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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indigenous federations in the Peruvian Amazon : perspectives from the Ashéninka and Yine-Yami peoples Vasquez Fernandez, Andrea Milagros


The emergence of a globalized model of development in Peru, based on extraction of natural resources, has led to the rise of indigenous movements. One of the strategies to address the negative impacts of public policies created to support this model is through the creation of indigenous federations. Indigenous federations have emerged as a strategy of indigenous peoples to make their voices heard and determine their own future. Scholars, federation representatives, and community members themselves have identified the strengthened relationships between representatives and community members as a major challenge for indigenous movements. The question that frames this study is: how could representation by indigenous federations be improved, from the points of view of indigenous peoples’ epistemologies, ontologies, axiologies, and methodologies? In alliance with six Ashéninka and Yine-Yami indigenous communities and their local federations, we investigate their federational system of self-government. Through innovative and culturally sensitive methods of co-creating knowledge using emancipatory theories, this study addresses two objectives: (1) to identify factors that contribute indigenous federations’ representatives to effectively achieve communities’ objectives; and (2) to articulate recommendations to improve indigenous federations. These two objectives were attained with input from community members and federation representatives. Results show that the principal factors that explain representatives’ sources of capacity to address member communities’ objectives are primarily to establish close interpersonal relationships and to cultivate spiritual, ethical, and moral behaviours between representatives and community members. Five recommendations are identified by Ashéninka and Yine-Yami peoples to enhance their institutions: (1) to define the jurisdiction of the federations; (2) to formalize the federations; (3) to improve the processes of interaction; (4) to strengthen their self-determined indigenous economies; and (5) to increase political participation. The results inform current indigenous politics that aim to have a larger influence on the regional and even national formulation of public policies that impact the Peruvian Amazon. The recognition and practice of a pluri-national state and the need to establish more meaningful indicators of ethno-development are important in the formulation of the factors influencing a positive change and a way to address current and future conflicts around use of natural resources.

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