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Life in Oil: Cofán Survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia

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Oil is one of the world's most important commodities, but few people know how its extraction affects the residents of petroleum-producing regions. In the 1960s, the Texaco corporation discovered crude in the territory of Ecuador's indigenous Cofán nation. Within a decade, Ecuador had become a member of OPEC, and the Cofán watched as their forests fell, their rivers ran black, and their bodies succumbed to new illnesses. In 1993, they became plaintiffs in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that aims to compensate them for the losses they have suffered. Yet even in the midst of a tragic toxic disaster, the Cofán have refused to be destroyed. While seeking reparations for oil's assault on their lives, they remain committed to the survival of their language, culture, and rainforest homeland.

Life in Oil presents the compelling, nuanced story of how the Cofán manage to endure at the center of Ecuadorian petroleum extraction. Michael L. Cepek has lived and worked with Cofán people for more than twenty years. In this highly accessible book, he goes well beyond popular and academic accounts of their suffering to share the largely unknown stories that Cofán people themselves create-the ones they tell in their own language, in their own communities, and to one another and the few outsiders they know and trust. Their words reveal that life in oil is a form of slow, confusing violence for some of the earth's most marginalized, yet resilient, inhabitants.


ISBN-13: 9781477315071

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Publication Date: 04-02-2018

Pages: 302

Product Dimensions: 8.50h x 5.50w x 0.81d

Michael L. Cepek is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is a board member of the Cofán Survival Fund, a US nonprofit that supports the Fundación Sobrevivencia Cofán, a Cofán-directed environmental and human rights organization, and the author of A Future for Amazonia: Randy Borman and Cofán Environmental Politics.