as often happened in Pastaza, the rain forest’s reality m
tarily overwhelmed me. But this time it was the flood of cont
tions inherent in processes of globalization—not the daily t
tial rains—that made me pause. Alone in a dank, mildew-
room on the top floorof a rickety wooden building that served
headquarters of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of P
(opip), I fumbled with high-tech video equipment. It was the
mer of 1993. This was the Upper Amazon—one of those sup
‘‘faraway places’’—and there I was, an Anglo female, on the e
the world’s largest rain forest basin, with more sophisticated
chip technology than I had ever worked with back home. It
the fact that California, home to both the silicon industry a
oil giant conjured up through my viewing screen, seemed si
neously near and far. Rather, what caught and momentarily
whelmed me was how the scene I watched and transcribed re
the nasty knot of contention around modernity, transnationa
tions, and the governing of people in third-world places at t
of the twentieth century.
Teetering on a wobbly stool, I played and replayed the vid
of a meeting between an oil executive from arco (Atlantic
field Company), a representative of Ecuador’s Ministry of E
and Mines, and five indigenous opip leaders from Ecuador
tral Amazonian province of Pastaza. The meeting had been h
Quito, Ecuador’s capital, at the behest of the Indian federatio
rectorship. arco had discovered petroleum in the province an
begun drilling its second oil well to assess the reservoir’s size a
quality of its crude. The oil concession was located within i
nous territory, and leaders from the Indian federation had tr
to the Andean capital to denounce arco’s oil operations withi
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