In collaboration with the Waorani community of Tepapare of the Ecuadorian Amazonia, I am crafting a document to reflect the human-other-than-human relationships embodied in the creation of traditional objects by contemporary Waorani groups. The work links the community’s territorial sovereignty and material culture. The objects made by the groups reify a series of multi-species and multi-worlds encounters that take place—and 'make place'—in the tropical forests of the Yasuní region. One of the study's goals is to spatially represent such 'places of assemblage' by collaboratively mapping and drawing these encounters in an 'artifact cartography.'
The project develops an open archive alongside the Tepapare community composed of drawings, maps, photographs, video footage, audio recordings, oral histories, and traditional songs. Together they document the entangled territorial and cosmological assemblages present in complex production processes. The research focuses on the socio-ecological processes in making the traditional Ñoon, the Waorani hammocks. Ñoon's production involves intense trekking through the forest and gathering source materials throughout vast portions of the group's traditional territory. While chanting songs that recall the human-other-than-human relations embodied in the materials, the Tepapare women collectively weave together memory, place, and matter, inscribing their sense of continuous bodily reciprocity with the Amazon. The resulting artifact is an archival assemblage, a counter-map that makes Waorani ontology and territorial occupation legible, despite attempts at erasure through colonization.
By closely and collaboratively mapping this socio-ecology, I suggest that weaving the Ñoon becomes a way of inter-community solidarity in a territory that entangles multiple worlds and forms of life. Weaving becomes a way of inhabiting and defending the forest—a form of world-making at odds with the rationalization and disenchantment of Yasuní's capitalist extractive practices. These practices threaten to reduce the multitude of ontologies in the Öme—the world-forest inhabited by the Waorani.