Indigenous protest, social networks, and ethnic stereotyping: some insights from the Peruvian Amazon

This article examines the nature of social protest undertaken by an Amazonian indigenous organisation against international energy companies working in Peru. It analyses the response of Peruvian and international NGOs to the indigenous group’s activities and challenges certain stereotypes concerning the nature of indigenous collective action and perceptions of community. In particular, it focuses on the way in which NGO workers attempt to explain the failure of the indigenous organisation to mobilise and sustain collective protest. The paper highlights the dissonance between romanticisation of indigeneity and the lived reality of the indigenous group. It advocates the use of anthropological studies and social movement theory to explore the limits to indigenous mobilisation and suggests their use for more sensitive planning of initiatives with indigenous groups. As demand for oil and gas grows across the globe, and governments in developing countries seek to increase revenues from lucrative extractive industries, clashes between indigenous groups and energy companies are likely to increase. The need for sensitive engagement between NGOs and indigenous groups is therefore of the utmost importance.