Community Capacity Building

Transforming Amerindian Sociality in Peruvian Amazonia

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Restricted access

Abstract

This article examines the legacies of a missionary organization’s project to assist the transition of the Amahuaca and others in Peruvian Amazonia into permanent communities. The central aim of this state-sponsored project was to bring Amahuaca people into the ‘modern world’ and allow them to participate as productive members of Peruvian society. I take their approach of ‘intercultural community work’ as an early manifestation of ‘capacity building’ projects in the region. By examining the contrasting ways such transition projects have been framed by the organizers and participants over time, points of comparison can be identified between an Amerindian conceptualization of ‘transformation’ and the way ‘transformation’ is understood to be central to ‘capacity building’ projects within a contemporary United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] framework. I argue that it is critical to examine the transformative impulses of capacity building projects in relation to how change is conceptualized by those involved.

Contributor Notes

Christopher Hewlett received his Ph.D. from the University of St Andrews in 2014, and is currently affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. His research in the Peruvian Amazon focuses on history, kinship and political organization among Amahuaca people over the past seventy years.

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