Jean Lievens: Indigenous Economy & Ethical Work in Ecuador

Civil Society, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics
Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

Indigenous Economy & Ethical Work in Ecuador – Dissertation Reviews

From dissertationreviews.org May 6, 10:43 AM

Drawing on a range of personal experiences and ethnographic fieldwork conducted over a number of years, Kristine Latta’s Merchant Moralities is a detailed and sympathetic account of the moral predicaments faced by Otavalo’s indigenous comerciantes/merchants. Working with Otavaleño communities, indigenous leaders, family members and friends, Latta explores life as it unfolds in and around the town itself, in family homes in the community of Peguche, and also on travels within the United States. Through careful descriptions, we learn of the particular transformations and vulnerabilities that these entrepreneurs face, as they engage in the decidedly transnational textile and tourism industries. These transformations coincide with actions elsewhere associated with a revalorization of indigeneity – both in localised spaces and particular cultural practices, and also more broadly on the national political stage. What can the distinct moral experiences of Otavalo’s merchants tell us more broadly about the dynamics of cultural change, the recalibration of tradition, and the complexities of contemporary indigenous experience? Focusing on people’s responses to shifts in priorities and contested commitments, we see how merchants articulate their own entrepreneurial values as personalised expressions of indigeneity, and do so amidst the novel opportunities and conspicuous disparities that their livelihoods create.