Traditional Knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon

“Antes los gringos decían que somos estúpidos,
ahora quieren llevarse nuestro conocimiento…”
(Kichwa grandmother)

[“The gringos used to say we are stupid,
now they want to take our knowledge away…”]

Joining the gathering you will be entering into a foreign culture and even if you have been in the Amazon before, even if you have been here many times, you might not have spent much time finding out about the history, political economy and the ways in which Amazonian science, logic and medicine differs conceptually from its counterparts in Euro-American philosophical systems of understanding and making sense of the world.

Want to say a few things in Kichwa? Download Gayle and Elias’s wonderful little phrasebook.

Paradigmatically different things have to be understood, if you want to grasp them properly, in their own terms, not merely translated into your own language and system of thought – or, as it were, cosmovision. While we can never truly see the world through the eyes of someone else, we can try to listen carefully and slowly generate in our own minds a picture of another reality. This thesis is about that sort of thing: The Protection of Traditional Knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon: A Critical Ethnography of Capital Expansion. Chapter 3, Living in Napo: a brief political economy of extraction and colonisation in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is probably a good place to start.

For an easy, but very informative and exciting reading check out On the Origins of Ayahuasca, by Steve Beyer.

Very much worth a read is The Life and Times of Grandfather Alonso: Culture and History in the Upper Amazon, by Blanca Muratorio, which is briefly reviewed here and introduced here: Continue reading