Research focuses on the place of indigenous epistemologies in intercultural and highly politicized interactions that revolve around the interface of development in Amazonia: on the one hand, the external planning and implementation of development projects in indigenous territories; on the other, indigenous people’s own critical responses to such projects. Although we have informative studies of development as a process linked to Western modernity and historicity, we have little sense of how development plays out in the emergence of interethnic identity politics, or what cultural meanings are harnessed in political processes, in particular those that challenge the implicit beliefs of development as well as its practical workings. This proposal is intended to correct that lack through a consideration of native notions of work, wealth, and well-being that come into view during specific development encounters. My analysis is anchored in native epistemologies, as they not only involve sophisticated theories of cognition, agency, and subjectivity, but also inform native senses of history, interculturality, and cultural change. First objective is to show that work, conceived in native terms as the process that materializes intentional thought and speech, is not only a defining element of personal and collective identities, and indispensable to the achievement of public wealth, but it also sustains indigenous self-dependence against assistentialist development programs. Second objective is to gain a better understanding of indigenous epistemologies, particularly as it relates to native senses of self, identity and well-being. Third objective is to show how these indigenous epistemologies are mobilized in intercultural contexts, and sustain indigenous prospects in the modern world, for instance in terms of capacity building and rights. Finally, research is intended to advance knowledge of notions of ownership, property and public wealth in Amerindian societies.
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