Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River


Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River

Kinship and History in the Western Amazon

Mary-Elizabeth Reeve

222 pages
14 photographs, 2 maps, glossary, index


January 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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January 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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January 2022


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About the Book

Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River is an exploration of the dynamics of regional societies and the ways in which kinship relationships define the scale of these societies. It details social relations across Kichwa-speaking indigenous communities and among neighboring members of other ethnolinguistic groups to explore the multiple ways in which the regional society is conceptualized among Amazonian Kichwa.

Drawing on recent studies in kinship, landscape from an indigenous perspective, and social scaling, Mary-Elizabeth Reeve presents a view of Amazonian Kichwa as embedded in a multiethnic regional society of great historic depth. This book is a fine-grained ethnography of the Kichwa of the Curaray River region (Curaray Runa) in which Reeve focuses on ideas of social landscape, as well as residence, extended kin groups, historical memory, and collective ritual celebration, to show the many ways in which Curaray Runa express their placement within a regional society. The final chapter examines social scaling as it is currently unfolding in indigenous societies in Amazonian Ecuador through increasing multisited residence and political mobilization.

Based on intensive fieldwork, Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River breaks new ground in Amazonian studies by focusing on extended kinship networks at a larger scale and by utilizing both ethnographic and archival research of Amazonian regional systems.



Author Bio

Mary-Elizabeth Reeve is the retired director of the Global Perinatal Health Education Programs at the March of Dimes Foundation. She is the author of a number of articles on Amazonian Kichwa society and history, and a book written and published in Spanish about the Kichwa of Curaray.


"The text, supplemented with copious endnotes, a substantial index, and a short glossary, will be broadly useful to social scientists focusing on topics relating to kinship and indigenous societies and more specifically valuable to Andeanists."—D. L. Browman, Choice

"This historically informed ethnography is a major achievement. It is hoped that the book will stimulate further such approaches in the future."—Mark Harris, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Reeve's book provides the next generation of ethnographers with solid ground upon which to build a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of Amazonian kinship and relations over time and space."—Christina Callicott, American Anthropologist

Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River offers a way to understand both small-scale Indigenous life and large-scale Indigenous geocultural relationships in a unified framework. This is a major contribution to the field of Indigenous studies, Latin American studies, and Amazonian studies. It will become a must-read.”—Norman E. Whitten Jr., author of Puyo Runa: Imagery and Power in Modern Amazonia

Amazonian Kichwa of the Curaray River presents an original and nuanced argument about kinship that shows how Amazonian people live through relational systems of kinship that span space, time, and ecological relations with the landscape. . . . This book is based on a lifetime of careful study, thought, and fieldwork. . . . The writing style is clear, fluid, and compelling.”—Michael Uzendoski, coauthor of The Ecology of the Spoken Word: Amazonian Storytelling and the Shamanism among the Napo Runa

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1. Landscape and Kinship in a Regional Society

2. Ayllu and Llacta

3. Runa on the Curaray River

4. The Ritual of Community 

5. Ayllu across the Regional Society

6. Healing, Song, and Narrative

7. The Enduring Regional Society





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