Tile for Margherita Scazza's contribution: Chanted Memories
Chanted memories: Waorani storytelling of extractivism . Margherita Scazza

Margherita Scazza

Chanted memories
Waorani storytelling of resistance

Chanted memories: Waorani storytelling of extractivism . Margherita Scazza
Chanted memories: Waorani storytelling of extractivism . Margherita Scazza

This contribution is a collection of short videos of traditional Waorani chanted storytelling. The project stems from my doctoral research, which engages with current practices of resistance and political mobilisation against oil extraction among Waorani communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in the province of Pastaza.
In 2019, sixteen communities launched the Resistencia Waorani to oppose the auctioning of their territory, coinciding with an alleged oil block (Block 22). My research explores the implications of their grassroots-based techno-cartographic-legal strategies of resistance, aimed at keeping oil in the ground. During my six months fieldwork, I collected testimonies of life before and during the oil era, as well as of hope for the future.

Chanting is a very important form of storytelling and communication among the Waorani, who practice it during their celebrations as well as in their daily lives. Women chant to describe their activities or the subjects that inhabit their world, such as plants and animals, as well as to express their feelings, or to recall past events. For this reason, I invited research participants, particularly women, to share their knowledge and thoughts through this traditional form of expression. I decided to record their chants so that, along with my academic findings, I could present their messages, as far as possible free from my own interpretation. Through this project, I am hoping to let their words speak for their worlds.

Most of the songs recorded have been passed down through generations, dating back to when the Waorani lived with little or no contact with the colonial Ecuadorian society. They tell stories about the territory and the relationship of use and care the Waorani have with it. Other songs, like Unime’s one, are messages directed to the outside world, appeals for understanding and solidarity.

Having witnessed the impact of oil in other Waorani communities and indigenous territories in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, these pikenani (wise elders) women have been firm in rejecting oil activities in their communities. They were the catalyst force behind the Resistencia Waorani, which brought the Ecuadorian authorities to uphold the Waorani people’s rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consultation.


take action

Margherita’s work has been made in collaboration with two indigenous organisations, whose work has been essential for the Resistencia Waorani. You can find out more and support their work through the links below:

Alianza Ceibo is a foundation created by four indigenous nationalities of the Amazon: A’i Kofan, Siekopai, Siona and Waorani. The Waorani team has been offering technical support to the communities by, for instance, leading a participatory mapping process, or through the installation of solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.

CONCONAWEP is the political organisation leading the Resistencia Waorani campaign, which unites and coordinates all communities in the province of Pastaza.

The international NGO Amazon Frontlines has been assisting the Waorani and other indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon to organise in the face of the pandemic.
You can donate to the Emergency Action Fund they have created with other organisations to fight the spread of the virus, offer the means for emergency interventions and take legal actions against negligent State authorities: https://www.amazonfrontlines.org/amazon-action-fund/


continue to view Chanted Memories Waorani storytelling of resistance


take action

Margherita’s work has been made in collaboration with two indigenous organisations, whose work has been essential for the Resistencia Waorani. You can find out more and support their work through the links below:

Alianza Ceibo is a foundation created by four indigenous nationalities of the Amazon: A’i Kofan, Siekopai, Siona and Waorani. The Waorani team has been offering technical support to the communities by, for instance, leading a participatory mapping process, or through the installation of solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.

CONCONAWEP is the political organisation leading the Resistencia Waorani campaign, which unites and coordinates all communities in the province of Pastaza.

The international NGO Amazon Frontlines has been assisting the Waorani and other indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon to organise in the face of the pandemic.
You can donate to the Emergency Action Fund they have created with other organisations to fight the spread of the virus, offer the means for emergency interventions and take legal actions against negligent State authorities: https://www.amazonfrontlines.org/amazon-action-fund/

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