Changing Places: Transnational Networks, Ethnic Politics and Community Development in the Ecuadorian Amazon
|Publication:||Political Geography, 22(1), pp. 61-88|
This paper examines political organizing among indigenous groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with a focus on the multi-scale networks of development, environmental, and cultural rights organizations with which many Amazonian indigenous communities are involved. In recent years, Latin American indigenous peoples’ political and cultural organizations have played a central role in mediating processes of resource access, rural development, and political participation. Diverse, transnational networks link community-based indigenous organizations to regional- and national-level ethnic rights organizations, state agencies, national and international NGOs, and multi-lateral development agencies. The formation and functioning of these networks have been central to contemporary forms of indigenous political mobilization in Latin America, and have had a profound influence on local places, regional identities, and national politics. This paper examines these processes in the context of the state transition from corporatist to neoliberal regime over the past 30 years. Through an institutional ethnography of an indigenous community association, I illustrate the ways that transnational networks have allowed indigenous groups to ‘scale up’ their political voice, while simultaneously consolidating the local communities that serve as spatial and institutional bases of both political power and cultural reproduction. This paper highlights the ways that transnational advocacy networks link scales of organization and political action, with implications for the strengthening of Ecuadorian democracy and civil society.