White men and electric guns: analysing the Amazonian dystopia through Shipibo-Konibo children’s drawings

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In Andean countries, the pishtaco is understood as a White-looking man that steals Indigenous people’s organs for money. In contemporary Amazonia, the Shipibo-Konibo people describe the pishtaco as a high-tech murderer, equipped with a sophisticated laser gun that injects electricity inside a victim’s body. This paper looks at this dystopia through Shipibo-Konibo children’s drawings, presenting composite sketches of the pishtaco and maps of the village before and after an attack. Children portrayed White men with syringes and electric guns as weaponry, while discussing whether organ traffickers could also be mestizos nowadays. Meanwhile, the comparison of children’s maps before and after the attack reveals that lit lampposts are paradoxically perceived as a protection at night. The paper examines changing features of pishtacos and the dual capacity of electricity present in children’s drawings. It argues that children know about shifting racial dynamics in the village’s history and recognise development’s oxymoron: the same electricity that can be a weapon is also used as a shield.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-53
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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