Small Group Project 2022-23
During the last century, the indigenous South American lowlands (Amazonia, Chaco, Patagonia) have been colonized by steamboats, railways, trucks, and even chainsaws, fire-weapons and electric generators introduced by missionaries, extractive endeavors, armies, development projects, and NGOs. However, anthropological and historical studies have largely neglected this mechanic colonization of indigenous life by focusing on topics such as ideologies of personhood, kinship, cosmology, and culturally-inflected relations with animals, religious missions and non-human spirits. Aiming at understanding social change, some studies have indeed dealt with some of the new materialities that model everyday experience: t-shirts, outboard motors, solar panels, and cellphones. However, not even a single study has analyzed a conspicuous factor of indigenous reality: the current tide of motorcycles that during the last few decades altered dramatically the interethnic landscape. The aim of the project is therefore to process the outcomes of an ongoing multidisciplinary investigation on the social, economic and ethnic impact of the current dissemination of motorcycles among the Chacobo (Panoan) of Bolivian Amazonia, by means of a groundbreaking and interdisciplinary approach that involves ethnography, visual anthropology, gender studies, science and technology studies, and landscape and development geography.