Face Paint & Feathers: Ethnic Identity as Symbolic Resource in the Indigenous Movement of Ecuador
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The indigenous of the Amazon region of Ecuador unite against the petroleum industry and destructive resource extraction practices in order to preserve environment and indigenous cultures. Since the 1990s, the indigenous movement of Ecuador has played out in the international arena and become a transnational movement, which includes social actors from the international legal, human rights, and environmental communities. This transnational movement exemplifies identity politics through the projection of ethnicity and essentialized signifiers of indigenousness. Indigenous actors, Ecuadoran nongovernmental organizations, international filmmakers, and US nongovernmental organizations all use ethnic identity and signifiers via documentaries and cyberspace as symbolic resources to represent the movement.
This thesis explores the intersection of external actors (international community of filmmakers and NGOs) and internal actors' (the indigenous themselves and Ecuadoran NGOs) projection of ethnicity as symbolic resource. Utilizing resource mobilization theory and new social movement theory as a syncretic to understand the movement and theoretical contributions of identity and representation to explore the process of mobilization, the study explores the question of ethnic identity as symbolic resource in four documentaries and on fifteen websites. The discourse analysis of the four documentaries and content analysis of the fifteen websites illustrate that there is consistency in the message within the transnational social movement community of actors who strive to work for and on behalf of the indigenous of the Ecuadoran Amazon.
- Masters Theses