UCL Anthropology Working Papers Series
University College London
14 Taviton Street, London
WC1H 0BW, U.K.
Editorial Board: Lucio Vinicius, Victor Buchli
Working Paper No. 18/2016
Published online 7 December 2016
© Copyright rests with the authors
'THE FARMERS' PART': AN ETHNOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION OF NEW ENVIRONMENTAL SCENERIES
Dissertation submitted in 2015 for the MRes Anthropology
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2015 in a rainforest valley of Peruvian Amazonia, this dissertation looks at the dynamics between the implementation of environmental programmes and local farmers' visions of the world. Such dynamics are read through the lens of a metaphor: the development of environmental programmes is seen as the setting up of a play, with the construction of a specific scene and specific roles. I describe how environmental organisations followed contemporary processes of neoliberalisation of nature to re-construct and re-territorialise the valley as a new environmental scene for wealth to grow from. I discovered that this scene was based on a specific acting contract stipulating that farmers were to perform conservation for environmental organisations to support development. I had to long observe farmers' rehearsal of these new roles to realise that, behind the scenes, the performance was transforming their own cosmologies. I believed at first that farmers were reconstructing their world and identities according to old scenarios involving the poor 'South', in need for education, and the rich 'North', teaching culture. Yet, I realised that in fact farmers were re-enacting themselves in terms of a place they were actively producing and of the new social cohesion and tranquillity stemming from it.