Peruvian Amazon; ribereños; Cocama; acculturation; modernity


Combining a contemporary ethnographic perspective with a review of historical records, the article extends Peter Gow’s re-reading of the ex-Cocama phenomenon in the Western Amazon. It argues that the foundation of the Amazonian Peruvian town of Requena at the beginning of the 20th century took place during an important historical moment in the region. Within the post-rubber boom context, schools became a particularly important idiom that enabled Requena’s growth as the centre of education and modernity. The paper investigates relations between the widespread desire for education in the Ucamara region, and Cocama descendants’ and other “ribereño” ex-Mainas peoples’ specific notions of towns, identity, descent, and social aspirations.