Based on reflective practice over 15 years in Ecuador, the authors examine the perpetuation of knowingly harmful public policy in highly toxic pesticides. They study how actors cooperate, collude, and collide in advancing certain technological agenda, even when against public interests. Ultimately, entrenchment of perspective opened up space for arrival of new social actors and competing activity and transition. In light of struggles for sustainability, the authors find neglected policy opportunities in the heterogeneity of peoples' daily practices and countermovements, leading to a call for further attention to the inherently incoherent, complex, and irresolvable human face of sociotechnical change.
Stephen G. Sherwood and Myriam Paredes
The (Re)Configuration of a Transit Country
Soledad Álvarez Velasco
Ecuador has a complex history with respect to the movement of people across its borders. For at least the past five decades, irregularized Ecuadoreans have been emigrating abroad, mainly to the United States of America (henceforth US). 1 Likewise
On prison securitization and its zones of legal silence
When a state of emergency in Ecuador's prison system was declared in 2007, municipal leaders in Guayaquil built the country's first “supermax” prison, La Roca, for the administrative segregation of inmates considered a security threat. I suggest that administrative curtailment of access to these so-called “worst of the worst” prisoners merits legal comparisons with the juridical status of detainees in US “black site” facilities, the inter-American drug wars now paralleling the global war on terror insofar as prisoners' rights are concerned. Contrasting my brief visit to La Roca with political-economic and media analysis, my article draws two conclusions: (1) that limited physical access to prisoners, stimulated by administrative “zones of legal silence”, demands an ethnographic focus on daily conditions of prison life using inconsistencies in administrative rhetoric; and (2) that measures to securitize the prison system have augmented prison directors' powers to coerce inmates and to confound understandings of their living conditions.
Studying abroad can be a life-altering experience, but not necessarily. I credit the two study-abroad experiences I had as an undergraduate as setting my course as an anthropologist. At this stage in my career, having directed, taught and evaluated five study-abroad programmes in three different countries, I felt ready to create my own based on the pros and cons I had observed. In December 2013, I completed a pilot run of a binational learning community focused on food, culture and social justice in Ecuador and Oregon and would like to share the experience in order to encourage other higher education teachers to invent similar programmes. It is not an easy model to pull off, especially in a large state institution, but it achieved the kind of coherence that I have found lacking in other study-abroad programmes and was a very satisfying teaching/learning experience. I will outline some issues concerning study-abroad programmes and then describe
the programme I was involved in implementing in 2013.
The Ecuadorian indigenous movement emerged just as the binaries that once defined the Indian/white boundary became acknowledged internal polarities of indigenous society. In this article, I argue that these divergences energized indigenous communities, which built material infrastructure, social networks, and political capital across widening gaps in values and incomes. They managed this task through a kind of vernacular statecraft, making the most of list making, council formation, and boundary drawing. As the movement shifts into electoral politics, the same community politics that launched it now challenges the national organization. As they work to define a coherent national program, the principal organizations of the national movement must reproduce the local contacts and relations among communities that made Ecuador's indigenous pluriculturalism such a potent presence in the 1990s.
Tristan Platt and Andrés Guerrero
Interviewed and translated by Tristan Platt
TP: Andrés, you have recently published a book which has provoked considerable interest, and which presents the results of your reflections over several years on the history and anthropology of Ecuador. Let me start by asking you what led you to these two disciplines, and how you think the combination has led you to understand better an Andean and Latin-American society such as Ecuador?
João Biehl and Sebastián Ramírez Hernandez
In this theoretically ambitious article, Andrés Guerrero aims to rethink the North’s Master Narrative of liberal citizenship, comparing the administration of Indians in past Ecuador with the administration of illegal immigrants in Spain today “as a sort of distorted reflection.”
Weaponization of the RICO Act across jurisdictional borders
Lindsay Ofrias and Gordon Roecker
This article examines how the world’s arguably largest oil disaster, in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, has become a testing ground for new global forms of corporate power and the criminalization of dissent. Following the ongoing “trial of the century” between Chevron Corporation and plaintiffs representing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and indigenous people affected by the disaster, we look at how the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been applied against the affected people and their lawyers to sidestep the norm of international comity and alter the parameters for pursuing environmental justice. Specifically, we point to how the case—and a new crop of cases following suit—has threatened to criminalize the use of “lawfare” as a “weapon of the weak.”
Five or ten years from now, the performance of the allegedly leftist regimes in Latin America (particularly those of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia and, to varying degrees, those of Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil) will be assessed in terms of the extent to which they were able to bring about a reduction of poverty, sustained rates of growth, and a measure of democratization in their countries, including less inequality and more inclusive policies, particularly toward ethnic minorities.
African immigrants in twentieth-century Spain and Indians in nineteenth-century Ecuador
The article simultaneously explores three lines of reflection and analysis woven around the comparative reverberations (in space and time) between citizenship and the administration of populations (states of exception) in the Republic of Ecuador during the nineteenth century and the Kingdom of Spain in the twenty century. The first thread tries to answer the question whether it is possible for concepts generated in a country of the Global South to be used usefully in analyzing a different Northern reality, inverting the usual direction in the flows of transfer and importation of “theory.“ The second theme of comparative reverberation explores a network of concepts concerning the citizenship of common sense and the administration of populations, that is the “back-patio“ aspect of citizenship, particularly its historical formation in the domination of populations in the Republic of Ecuador during the nineteenth century. It is centered on the process of identification in the daily exchanges between interpares citizens and extrapares non-citizens. The last section involves testing concepts forged in the author's studies of Ecuadorian history for their utility in analyzing the current situation of modern sub-Saharan immigrants in Spain (using concrete examples), and their reclusion to the private sphere in spaces of exception and abandonment. Here, the article concentrates on the difference between the public administration of populations and the private administration of citizens. The article uses documentary material relating to nineteenth-century Ecuador and twentieth-century Spain and Senegal.