cover of book

The Life and Times of Grandfather Alonso: Culture and History in the Upper Amazon
by Blanca Muratorio
Rutgers University Press, 1991
eISBN: 978-0-8135-5939-1 | Paper: 978-0-8135-1685-1 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-1684-4
Library of Congress Classification F3721.1.N3M8613 1991
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.8983


In Blanca Muratorio's book, we are introduced to Rucuyaya Alonso, an elderly Quichua Indian of the Upper Ecuadorean Amazon. Alonso is a hunter, but like most Quichuas, he has done other work as well, bearing loads, panning gold, tapping rubber trees, and working for Shell Oil. He tells of his work, his hunting, his marriage, his fights, his fears, and his dreams. His story covers about a century because he incorporates the oral tradition of his father and grandfather along with his own memories. Through his life story, we learn about the social and economic life of that region.

Chapters of Alonso's life history and oral tradition alternate with chapters detailing the history of the world around him--the domination of missionaries, the white settlers' expropriation of land, the debt system workers were subjected to, the rubber boom, the world-wide crisis of the 1930s, and the booms and busts of the international oil market.  Muratorio explains the larger social, economic, and ideological bases of white domination over native peoples in Amazonia. She shows how through everyday actions and thoughts, the Quichua Indians resisted attacks against their social identity, their ethnic dignity, and their symbolic systems. They were far from submissive, as they have often been portrayed.     


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