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Matthew Ford

Matt FordPhD Candidate

Dissertation Title: Contested Rule in the Internal Colony: Indians, Elites, Missionaries, and the State in Ecuadorian Amazonia


Interests: Frontiers and Borderlands, Race & Ethnicity, Race-Thinking, Liberalism, State-Formation.


My dissertation traces the transformation of the Ecuadorian Amazon from a relatively isolated outpost with only a skeletal state infrastructure to the heart of the national economy and a theater of a massive state-guided internal colonial project. I examine how global flows of people, commodities, and ideas converged on and transformed the region from the 1895 Liberal Revolution to the 1970s, when a powerful indigenous social movement emerged to resist frontier colonization. I show how settler dependence on indigenous labor created a paradox in the frontier project. While elites professed a desire to modernize and culturally “de-Indianize” the region, they remained materially invested in maintaining an explicitly   indigenous  labor force. Thus, I show how global commodity flows, local racialized labor regimes, and settler race-thinking shaped the contours of state-formation.

My writing has appeared or is forthcoming in   A Contracorriente: una revista de estudios latinoamericanos, Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies, Public Seminar:   Journal of Ideas, Politics, and Culture , Z Magazine,   and   Flies, Cockroaches & Poets: Journal of the Chicano Writers and Artists Association.


Research Profile
Advisor: Brooke Larson