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Sumak Kawsay: Listening to the voices of the Living Forest: Resilience and Identity for Indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Indigenous peoples around the world are expected to deal with exogenous socio-political models, which pursuit their development and the establishment of alliances for conserving their ecosystems. In many cases, these models threaten their existence, in mind and soul, as peoples bonded with nature through identity. In order to safeguard their well-being and most significantly, their identities, building resilience becomes vital. The present thesis explores this resilience-identity relationship through a case of Indigenous social-ecological systems in the South-Central Ecuadorian Amazon: the Amazonian descendants’ Living Forest. In 2008, Ecuador conceptualized Sumak Kawsay, harmony with nature, as a new notion of welfare informed by indigenous wisdom. By relying on this, the study listened to the voices of the Living Forest through qualitative interviewing. An in-depth comparative analysis of three native villages was also carried out and complemented with key stakeholders’ narratives to illustrate how the state-wide conservation and poverty alleviation initiative Socio Bosque, interacts with the Amazonian descendants’ identity. Findings show that Amazonian descendants want to “remain” as peoples of the Living Forest. “Remaining” is rooted in a cultural-ecological identity whose intrinsic characteristic is resilience. Such identity is pivotal for achieving Sumak Kawsay. However, the cases also demonstrate that the presence of Socio Bosque undermines the Amazonian descendants’ self-determination of “remaining”. It, therefore, suggests that the Sumak Kawsay that is being mobilized in Ecuador constrains Indigenous peoples’ resiliencies. Consequently, the research recalls for a transformation, in the academic and socio-political realms, for dignifying Indigenous peoples’ identities and resiliencies if respectful collaborations are intended. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Resilience, identity, Ecuadorian Amazon, Sumak Kawsay, Indigenous peoples, social-ecological systems
National Category
Ecology Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-125919OAI: diva2:895995
2015-12-16, 10:30 (English)
Available from: 2016-02-16 Created: 2016-01-20 Last updated: 2016-02-16Bibliographically approved

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