Gabriel Torrealba

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Southern Illinois U., Carbondale

Grant number

Gr. 9931

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Torrealba, Gabriel (Southern Illinois U., Carbondale) "Images of Debt: Kukama Perceptions and Experiences of Indebtedness in Nauta, Peruvian Amazonia"

This project seeks to conduct and anthropological study of debt in the Peruvian Amazonia. It is driven by the question of how and why Kukama people of Nauta understand their own past and present indebtedness in ambivalent terms. In order to answer this question, I will explore how Kukama people have experienced and interpreted debt from the mid-20th century until current neoliberal times. The project concentrates on the ethnographic analysis of contemporary forms of debt, as well as the modes of historicity whereby past indebtedness is remembered. I hypothesize that local forms of historical consciousness (e.g. mytho-historical narratives, oral histories, cosmologies) play an interpretive and practical role in the current experiences of indebtedness in Nauta. Empirical evidence will come from a long-term ethnographic fieldwork among the Kukama from Nauta, Peru, and archival research on the last decades of the rubber era (1940s-1960s). The research is focused on an examination of 1) local perceptions of indebtedness, 2) the social dynamics of debt in creating solidarity or conflict, and 3) the mytho-historical narratives and cosmological images associated to debt-peonage violence. Theoretically, the project draws on the anthropological debt theory, the literature on Amazonian sociality, and the studies of Amazonian historicity.