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Wild things: manufacturing desire in the Urarina moral economy

Walker, Harry (2013) Wild things: manufacturing desire in the Urarina moral economy. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 18 (1). pp. 51-66. ISSN 1935-4932

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Drawing on the case of the Peruvian Urarina, this article seeks to understand the present high demand for Western trade goods among native Amazonian peoples by situating it within a broader economy of desire with roots in historical experiences of colonization. The relations of ‘taming’ that have long been a feature of encounters with outsiders, mediating an opposition between ‘savage’ and ‘civilized’ states, have become a central part of the caring dynamic between husbands and wives. This is increasingly focused on the provision of commodities, which are construed as akin to wild pets in need of taming and whose acquisition is a quintessentially male pursuit, much like hunting. While exacerbating existing gender asymmetries, this process points to gender as a key point of articulation between the subsistence economy and a penetrating market, and exemplifies the ‘decoding’ effects of capitalism, through which spheres of exchange are conflated and desires intensified.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 American Anthropological Association
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2012 10:54
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2020 01:21

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