5776 - Controversial Possessions: Conviviality, Animosity and the Ambiguous Assets of Public Wealth

For many indigenous societies of Greater Amazonia, the engagement in government and non-governmental programs has led to the intensified circulation of much desired and valued objects. Some of them, which were formerly valued according to notions of personal ownership, are now acquired by the community. This indicates the successful management of relations with white people through processes of acquisition dealt by community leaders. Yet the internal circulation and use of these objects generate controversies and debates. In this paper I shall analyse how social tensions erupt when two contiguous Kuna communities are involved in the same government program and share its outcomes – one motorboat, public telephones, or the implementation of healthcare. I will focus on such ambiguous assets of “public wealth” discussing what confers value to social possessions as materializations of community ownership. Disputes over their use will reveal how people make distinctions between themselves and others in the context of existing cycles of conviviality and animosity between communities.

Keywords: Community ownership, NGO, Objects, Sociality, Panama

Author: Margiotti, Margherita (University of Bristol, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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