The University of Arizona

Two ontologies of territory and a legal claim in the Ecuadorian Upper Amazon

Julián García Labrador, José Ochoa


The Secoya nation (Siekopai) of the Ecuadorian Upper Amazon, in its request for recognition of indigenous territories in a protected area, has appeared before the Republic of Ecuador's conservation regime with arguments based on an administrative and physical concept of territory. The Secoya worldview and culture, however, supposes an ontology of territory in which the geographic space, updated rituals, and their relationship with nature converge. In this article we analyze this important ontological difference in detail. We compare the territorial subjectivation processes produced by both ontologies: a Cartesian conceptual framework in the case of the State's political geography, and the Secoya's phenomenological ecology. Since the Secoya include a management plan for the protected area in their petition, it would seem they have internalized the State's rule regarding the principle of sustainability within conservation. We argue that sustainability is incompatible with the presence of a phenomenological ecology that makes them political subjects, and therefore it is a strategic inclusion that does not respond to their socio-ecological reality.

Keywords: Ecuadorian Amazon, legal request, territory, Amerindian graphism, subjectivation, ontology

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