Depletion and abandonment of the shuar heritage induced by powerful and invasive external presences

Maurizio Gnerre has been working in Ecuador, in the Amazon region of Morona-Santiago, with indigenous Shuar communities, where he has been carrying out research for over fifty years. On the basis of his deep knowledge of the context and of the indigenous Shuar language, his research will be aimed at documenting on the level of linguistic practices the expropriation of the cognitive relationship with the environment that the Shuar communities are dramatically experiencing. This is a tragic consequence of a continuous push to abandon and eradicate, induced by a daily micro-history of invasions of land by settlers, of legalized occupations of huge plots of forest by Chinese mining companies, of a hidden and pervasive use of violence, of small and large pollution that erodes day after day the conditions of livability of their environment and confidence in it. In recent decades, the Shuar communities have seen the progressive cancellation of the territorial and linguistic-educational rights that were painstakingly acquired during the 20th century, dismantled in the name of extractivist economic strategies that sabotage what was once a real osmosis with the environment and empty the contents of the celebrations of multiculturalism, central to the national imagination of Ecuador. For the new generations of Shuar, disaffection with the living environment passes through an increasingly massive alienation from the language and knowledge of previous generations, which made familiar the complex interweaving of the life forms of the forest in which they hunted for a living. In this way, a dramatic loss of existential coordinates and a ‘social destiny’ of marginality in the nearest urban centres (Macas, Cuenca, Puyo, etc.) is produced every day more and more. The research aims to document this dramatic dynamic of impoverishment and eco-linguistic abandonment, promoting on the other hand the awareness of its consequences in close collaboration with social actors, native and not, engaged in actions of environmental and political claim.

2019-10-13T17:03:01+00:00