Piro people from the Urubamba river far to the east on the Purús, 1906

A Transforming Landscape of Journeys: An Ethnohistorical Reconstruction of Southwestern Amazonia in the Nineteenth Century

Professor P G Gow, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

Start Date: 25 September 2006, Duration: 9 months

The project is an ethnohistorical reconstruction of the nineteenth century regional landscape constituted by the meaning of collective long distance trading expeditions carried out by the Piro people over a vast region of Southwestern Amazonia (in what is now Peru and Brazil). These journeys ceased by 1912. The project looks at archival sources describing these journeys through the lens provided by phenomenological account (an ethnographic theory) of the meanings of settlement and movement based on late twentieth century Piro ethnographic data.

The main part of project is the collection and analysis of archival data libraries in the US, Peru and Brazil. This will provide the key data base for the reconstruction of that regional landscape as it was constructed out of specific trading journeys, and by more general patterns of movement between settlement areas of Piro peoples for this period.

Prior to this archival research, a period of two months will be spend generating, from ethnographic materials collected in the late twentieth century a general phenomenological account of meanings of settlement and movement for Piro people. This will be used to read the archival data from a perspective close that held by nineteenth century Piro people.

The final part of the project is the analysis of the data collected. While the ultimate dissemination of the projects will be in a scholarly book and articles, I plan in this period to write a popular travel book, combining accounts of the travels for the project, my experiences of living and traveling with Piro people and their accounts, the nineteenth century accounts from missionaries, travellers and explores in the archive, and my reconstructions of the meanings of travel for Piro people in the nineteenth century. I believe that such a book, focused on such topics would be helpful for increasing public understanding of anthropology and university research more generally.

Fonte: Landscape