I rarely have to ask more than a handful of questions in my interviews here: as soon as I mention “oil” and “Amazon” in the same sentence, people here can go on for hours. It’s better that way, of course, since it allows me to stick to a few Spanish paragraphs of explanation of my… Continue reading Location, Location, Location
If laws on the books were all that mattered, I’d put Ecuador way ahead of the U.S. The new constitution gives a formal right to existence and protection to “nature”, and, somewhat more practically, offers civil unions to gay couples. Ecuador has nearly open-borders and strict gun control; almost the inverse of the U.S., where… Continue reading La Revolución Ciudadana Está En Marcha
This weekend the train of bread crumbs that took me to Coca ran out, and I faced two days in the city with no one to interview and no meetings to attend. I wasted Saturday watching monkeys. On Sunday a friend who I made by phenomenally random chance at the Francisco de Orellana Anniversary-of-the-Merger-of-Two-Provicial-Directorates Fiesta… Continue reading Trust
Go West, young man, and grow up with the country. The passageway into the bus terminal is wide and angled slightly uphill, with a big sign reading “Oriente” hanging ominously at the end. It could serve well enough as the setting for one of those dramatic movies, in which a group of astronauts / soldiers… Continue reading Go East, Young Man
We are trained to look for problems. We go into the field armed with theory that tells us that development programs are inevitably ill-conceived and incompetently managed. We assume that governments and NGOs never learn the lessons of past failures and that they always ignore feedback from local communities. We know we will always have… Continue reading Anthropologist’s Worst Nightmare
It’s always exciting when something is published in the popular press on my research interests, and even better (academically, at least) when it is sufficiently off the mark to make me think that people really need to know about what I’m discovering. I’m fairly sure everyone in elementary school hears about how the rainforest is… Continue reading One step forward?
Yesterday I interviewed Pablo Fajardo, and – while I knew it before I went in – the guy is a genuine hero. It’s easy to find information online about Pablo—I recommend this Vanity Fair article (really) or the movie Crude—so I will keep this introduction brief. Fajardo is the son of poor campesinos, born the… Continue reading Inspiration in the most likely of places