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Mass Media and the Ideology of Appropriation in Peru: The Rationalizations and Justifications Used in Peru for the Invasion and Appropriation of the Lands Used by the Mascho Piro Tribe

Gonzalez, Jose Juan Carlos

In Peru today uncontacted tribes are facing racist and culturally engrained biased perceptions that view and present these communities as being primitive and violent beings. These discriminatory, prejudiced and ethno-centric attitudes serve as a normative violence and the backbone of pro-colonization arguments used by governments and agencies to not only establish contact where convenient, but to substantiate the annexing of their lands and resources. Responsible media coverage of these groups is particularly important, in order for human rights, territorial rights, and right to no contact of Amazonian indigenous tribes be recognized and respected both locally and by the international community (Watson, 2013). Recent studies have shown that globally, indigenous people today have poorer indices of health and well-being than most other population groups in the same countries (Stephens et al, 2006). Isolated peoples are particularly vulnerable with extremely high rates of morbidity and mortality related to the introduction of new diseases (Napolitano 2007, Hurtado et al 2001). The impact of contact and of allowing extraction of resources within the lands of Amazonian indigenous tribes has been described by anthropologists and missionaries as genocide (e.g. Shepard 1999, SLOPA 1980-1989). Virgin soil epidemics – epidemics of ‘novel’ diseases introduced by outsiders – have accounted for the deaths of millions of indigenous Americans over the last five hundred years (Dobyns 1993, Myers 1988). First ‘face-to-face’ contacts are estimated to lead to the death of between a third and half of the population within the first five years, and sometimes more (Hill and Hurtado, 1996). The aggressive and rapid “expansion of mega-development and construction projects (oil and gas extraction, mining, hydro-electric dams, railroads and highways), logging and agro-industries (cattle, soya and ethanol)” leaves uncontacted peoples vulnerable to disease and exploitation and the disappearance of their peoples all at the will of large private economic and political interests (Watson, 2013). This research paper will focus on the societal and economic factors leading to forced contact of the isolated Mascho Piro tribe in the Madre de Dios region of Peru and attempts to contribute to this body of work by analyzing media coverage of recent sightings and established contact. This paper presents an in depth review of indigenous human rights through a content analysis of Peruvian newspaper headline coverage during 2007 and 2015 involving the Mascho Piro tribe and surrounding communities through a study of themes, issue attributes, tone, and actors.

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Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nathan, Andrew J.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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