A Future for Amazonia: Randy Borman and Cofan Environmental Politics (Paperback)Michael Cepek (author)
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Blending ethnography with a fascinating personal story, A Future for Amazonia is an account of a political movement that arose in the early 1990s in response to decades of attacks on the lands and peoples of eastern Ecuador, one of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse places. After generations of ruin at the hands of colonizing farmers, transnational oil companies, and Colombian armed factions, the indigenous Cofan people and their rain forest territory faced imminent jeopardy. In a surprising turn of events, the Cofan chose Randy Borman, a man of Euro-American descent, to lead their efforts to overcome the crisis that confronted them.
Drawing on three years of ethnographic research, A Future for Amazonia begins by tracing the contours of Cofan society and Borman's place within it. Borman, a blue-eyed, white-skinned child of North American missionary-linguists, was raised in a Cofan community and gradually came to share the identity of his adoptive nation. He became a global media phenomenon and forged creative partnerships between Cofan communities, conservationist organizations, Western scientists, and the Ecuadorian state. The result was a collective mobilization that transformed the Cofan nation in unprecedented ways, providing them with political power, scientific expertise, and a new role as ambitious caretakers of more than one million acres of forest. Challenging simplistic notions of identity, indigeneity, and inevitable ecological destruction, A Future for Amazonia charts an inspiring course for environmental politics in the twenty-first century.
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 538 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
"We must thank Michael Cepek for an ethnography that not only sheds light on indigenous cultural resistance, but also allows us to imagine such questions." * Journal of Latin American Studies *
"What's the fate of the Amazon's ecology and indigenous people? Is cultural and biological destruction inevitable? This may be the predominant message we hear emanating from the global discourse, but, as we read in Michael Cepek's lively and richly textured account of the Cofan people of eastern Ecuador, we may have reason to be more optimistic." * American Ethnologist *
"It is exciting and always refreshing to read an ethnography that, as Cepek puts it, uses empirical investigation of an existing liberatory project to help us conceptualize alternative futures of hope and possibility." * American Anthropologist *
"A Future for Amazonia is ideal for those in search of a rich, readable, ethnography that provides a remarkably rich account of an Amazonian indigenous people and how they have developed the political capacity to take on multinational oil, negotiate the Ecuadorian state, and secure a future that is at least partially hopeful. In short, this book makes an argument for why ethnography remains important for understanding much of what defines Latin America, from natural resource extraction and imperialism to indigenous movements, the `NGOization' of political life, and the broader struggle for cultural and economic survival." * Anthropology and Humanism *
"This book will be of interest to environmental anthropologists for its depiction of divergent cultural models of environmental conservation and ecological cosmovisions, and to scholars in Latin American studies for its analysis of indigenous social movements and their complex relationships with states and transnational NGO networks. It also makes important contributions to the emerging field of NGO studies by examining how the adoption of the NGO form entails the transformation of community identities and practices. Nonetheless, its greatest value lies in the way it challenges anthropologists to examine the cultural tools used by people to refashion their ways of living in order to secure some measure of control over their future in a complex and often unpredictable global context." * Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute *
"Cepek has done a marvelous job in documenting and explaining the nuances and narratives of the Cofan story. . . . The book, which is easy to read and very well written, is highly recommended, especially for anyone working in International Development, Development Education, Government, Conservation, or Anthropology. The larger value here is that Cepek provides a pragmatic vision, gained through his sustained relationship with Borman and the Cofan,which might help the world with its problem of maintaining biodiversity. It is a real life story, implemented and worked on by real people, not just a utopian vision. The accomplishments of the 'Cofan experiment' deserve to be carefully studied and debated" * Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology *
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