Juliet Serenyi Erazo

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Florida International U.

Grant number

Gr. 10072

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Erazo, Juliet (Florida International U.) "Becoming Politicians: Shifting Understandings of Leadership Potential and Indigenous Women's Experiences with Running for Office"

JULIET ERAZO, Florida International University, University Park, Florida, was awarded funding in April 2021 to aid research on “Becoming Politicians: Shifting Understandings of Leadership Potential and Indigenous Women’s Experiences with Running for Office.” Over the past three decades, most South American countries have implemented gender quotas to increase women’s representation in politics and decision-making bodies. In majority-Indigenous areas, many political candidates are now Indigenous women, a surprising trend given that they have historically faced enormous challenges in being seen as capable leaders, not only by whites/mestizos, but also by Indigenous men. This study analyzed the processes through which Indigenous Kichwa women from the Ecuadorian Amazon began to imagine themselves as having leadership potential, the training and leadership roles they pursued before running, and the experiences they had running for and holding office. They also examined the role of shamanism in electoral politics, and whether fears of shamanic attacks made Kichwa women reticent to run. While most approaches to politicians examine elections quantitatively or primarily through surveys, this research took a uniquely anthropological approach, situating Kichwa politicians’ lives, values, and personhood within Amazonian ethnology. It also examined the role that international development organizations’ efforts to empower women has played in shifting perceptions of women’s abilities to lead. The researchers conducted four periods of fieldwork over two years to trace changing perceptions through the election cycle.