Rupununi Imaginaries

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Title: Rupununi Imaginaries
Author: Macdonald, Katherine Louise
Abstract: Migration activity across the Guyanese-Brazilian border has increased considerably recently, and is impacting both the peoples and the environments of the Rupununi. The activities resulting from these migration movements threaten to increase pressures on Indigenous territories within Guyana, resulting in the annexation of traditional ancestral lands, leading to potential losses of subsistence and livelihood practices. By examining these movements through the lens of relations between the Indigenous Makushi and Wapishana peoples of the Rupununi and place-making, this dissertation aims to identify how accepting Indigenous ontologies as one of many perspectives of the world(s) helps in understanding places as multiple. Through this understanding and acceptance of multiplicities, these ontologies also contribute to new ways of imagining future(s). This ethnographic study was conducted through sixteen months of fieldwork within five Rupununi villages - Aishalton, Annai Central, Karasabai, St. Ignatius, and Shulinab - researching together with the Makushi and Wapishana peoples of the region who collectively live within the forest-savannah ecotone, mostly maintaining subsistence based lifestyles. By exploring personal histories, environments, and cosmologies, the possibilities for different, multiple, imaginaries-as-realities of the Rupununi are presented. In doing so, this study finds that Makushi and Wapishana ontologies are counter-imagining places, lands, and territories by re-engaging with the imaginaries of their ancestors, producing a complex set of alternate geographies. In using these imaginaries to produce different visions of place, Rupununi peoples are empowering themselves to create positive change within their lives in terms of how they want to build and develop their communities, livelihoods, environments, and cultural and political institutions.
Subject: Geography
Environmental studies
Latin American studies
Keywords: Amazon
Extractive resources
Imagined territories
Indigenous methodologies
Plantation ecology
Political ecology
Road ecology
Social natures
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
Supervisor: Peake, Linda Joyce
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Geography
Exam date: 2014-10-08
Publish on: 2015-08-28

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