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The Spirits of Extractivism: Non-Human Meddling, Shamanic Diplomacy, and Cosmo-Political Strategy Among the Urarina (Peruvian Amazon)

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Abstract

The case of the Urarina of Chambira basin (Peruvian Amazon) represents a paradigmatic example of how the shamanic discourse interprets and manages the changes that involve community life, especially when it is significantly modified by the intensification of resources exploitation, such as wood and oil. The chapter will analyze how the level of conflict between the Urarina and non-indigenous societies characterizes the relations with specific categories of non-human people—associated with contagious diseases, evil spirits, metamorphic beings and predators—the diffusion of which is due to the neocolonial politics or to the greater circulation of money and industrial goods, and which are often seen as allies of “whites,” the State, or representatives of extractive enterprises.

Keywords

  • Urarina
  • Peruvian Amazonia
  • Resources exploitation
  • Neocolonialism
  • Evil spirits

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Fig. 3.1

(Source Photo by Emanuele Fabiano)

Fig. 3.2

(Source Map elaborated by Miguel Angel Uquichi Campos, 2019)

Fig. 3.3

(Source Urarina community of Nueva Unión, Chambira river, 2019. Photo by Emanuele Fabiano)

Fig. 3.4

(Source Urarina community of Nuevo Perú, Chambira river, 2016. Photo by Emanuele Fabiano)

Fig. 3.5

(Source Urarina community of Nueva Unión, Chambira river, 2019. Photo by Emanuele Fabiano)

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Acknowledgements

This text is the result of the study “Sustainable development, traditional ecological knowledge and social inequality in the region of the Chambira river in Loreto,” carried out between June and November of 2018, financed by a post-doctoral grant of trAndeS (for its initials in Spanish)—Graduate Program in Sustainable Development and Inequalities. The author thanks Oscar A. Espinosa and Nurit Matuk for their valuable help in the revision, correction, and translation phases of this text.

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Fabiano, E. (2021). The Spirits of Extractivism: Non-Human Meddling, Shamanic Diplomacy, and Cosmo-Political Strategy Among the Urarina (Peruvian Amazon). In: Riboli, D., Stewart, P.J., Strathern, A.J., Torri, D. (eds) Dealing with Disasters. Palgrave Studies in Disaster Anthropology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56104-8_3

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