Amazonia, Ceramics, Coca, Cultural Patrimony, Drug Trafficking, Ticuna


In Ticuna communities across Amazonia, ceramics are useful objects employed for cooking and storage. Their practical importance, however, does not describe the extent of their significance. In the following article, we consider Ticuna ceramics and ceramic-making practices as a means of studying the changes set in motion by the transformation of Ticuna ancestral lands in Peru’s lowland Amazonian region into zones of illicit coca cultivation. Drawing on mixed-methods ethnographic research, including participant observation, interviews, and a participatory film project focused on ceramic production, we evaluate contemporary practices of ceramic-making within three Peruvian Ticuna communities in the context of these transformations, and the national government’s subsequent responses to the coca situation. Ceramics are a starting point to explore a complex web of relations as Ticuna communities intersect with both drug-trafficking operations and agents of the Peruvian state.