In this article, I argue for a broadening of the conceptualisation of wellbeing in the scholarly and policy literature on the topic. I do so as, despite the calls for the inclusion of place in analyses of wellbeing, the literature on the topic still carries a dominant conception of wellbeing as a measurable index based on Euro-American practices and discourses, with their associated views of humanity and nature. I will advance the discussion on wellbeing’s intimate connection to place and place-based consciousness through an ethnographic engagement with kametsa asaiki (‘living well together’), an ethos of wellbeing pursued by indigenous Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon. This is a revealing context as Peru exemplifies how extractive development initiatives tend to misrecognise or underestimate their socio-natural consequences on local pursuits of wellbeing. I argue that an understanding of the role of place and place-based consciousness in wellbeing is key to enhancing the concept’s utility in policy and practice, especially due to its centrality in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, I call for further ethnographic explorations of the link between wellbeing models and understandings of humanity and nature.
Wellbeing, Place and Extractivism in the Amazon
Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti
Anthropological Perspectives on Wellbeing and Place
Emilia Ferraro and Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti
In this thematic issue we offer anthropologically-informed snapshots of the different forms that wellbeing takes when approached from place-based perspectives. We are interested in highlighting and engaging with the undermining of place in the literature on wellbeing, which has produced a lack of appreciation for the role that culture plays in forming and informing different discourses, understandings and practices of wellbeing, as well as wellbeing scholarship itself. Our articles examine place as part of a project that aims at generating new contexts from which to ‘think otherwise’ about social policy, politics, the creation of knowledge, and, ultimately, existence.