“Esta carretera nos atraviesa”: Indigenous girls’ body-territory mapping in the emergence of Chinese capital in the Bolivian Amazon.

Authors: Nohely Guzman-Narvaez*, University of Texas At Austin
Topics: Women, Qualitative Methods, Latin America
Keywords: Body-Territory, Chinese capital, Latin America, Bolivian Amazon, Infrastructure
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 39
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The geopolitical dynamics now disputed by China have been widely analyzed as macro-structural processes in which the lives of those who experience their effects in an intimate and embodied way are omitted. Although the rapid expansion of Chinese capital in Latin America has brought the attention of some policy-makers and scholars, few have approached the territories and peoples themselves in which Chinese capital has settled. My research charts the experiences of indigenous women and girls from a community in the Bolivian Amazon impacted by the construction of a highway financed and built by a Chinese company. Grounded on ethnographic work and feminist participatory mapping, I analyze three “body-territory” (Guzman, 2014; Cabnal, 2015) maps made by indigenous girls and their mothers about the transformations they experience with the Chinese presence in their territory. This community-based approach allows me to explore the intersections of gender, age, and race that are the subject of interest of feminist geography. Drawing on indigenous feminist theory, I analyze the situated, embodied, and emotional geographies engendered in global dynamics of power. This case informs the daily-life violence experienced by indigenous women and their communities with Chinese capital, the restructuring of community life around the company and its workers, and the fears and opportunities inscribed in their body-territory. I argue that these maps offer insights to the theorization of living epistemologies of the body-territory, contribute nuances to understand the complexity of the Chinese expansion in Latin America, and the importance of decolonizing Cartesian methodologies, spatiality, corporeity, and affect.

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