Professor Kim Jones and senior Chris Jarrett present papers at Latin American Studies, Southern Anthropological Society conferences

Assistant professor of anthropology Kim Jones and senior Chris Jarrett, an international studies and Spanish double major, presented papers on their work in South America at the Mid-Atlantic Council Latin American Studies conference March 18-19 at the University of Pittsburgh. Jones and Jarrett also presented papers on additional research in Brazil and Ecuador at the Southern Anthropological Society's conference in Richmond, Va., held March 23-25.


“Hacia el Buen Convivir: Experiments in ‘Development with Identity’ in the Ecuadorian Amazon”

Christopher Carleton Jarrett

Since the rise of Ecuador’s national indigenous movement in the 1980s, indigenous communities across the country have intensified efforts to design alternative development strategies that more appropriately accommodate their cultural identities. This paper is based on participant observation and interviews in the community of Rukullakta in Ecuador’s Amazonian province of Napo.

It describes three innovative development initiatives that indigenous Kichwa communities have been involved in- intercultural bilingual education, fair trade, and community tourism. I will use these examples to highlight the ways in which Kichwa communities have conceptualized and applied novel approaches to natural resource management and cultural revitalization. While emphasizing local perceptions of development policies, I will describe how globalization has provided opportunities to form transnational alliances that support sustainable land use management and re-valuing of Kichwa cultural identity.

My presentation will address these three examples within the context of the overarching ideology of “development with identity.” I use the term development with identity to refer to efforts to reconcile a desire to preserve cultural heritage with an interest in participating in a global economy.

“No Longer an ‘Indigente’! Democracy, Identity, and Access to Public Health Services in Brazil”

Kimberly Marie Jones

Prior to the implementation of Brazil’s Universal Health Program (SUS) in 1990, Brazilian citizens who did not have insurance or the money to pay for their healthcare were labeled “indigent” and were reliant on charity or patronage to access biomedical services. With Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985 and subsequent development of the New Constitution of 1988, health was declared a right of every Brazilian citizen and the responsibility of the state to provide.

This rearranged the patron relationship in Brazil and put into place social democracy as a form of government that would replace the dependent social relations between the middle to upper and lower socio-economic classes in Brazil. Through the analysis and interpretation of oral histories with dozens of health professionals and workers in the public health system in Montes Claros, Brazil, the change in identity from an indigent dependent on patronage to a citizen with the right to make demands is discussed in light of the development of SUS, Sistema Única de Saúde.

This case study demonstrates that social development through empowering citizens to improve their own well-being can not only preserve but promote the dignity of formally oppressed and underserved members of society.

“Turtle Shells, Tourists, and Transnational Oil: An Examination of the Waira Churis Community Tourism Group in the Ecuadorian Amazon”

Christopher Carleton Jarrett

In recent decades, community tourism has been cited as one of the most promising new development strategies for indigenous peoples in the Amazon. By providing community members the opportunity to preserve their local culture and environment while gaining a sustainable income, community tourism allows indigenous groups to pursue socioeconomic development on their own terms.

Based on months of participant observation in the community of Rukullakta in the Ecuadorian Amazon, this paper tells the story of the Waira Churis, a traditional Kichwa music and dance group and, more recently, community tourist destination. I argue that the Waira Churis use cultural performance as both a means of pursuing socioeconomic development and a symbolic strategy of resistance against multinational corporations that seek to extract non-renewable resources such as petroleum from their territories.

I will discuss how the Waira Churis’ commodification of Kichwa aesthetic, linguistic, and musical traditions has allowed them to gain an independent source of income for the community while preserving their cultural identity. I will also discuss how their increased popularity and visibility has amplified their voices of opposition to oil drilling in their community. In this way, I hope to contribute to discussions of indigenous expressive culture by showing how indigenous peoples use art to both preserve and assert their identities in a globalized world.

“Feminist Praxis, Collaborative Projects, and the Art of Anthropology”

Kimberly Marie Jones

As a post-modern, feminist anthropologist I have wrestled with ethical imperatives to deeply consider the politics of representation in developing my networks and standards of practice in my primary foreign field site, Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, Brazil. One of my primary concerns has been to work in collaboration with local academics and health researchers to develop bi-national teams of students and faculty to assure that my projects are informed by local scholars and contribute to the continued development of local educators.

I argue that part of the art of anthropology is the art of building relationships of respect and collegiality in interdisciplinary teams of colleagues of different levels of professional and personal experience that honor the unique contributions and limitations of each member. To provide some examples of such collaborations I will discuss a team oral history project conducted in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, Brazil on the origins and development of Brazil’s universal health care system.

Specifically, I will discuss the arts of finding and selecting team members, of encouraging all members of the team to be forthright about their short and long term goals related to the project, and of continuing to connect and engage with the team after returning from the field.