Yine, Asháninka, Ashéninka, kinship, Comunidad Nativa


In Of Mixed Blood, Peter Gow sets out an account of the transformations of kinship and the construction of social relations among Indigenous, mainly Yine (Piro), people of the Bajo Urubamba valley in the early 1980s, when Peru’s “Comunidades Nativas” (“Native Communities”) were receiving their new official titles. We revisit Peter’s proposition by comparing it our more recent ethnographic engagements with Indigenous Asháninka/Ashéninka communities in the region. While tracing continuities from his observations, we also show how social relations now play out in different ways, as certain important resources have become scarcer and the need for money is increasingly central for people’s wellbeing. This new context is framed by the expansion of the extractive frontier, a different legal regime of access to land and resources in Comunidades Nativas, and expanding Indigenous groups living in smaller and increasingly degraded areas. In this context, we see not the embracing of new forms of overarching solidarity linked to Comunidades, but rather the shrinking of familial units within these titled territories. The article reflects on Peter’s propositions through vignettes that show how processes of making and unmaking social relations and creating new identities play out in different settings while still maintaining an internal coherence.