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Urban Indigenous Migration in the Ecuadorian Amazon Region: Quotidian Mobilities and the Production of Indigenous Spatialities

Topics: Latin America, Indigenous Peoples, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Ecuadorian Amazon, visceral geography, women, indigenous migration, mobility, indigenous planning
Session Type: Paper
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In the Ecuadorian Amazon, urban indigenous migration has accelerated over the last 20 years resulting in complex gender, socioeconomic, and political changes embedded in myriad cityscape changes. Indigenous women are disproportionally affected by social inequities, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation, segregation, and gender violence. This project investigates the quotidian mobilities and the production of indigenous spatialities in Puyo city. Using theoretical frameworks and methods that favor lived experience over mainstream migration models, I map indigenous everyday mobilities, the visceral experiences during their movements, and analyze their production of multiple, shifting identities, specifically between young indigenous women. This study pioneers in focusing on the ways in which Kichwa epistemology produces spatiality on-the-move in the Amazonian region. With the results of this study, I aim to destabilize colonial rhetorics and ethnocentric notions of indigenous urban migration to draw attention to how people’s everyday mobilities are different due to space and place, gender, identity, ethnicity, and generation. I critically analyze migration, its intricacies, and opportunities in the urbanization process, and identity formations in modernity. I also foreground the agency and potentials of indigenous women during their visceral mobile geographies. A better understanding of indigenous mobility and its spatiality is crucial to advance “Right to the City” discussions. Doing so also will help address persistent social exclusions in the Global North. This paper draws upon empirical research developed over six months (Summer’s 2018, 2019) and auto-ethnographic analysis of my professional experience working as a geographer and planner with the Kichwa nation, Ecuadorian Amazon (2010-2019).

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