Graduate Research Karla Encalada: Indigenous Peoples and their Interactions with the Ecuadorian State

  • Martinez Novo, Maria del Carme (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


With the emergence of a post-­neoliberal regime in Ecuador, the Kichwa, an indigenous group who live in Playas del Cuyabeno, a community located in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, face a dilemma. The Ecuadorian state has attempted to redistribute the revenues of oil exploitation to the Kichwa via the implementation of basic services along with the construction of new houses, a modern school and a medical center. And yet this program, dubbed the "Millennium Communities Project" (MCP), has relocated the Kichwa far from their fincas (farms) and imposed new tariffs for their use of state services. The state has also expropriated the political center from the community and has introduced a variety of state institutions into the space which was once the communal political center. As the result of indigenous anti-­neoliberal struggles, Latin America has experienced the creation of new forms of governance (Fabricant and Gustafson 2011; Fernandes 2010; Goodale and Postero 2013). On the one hand, some Latin American states attempt to overcome the inequalities caused by neoliberalism and improve indigenous well-­being via the implementation of redistributive programs and the extension of indigenous rights. On the other hand they decrease the quality of life of these groups by reinforcing resource exploitation within their territories (Bebbington and Bebbington 2012, Davidov 2013) and decreasing their participation in the implementation of state projects (Martinez 2014). Scholars have studied these detrimental impacts of post-­neoliberal regimes, examining the competing state claims concerning the improvement of indigenous well-­being. However, less has been written about how the programs, which are created to diminish neoliberal inequality and improve the well-­being of indigenous communities impact their lives. The proposed research asks: how do indigenous groups and state officers conceptualize, navigate, and experience redistributive post-­neoliberal programs? This research will examine the ideas and practices of state officers and indigenous in relation to the MCP, the types of interactions they create, and the impacts of the project within indigenous political organizations. Interviews and participant-­observation will be conducted with the Kichwa beneficiaries of the MCP to investigate how they perceive and experience the program and what impact it has had on their lives. Interviews with members of the Kichwa communal organization of Playas del Cuyabeno as well as members of Kichwa and other indigenous communities will be conducted. This research will also examine how indigenous political leaders perceive the implementation of the MCP. It will also observe and interview state officers in charge of the MCP to understand how the program is implemented and which types of interactions it produces between state officers and indigenous.
Effective start/end date6/30/156/1/17


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