Scholars have previously presumed a Marxist lens to analyzing the Andean pishtaco, a bogeyman figure known for extracting vitality, thus interpreting it as an Indigenous folkloric phenomenon and critique of Western exploitation. However, many of these ethnographic accounts inadvertently constitute pishtacoism in the way they extract Indigenous knowledge and circulate it through anthropological literature as a fetishized commodity. To address these pitfalls, this study outlines a scholarly genealogy of the pishtaco phenomenon and proposes the Latin American extractivismo discourse as the most comprehensive framework to historicize the pishtaco’s migration from the Andes to the Peruvian Amazon. This framework helps elucidate the inherently biopolitical dimensions of pishtacoism that are mobilized through racist statecraft, extractive scholarship, alterity narratives, and infrastructural development projects. Centered on Shipibo-Konibo perspectives and petroleum exploration in the Ucayali Region, my findings reframe the term pishtaco to encompass various subtypes of extractive beings in Amazonian contexts. Most ontological theories cannot adequately analyze the shape-shifting pishtaco because the distinct ontological worlds of Indigenous Amazonians are themselves forged out of contingent political-economic formations. In this way, reevaluating the pishtaco figure as a vibrant social text constitutes an Indigenous ethnological concept, enacts resistance against ever-encroaching settler domination, and reminds social scientists of the urgency to invest in radically decolonial and reciprocal research methods.



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