Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond

Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond

New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century

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Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 3 maps, 2 figures Published: September 2010

Author: Mario Blaser

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

For more than fifteen years, Mario Blaser has been involved with the Yshiro people of the Paraguayan Chaco as they have sought to maintain their world in the face of conservation and development programs promoted by the state and various nongovernmental organizations. In this ethnography of the encounter between modernizing visions of development, the place-based “life projects” of the Yshiro, and the agendas of scholars and activists, Blaser argues for an understanding of the political mobilization of the Yshiro and other indigenous peoples as part of a struggle to make the global age hospitable to a “pluriverse” containing multiple worlds or realities. As he explains, most knowledge about the Yshiro produced by non-indigenous “experts” has been based on modern Cartesian dualisms separating subject and object, mind and body, and nature and culture. Such thinking differs profoundly from the relational ontology enacted by the Yshiro and other indigenous peoples. Attentive to people’s unique experiences of place and self, the Yshiro reject universal knowledge claims, unlike Western modernity, which assumes the existence of a universal reality and refuses the existence of other ontologies or realities. In Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond, Blaser engages in storytelling as a knowledge practice grounded in a relational ontology and attuned to the ongoing struggle for a pluriversal globality.


“Blaser contributes an engaging storytelling of the entangled penetration of globalisation, development projects and politics, and how these are contested and experienced by the Yshiro Indians.” — Silvia Hirsch, Bulletin of Latin American Research

“With consistent erudition, impressive command of the literature, and a stunning depth of engagement with Yshiro lives and thoughts, it challenges the reader to ask more of ethnography and more of the world. Even its politics will challenge most readers, as Blaser asks us to give up on self referential objects like ‘indigenous people’ and think more deeply about the relations we engage in even the most fundamental acts of representation. This is a necessary and timely intervention, both in anthropology and in all disciplines interested in development, colonialism and Latin American politics.“
— Kregg Hetherington, Journal of Peasant Studies

Storytelling Globalization: From the Chaco and Beyond is a creative—and to some lengths courageous—attempt to demonstrate a different kind of ethnography. . . . Blaser is attempting to tell stories of globalization from and with the Yshiro, and the result will prove an important model for practitioners interested in producing knowledge that in a nonreductive register.” — Jeremy M. Campbell, American Anthropologist

“A timely contribution to the ethnographic record of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, this book … about the Yshiro, also known as Chamacoco, of the Alto Paraguay Chaco constitutes an innovative anti-totalizing text inspired by border theory and postwestern thought... The book strengthens studies on Native American Societies, specifically the stunning resilience of South American Indians, complementing an experience of survival with other socionatures around the world.” — Guillermo Delgado-P., Canadian Journal of Native Studies

“This is an important contribution to anthropological efforts to go beyond critical analysis of development towards a deeper understanding of such projects.” — John Gledhill, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“With a sensitivity to the political nature of the politics of representation, the author passionately argues for a dialogue of knowledge in order to make visible the “anomalies” experienced by Yshiro-Ebitoso communities in Paraguay since 1986, and the political consequences from development interventions beyond the Chaco.” — Alberto Arce, The Americas

Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond is an anthropological tour de force with strong philosophical, political, epistemic, and ontological implications. Mario Blaser shifts the geopolitics of knowing and reasoning by looking at globalization not only from the south but also and mainly through the eyes of those who endure its consequences. In the narratives Blaser presents, border thinking takes on new dimensions and is shown to be an essential aspect of de-colonial thought. Notions about ‘objectivity’ and ‘universal truth’ necessarily give way to a recognition of ontological diversity.” — Walter D. Mignolo, author of The Idea of Latin America

“In this instructive and original work, modernity and the drama of globalization offer a historical horizon in relation to which both the activity of the anthropologist and the problems faced by the Yshiro communities in Paraguay are explored. Border dialogue (perhaps even border anthropology) is born precisely in the encounter between modern globalizing tendencies and the opening up of a different global imaginary, one rooted in the reality of there being many epistemic and social worlds.” — Nelson Maldonado-Torres, author of Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity

“Mario Blaser’s talented and deeply insightful storytelling opens up paths into the transition from modernity to globality. Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond is a work of depth, scholarship, and hopefulness. Blaser’s years of learning and collaborating with the Yshiro people of the Paraguayan Chaco have pressed him to ask questions that destabilize much of the taken-for-granted knowledge of the Euromodern academy. With his research interlocutor Don Veneto Vera to prod him into dialogical investigations of relational ontologies in the pluriverse, Blaser brings us, the readers, into places where incisiveness, analysis, and passionate commitment converge. This book demonstrates and enacts the power of strong stories: to change our understandings, to open other worlds, to give us untamed glimpses of substantive alternatives for life on Earth.” — Deborah Bird Rose, author of Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation

“When ‘the rest’ meets ‘the West,’ are the modern stories enough? In this deeply disturbing and thought-provoking book, Mario Blaser shows that for the marginalized and exploited, the world is storied and materialized quite differently. Forced to recognize that hegemonic Western knowledges, institutions, and worlds deny those realities, Blaser tells a destabilizing but ultimately affirmative story that is simultaneously analytical, political, and ontological. This superb book will be compulsory reading for all students of anthropology, development studies, postcolonialism, and science and technology studies.” — John Law, author of After Method: Mess in Social Science Research


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mario Blaser is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. He is a co-editor of In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects, and Globalization.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series viii

Map List ix

Preface xi

Introduction. Globalization and the Struggle for Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise 1

1. Puruhle/Genealogies

1. Laissez-Faire Progress: Invisibilizing the Yrmo 41

2. State-Driven Development: Stabilizing Modernity 63

3. Sustainable Development: Modernity Unravels? 80

2. Porowo/Moralities

4. Enacting the Yrmo 105

5. Taming Differences 126

3. Azle/Translations

6. Translating Neoliberalism 149

7. A World in which Many Worlds (Are Forced to) Fit 171

8. Becoming the Yshiro Nation 188

9. Reality Check 209

Conclusion. Eisheraho/Renewal 227

Acronyms 241

Notes 243

Glossary 257

References 259

Index 283
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4545-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4530-5
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