Accepted paper:

Ideas and initiatives in the name of progress in Peruvian Amazonia: the case of the Camisea gas extraction project and the Machiguenga indigenous population


Cynthia del Castillo Tafur (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

Paper short abstract:

To what extent Machiguenga ideas of progress- influenced by the Camisea Gas Project- are translated into “improvements in the life quality of the colectivity (...) and converge with the notion of “Buen Vivir” relied on solidarity and reciprocity bonds (Acosta 2009:180).

Paper long abstract:

More than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by hydrocarbon plots for exploration and exploitation, overlapping indigenous communities, protected natural areas, and territories reserved for isolated indigenous populations. The Camisea Gas Project (CGP), which is one of the largest gas extraction projects in Latin America, has been operating since 2000 in the southeast Amazon of Cusco in Peru, in territory historically occupied by Machiguenga indigenous populations. My research looks at the processes of social transformation Machiguenga society undergo due to gas extraction projects in the area. The Machiguenga Native Community of Cashiriari, where my fieldwork is based, undergoes very aggressive social change, among other reasons, due to the money received as compensation from the Camisea Consortium for the environmental impacts in their territory, and to the indigenous labour policy, which involves hiring Machiguenga men to work as wage-labourers at the Camisea gas fields. The traditional Machiguenga subsistence economy has become insufficient, and making money has become a mandate to progress; the traditional division of labour has shifted because of women and men's wage labour; diversification of livelihood activities has become a feature of Machiguenga households, in particular among women. Given this scenery, I explore to what extent Machiguenga ideas and initiatives of progress- expressed in the diversification of their livelihoods- are translated into "improvements in the life quality of the colectivity and not only into individual improvements" and converge (or not) with the notion of "Buen Vivir" relied on solidarity and reciprocity bonds (Acosta 2009: 180).

panel P19
Thinking otherwise at the extractive frontier: conflict, negotiation, translation, and a more equitable conversation