Invited Talk: Extraction, Conservation, and Contingent Labor in the Peruvian Amazon


The newly established Continuity and Change in the Andes and Amazonia Humanities Institute Working Group and CLAS Andean Studies Working Group invited me to give a talk about my ethnographic research in Amazonia that has been ongoing for the past 5+ years. The event was absolutely fabulous and I’ve already made new scholarly connections! If you are interested in getting on the Andes/Amazonia listserv and attending upcoming talks, please email the WG’s founder, Dr. Michelle Wibbelsman (Wibbelsman dot 1@


In the above image, I’m discussing native people living in voluntary isolation (specifically the Mascho-Piro) and why their popular label as “uncontacted people” is theoretically naive, historically inaccurate, and politically troublesome. For more on this subject, read anthropologist Glenn Shepard’s guest blog post over at Savage Minds. Shepard writes:

Yet they [Mascho-Piro] are hardly throwbacks to the “Stone Age,” as some media outlets present them. In fact, the Mashco-Piro are every bit as modern as, well, the automobile and the rubber tire. In the late 19th century, before John Boyd Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire and Henry Ford drove the first “horseless carriage” out of his shed in Detroit, the Mashco-Piro inhabited the upper Manu River in settled agricultural villages.


WELCOME TO THE OBRERO! This first post is intended to signify a new era of my anthropological life as a PhD candidate. Several things exist around the corner:

1) I’m currently finishing a manuscript about the conceptual, methodological, and ethical issues arising from conducting more dynamic, iterative, and sometimes ‘digital’ ethnographic research (something my advisor and I have begun to call ‘hyper-ethnography’).

2) I’ve started a new manuscript using my ethnographic findings on gold mining labor in Amazonia to further develop a model of unequal exchange.

3) and finally, my wife and I are preparing to embark on a year-long trip to Andes/Amazonia Peru to complete dissertation fieldwork. Watch this site, as there will be many more things to come, including videos, audio recordings, photography, ethnographic blurbs, ethnographic reflections, and more!


A photo from the obelisk of typical traffic in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru from the 2013 field season. This image captures the busy everyday lives of hardworking people in Amazonia. See the photography page for more images from last year’s fieldwork!