Those stories exist : ethnographic and poetic elements to a Quichua conversational narrative
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In this work, I look at a Quichua conversational narrative concerning a local waterfall and the “beautiful life” inside it. After providing ethnographic and linguistic background the story, I apply three ethnopoetic modes of representing oral poetry, followed by a reflection, then a conclusion. Analytically, I show that the narrative is much more than thingified, monochrome words describing a feature of the natural environment or serving as evidence of indigenous beliefs. Rather, by “us[ing] all there is to use” (Hymes 2003:36) in the text to foreground and discuss the rhetorical and poetic devices found in this narrative, I present this narrative as one that centers on “sumak kawsay,” or “beautiful life,” which brings into dialogue local moral concerns of indigenous peoples in rural Otavalo, and national political efforts at modernization which appear under the banner of “buen vivir.” Close ethnopoetic analysis of narratives in context is essential to identify the present moral and political concerns as well as hear and represent the various voices embedded in seemingly mundane narratives.