Isabel Oyuela-Bonzani


Exploitive by Design: Warning Signs from the Northwest Amazon

Advised by Susan Snyder and George Thomas

I am studying the impact of imported capital and culture in the 19th and early-20th centuries’ “Rubber Boom” and today’s tourism industry in Iquitos, Peru, which reveal design’s complicity in perpetuating, and contributing to, dire cultural and ecological consequences on the Amazon. Due to structural similarities shared by these industries and cultural path-dependency of the region, a series of parallel “warning signs” of exploitation concerning territorial practices, unsustainable short-term urbanism, and the importation of place through opulent architectural imaginations emerged. In identifying such warnings and excavating their histories, powerful insights can be made into the potentials of how architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation strategies might be used to shift away from exploitive cycles toward alternative directions, not only for Iquitos and the broader Amazonian region but also for other marginalized contexts globally.

A yellow map of historical and artistic monument locations in Iquitos, Peru, overlays a black-and-white photograph of lines of many indigenous people and a few settlers. An aerial photo o the city supplies background in the upper right.
Labels include: Zona Monumental de la Ciudad de Iquitos,and Rio Amazonas