Studying/helping the Shipibo-Conibo
Studying/helping the Shipibo-Conibo
Hello. I am a student of Anthropology at the University of Warsaw (Master's Degree). This summer I will be going to Peru to study the Shipibo-Conibo. Under a master's program, we do not receive any funding for our projects. This means that I must fund my project (which I think is incredibly significant - I will explain below) myself. I am a full-time student, working only part-time.
I plan on conducting an ethnographic study of the Shipibo-Conibo for 2 months on-site in Peru. This tribe is well known for their knowledge and uses of medicinal plants, which have become an object of intrigue for Westerners. My goal is to study how this mass explosion of the influx of Westerners is changing the lives as well as traditions of the Shipibo-Conibo.
In wishing to study the Shipibo-Conibo, which are currently undergoing significant changes due to the influx of Westerners, I want to preserve, explore, and record a moment in history before it is lost in the flood of changes. My project will establish an account of the recent past - the Shipibo's traditions, daily rituals, activities, etc. - before the influx of Westerners and contrast it with what is currently happening, i.e. what changes have or are beginning to take root in the life of the Shipibo-Conibo. This is absolutely relevant to our present and future because we are searching for ever-growing ways to understand our own culture, ourselves, as well as broaden our knowledge and understanding. Also, this information is relevant for the future due to the fact that, if I shall discover aspects that may be harmful to the Shipibo and their heritage, this project may be able to help, slow down, or even prevent the loss of a culture and its ancient traditions. In focusing on the present, we will be able to see the current global situation in regards to what people are seeking, why they are seeking it, and to what this may lead. A variety of aspects - all interwoven - influence the direction of our global society. Where are we headed? Why do we need "healing?" What can we do in the future to prevent destruction through taking? These are a few of the crucial points in how my project addresses the past, present, and future. Also, acquiring such information through ethnographic research will also help us to see in which direction this entire phenomena is headed, how or if we should regulate it, and whether the cultural heritage of this tribe is at risk.
Some of the (theoretical) questions my thesis shall pose and answer will include: is the flocking of Westerners to these sacred lands beneficial to these tribes and the expansion of their own cultural heritage? Or, is it in fact, creating “capitalistic” tendencies in the people of those tribes? Is it exploitation? And if so, who is being exploited? Do the risks outweigh the benefits – for both sides? How are these tribes at risk once they choose to open the doors of their sacred beliefs to the Westerners? How are the Westerners at risk? To what extent should a culture or society share their beliefs for the benefit of “foreign” people – before its own values and systems are depleted? Are centuries-old traditions being exploited by Westerners as another “quick-fix” to the multiplicity of modern issues Western cultures present?
I would be incredibly grateful for any support - not only for me, but for these people and the potential threat to the traditions and lives of the Shipibo-Conibo.
Allocation of funds
The money donated will be appropriated towards my flight ticket to Peru. The funding I am asking for is only a small fraction of my expenses. Without being on-site in Peru, my fieldwork is not possible.
PS: For a long time I was worried by how I will fund this idea/project, and then I remembered that I am not alone ;) --- and that there is a whole planet of people who might appreciate what I want to do.