Accepted Paper:

The Taste of Plastic: The decline of Ceramic Vessels in Shuar and Wampis communities in the Upper Amazon (Ecuador and Peru)  

Author:

Akimi Ota (The University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation, I will provide my reflections on the social implications around the decline of ceramic vessels in Amazonia. My aim is to outline the particular context which favour this process and its implication to people's material relationship with the land in contemporary Amazonia.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation, I will provide my reflections on the social implications around the decline of ceramic vessels in Shuar and Wampis communities in North-West Amazonia, stretching from Ecuador to Peru. Inhabiting in the rainforest, Shuar and Wampis people have maintained their own techniques of producing ceramic vessels since the Pre-Columbian era. Attributed exclusively to the female labour, this practice has been playing an important role in creating indigenous sociability by providing necessary utensils for cooking and the following consumption of food and drink. Especially, a particular type of vessel, pinin, which is used for drinking manioc beer has a special value due to the degree to which this beverage is consumed and its essential role in assembling the villagers in many occasions such as communal work. During my fieldwork, however, I noticed that ceramic vessels have become almost completely absent in today's village life, and the knowledge is disappearing at the extreme pace. Instead, people now use manufactured vessels made from plastic or aluminium. "Manioc beer tastes like plastic with this bowl, it's not good", my interlocutor says. What makes them disappear, while people still prefer ceramic vessels? My aim is to outline the conditions and the particular context which favour this process which are inseparably social, political, economical and cultural at the same time, as well as discussing its implication to people's transforming material relationship with the land in contemporary Amazonia.

Panel P028
Mutable Materialities of Indigenous Ways of Life