Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Discourse Exhibitions and Ethnolinguistic Change in Amazonian Ecuador


Anthropology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


In December 2008, indigenous educators in Napo, Ecuador launched the "First Contest of Kichwa Legends, Songs, and Shamanism." On a concrete ball court in the provincial capital of Tena, students recited Kichwa mythic narratives, chanted to sounds of traditional instruments, and acted out shamanic rituals before a panel of judges and a multiethnic, multilingual audience. The contest joined a panoply of folkloric exhibitions in Tena, where Kichwa revitalization has transformed cultural reproduction into an international spectacle. Here, indigenous intellectuals blend rich Napo Kichwa discourse traditions with technologies of global media- and ideoscapes to present "alternative modernities" (Whitten and Whitten 2011) to Ecuador and the world. This objectification of culture is part of activists controversial project of national Kichwa unification, which combines literacy education and mass-mediatization. The result, I argue, has been a profound epistemological shift toward metalinguistic awareness and new forms language objectification in everyday discourse.

Conference Name

Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America Sesquiannual Conference IX

Conference Location

University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

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