Cover have previously portrayed development in very linear, but

Cover Page for GEO3421 Term Paper Based on a
Geological Article

Author of the Article:
Thomas Perreault

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Publication Date: October
1, 2003

Title of the Article: `A
people with our own identity’: toward a cultural politics

of development in
Ecuadorian Amazonia

Publication Source:

           Journal: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

           Volume: 21

           Issue Number: 5

           Page Numbers: 583-606




My Name: Catherine Herring

Class: GEO3421

Semester: Fall 2017

Date Submitted: 12/18/2017



            In the article “`A people with our
own identity’: toward a cultural politics

of development in
Ecuadorian Amazonia” written by Thomas Perreault, Perreault introduces the article by summarizing the
overall intent behind this paper in the abstract of the paper. He also emphasizes
his views on development on a more marginalized level than the “usual” way
critiques view development on a national and international level. Perreault
states that the purpose of his article is to “examine the cultural politics of
international development among Ecuadorian indigenous federations.” Overall,
Perrault’s argument for “`A people with our own identity’: toward a cultural
politics of development in Ecuadorian Amazonia” is that development isn’t just
a unified, uniformed, non-politically influenced process, especially among
organizations and federations of rural people like the Ecuadorian Amazonia.

            In the introduction section of the
composition, Perreault goes into depth about the various ways “development” can
be defined and that ideas of “development” can often be contradictory due to
development’s vague nature (Perreault, p583). The introduction frames the
coming argument and discussion by giving examples of how others have previously
portrayed development in very linear, but problematic ways.

            Perreault mentioned how
antidevelopment writers, such as Escobar, Sachs, and Yapa, have provided strong
indictments of “development discourse and its effects in depoliticizing,
disempowering, and destroying Third World cultures since the early 1990s.” (Perreault,
p584) (Escobar, 1992; 1995; Sachs, 1992; Yapa, 1996a; 1996b) Perreault argues
that these indictments frame individual and smaller organizations and groups as
either “noble resisters” or “passive victims” in the transnational and national
development nature of society.

also cites James Ferguson’s 1990 analysis of regional development of Lesotho. (Ferguson,
1990, page 256). Perreault finds Ferguson’s analysis applicable in that it “provides
a powerful indictment of development planning and its capacity to transform
landscapes and discipline lives while simultaneously deflecting criticism or
politicized opposition.” Even though Perreault believes Ferguson’s perspective is
helpful in understanding development at the national and global levels, Perreault
views Ferguson’s arguments as having many issues. One issue being that
Perreault asserts that development serves to expand not only state power, but
also that non-state parties can have just as much, if not more, power in some
ways than state agencies to aid in development. Secondly, Perreault argues that
contrary to Ferguson’s view that development is depoliticized, development is
actually highly politicized.



            In this paper, Perreault makes the
arguments that development isn’t just a unified, uniformed, non-politically
influenced process, especially among organizations and federations of rural
people like the Ecuadorian Amazonia. Instead, Perreault argues that development
is often highly political, that non-state organizations, like the Ecuadorian
Amazonia, can have just as much influence on global and national levels of
development as state agencies, and that development at both the national and
global levels, as well as development on more local levels, have a huge effect
on the Ecuadorian indigenous people. Perreault also argues that “development
projects, coordinated through state agencies and frequently funded by international
donors, become sites of ideological struggle through which indigenous organizations
contest and negotiate official understandings of the state, the nation, and
citizenship.” (Perreault p587)


Structure of the Paper

            Perreault goes about making the
argument for the paper by first stating in his abstract the intent of his
article being to examine the Ecuadorian indigenous federations and their
cultural politics development on a global scale. Secondly, Perreault goes about
explain and defining development and his overall issues with how others have
critiqued development on a national and transnational scale as being “monolithic,
homogenizing, and depoliticized.” (Perrault, p583) After that, Perrault discusses
the role indigenous organizations play in the international development in
Ecuador. Perreault then examines the Ecuadorian Amazon’s history of indigenous
organizing and the national developmental ways that state programs have shaped these
organizations. Perreault continues the paper with his conclusions. Lastly,
Perreault lists his acknowledgements for the paper and his references for the

information Perreault presents is ordered in a compare-contrast pattern
followed by a chronological one. The overall focus of the paper was about
development and more specifically lead into the development of Ecuadorian
indigenous federations and how they impacted and were impacted on a local,
national, and international level over time. Throughout the article, Perreault
compared and contrasted other critiques of development’s understanding with his
own views of development and his understanding of how those views impacted
Ecuador and Ecuadorian Amazonia. The overall format of the document is laid out
with subtitles and in some sections, subdivision titles within the subtitled
sections that allow for a more in-depth explanation of each section.

“`A people with our own identity’: toward a cultural politics of development in
Ecuadorian Amazonia” is separated into 9 overall sections. The sections
Perreault divides this article into are: 1) the abstract of the article, 2) the
introduction of the article focused on development, identity, and indigenous
organizations, 3) the Ecuadorian Amazon’s indigenous organizations and the
development, 4) ethnic organizing and the Ecuadorian state, 5) an institutional
ethnography of FOIN, 6) his views on contesting the nation in terms of
Ecuadorian citizenship, territory, and identity, 7) the conclusions of the
paper, 8) the acknowledgements for the paper, and 9) the references for the

the abstract section of the article, Perreault makes the point that development
isn’t just monolithic, homogenizing, and depoliticized and states that
development is very diverse, using the Ecuadorian indigenous organizations as
examples of how local organizations impact nations on a national and
international scale. In the introduction section, Perreault makes the points
that development is a diverse, and often contradictory process and that
development isn’t limited to being uniformed, unified, and not political. He
points out that development occurs on multiple levels with the two main ones he
defines as being “development writ large” (state agencies and similar
impersonal transnational institutions) and “development projects” (more
individualized and smaller organizations on a local level). He also makes the
point that development is cultural. Perreault deduces that the identities of
the individual are shaped heavily by their culture and the development of and
within that culture. This prompts his overall goal of the paper, which is to
deep dive into the cultural politics of development’s cultural politics.
Perreault defines these politics as “the manner in which the practices,
discourses, and social relations of rural development become sites of
contestation in which indigenous peoples’ organizations challenge official
understandings of citizenship, ethnic identity, and national belonging… (and) that
indigenous identities, and the meanings with which they are imbued, `are
constitutive of processes that … seek to redefine social power”’ (Perreault,
p586; Alvarez et al, 1998, page 7)

next section Indigenous organizations and
development in the Ecuadorian Amazon makes the point that from the start
indigenous organizations in Ecuador, such as FOIN, have been involved on
individual, local, national and international levels in the development and
implement of development projects. This projects aimed to improve the living
circumstances and conditions of the indigenous organizations’ constituent
members including defending their rights to citizenship, resources, and
territory, and negotiate complex institutional relationships with different
agencies on different institutional levels, such as state agencies, multilateral
funding institutions, national and international NGOs, and each other.
Perreault also makes the point that indigenous federations are “institutional
intersections, where complex, overlapping, and at times contradictory social,
cultural, and political processes conjoin”. “Examination of Ecuadorian
indigenous organizations is thus compelling not only because of their potential
for resistance and progressive action, but also, and of particular importance
to this study, because they present an opportunity to interrogate ways in which
divergent identities, discourses, and politics articulate and are negotiated.”
(Perreault, p587)

the section Ethnic organizing and the
Ecuadorian state, Perreault describes the current history of most
indigenous organizations in Ecuador of the last 60 years and how they dealt
with “the homogenous mestizo nation” (where the indigenous people were expected
to become Europeanized and accept the European culture as their own) and
economic issues that were national, as well as global. The main point of this
section is to show how state, national and transnational agencies have shaped
the forms that indigenous organizing could take while also recognizing that
indigenous federations (like those in Ecuador) are shaped but do not rely or
only react solely on international advocacy groups or state policies.

next section An institutional ethnography
of FOIN is divided into subdivisions: 1) Autoethnography and ethnic praxis and 2) Organizational
history and discourse. The entire
section focuses on the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Napo (FOIN).
Perreault uses this section to give a thorough analysis of one indigenous organization
in the Ecuadorian Amazon. He does this to convey the methods in which this
particular (and many other indigenous federations like it) works out “processes
of development and modernization for its members, and how, through this process
of mediation, it contests official understandings of citizenship and the
nation.” (Perreault, p589) This section outlines the history of FOIN.

in the section Contesting the nation:
citizenship, territory, and identity, Perreault makes the point that the
meaning of what is consider “citizenship” within a nation is always open for negotiation
and isn’t confined to a specific set of state-imposed laws.

the conclusion section of Perreault’s paper, Perreault reiterates the above
goals he wanted to achieve in his work. He reemphasized that development is a
diverse and political process that is impacted by indigenous organizations on
the local, as well as national and global level. In the acknowledgement section,
Perreault thanks those who funded his research, FOIN, those who hosted and
aided him in his research and those who anonymously peer reviewed this paper. In
the reference section he listed all the references he used in his research.

sections build up to Perreault’s overall arguments by explaining what
“development” is within the context of Perreault’s arguments, providing
background on Ecuador’s local, national, and global developmental levels over
time so that Perreault can build the framework of his arguments and, providing
examples, such as FOIN, of Ecuadorian Amazonian indigenous organizations to
show previous and current real world applications of Perreault’s arguments.