Introduction
Development and Social Heterogeneity
“I just want people to respect me,” says Rosario as she sits on the curb under
the bright mountain sun with other women who have come into the dis-
trict capital, a ragged town of two- story buildings in the central Ec uador-
ian Andes, for a meeting of women in similar situations.1 Now twenty- eight
years old, Rosario is a Kichwa- speaking woman from one of the fourteen
indigenous peoples in Ec uador.2 She has good reason to ask for respect; her
life has offered few instances of opportunity, dignity, or security, based in an
impoverished peasant economy characterized by patchy access to educa-
tion, health care, and work, and hard, unpaid labor on small family- owned
plots of land. Moreover, Rosario is deaf, a fact that layers into the multiple
factors of deprivation affecting her and her family. Finding it difficult to un-
derstand what people say, she is swindled at urban markets, and at a young
age she was raped and left with a young daughter. Walking from her village
to the market where we now sit, next to street stalls selling polyester clothing
and pirated music
cds,
is a major undertaking, as she leaves el derly parents
at home and attempts to sell potatoes and a few onions at a price sufficient
to buy necessities such as cooking oil, bread, sugar, and school clothes.
Speaking Kichwa but no Spanish (the language of elites, cities, and govern-
ment) exposes Rosario to racist comments and disdainful behavior from
urban stallholders and customers. Compounding these difficulties, Rosario
was expelled from her village, similar to others in Chimborazo province (see
fig. I.1), as she could not fulfill the labor and attendance requirements for
membership, meaning she lacks the formal status to be involved in local
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