Editing Eden: A Reconsideration of Identity, Politics, and Place in Amazonia

Synopsis

Recent scholarship on the Amazon has challenged depictions of the region that emphasize its natural exuberance or represent its residents as historically isolated peoples stoically resisting challenges from powerful global forces. The contributors to this volume follow this lead by situating the discussion of the Amazon and its inhabitants at the intersections of identity politics, debates about socioeconomic sovereignty, and processes of place making. Editing Eden focuses on case studies from Amazonian Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador regarding the themes of indigeneity, community making, development politics, and the transcendence of indigenous/nonindigenous divides. Portraits of the Amazon emerge through an analysis of indigenous identity as a product of multiple sources, including state policies toward Amazonian populations, the views of foreign ecotourists, the agendas of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and accounts of journalists. At the same time, indigenous and nonindigenous Amazonians challenge the representations constructed for and about them by integrating anthropologists and other nonlocals into their reciprocal systems of gift giving, or by utilizing NGO or ecotourist dollars to support their own cultural agendas. Editing Eden offers insights from leading anthropologists of the region, providing perspectives on the Amazon beyond the counterfeit paradise but short of El Dorado.

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