Accepted Paper:

A view from the ground: Amerindian children as agents of change  


Camilla Morelli (University of Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

This talk focuses on Matses children of Peruvian Amazonia and investigates their role in social change. I use children’s drawings and photographs to explore imaginative and non-verbal realms of knowledge, and to argue that children actively effect change and shape the future of their society.

Paper long abstract:

This talk focuses on indigenous Matses children of Peruvian Amazonia and investigates their role in processes of social change. It therefore addresses a lacuna in the regional literature, which largely overlooks children's lives and perspectives despite children and youth constituting the highest demographic in Amerindian populations. I argue that children effect social transformations in silent ways, i.e. by developing new ways of knowing and relating to the world distinct from older generations, but which are often unspoken and not put into words. By showing a mixture of drawings and photographs taken by children in the field, I explore their implicit ways of engaging with the world through action, movement and the imagination. The slides will focus on two main points, discussing how young Matses contribute to: (i) the progressive passage from a forest-based lifestyle to a riverine one; and (ii) the growing importance of nonindigenous practices, places and materials in Matses society. While elderly Matses still rely on the forest for survival, children are distancing themselves from the forest and prefer engaging with the river and urban environments (even if at a distance, through the imagination). In doing so, children are actively shaping the future of Matses society. The slides will set up this argument by showing children's visual forms of expression, namely photographs and drawings, which reveal unspoken feelings and attitudes towards the world (for instance children's passion for the river and their distance from the forest) that are key to understanding their agency in social change.

Panel Plenary C
Young scholars forum