Andrés Marroquín (right) accompanied by a wayuu artisan

Andrés Marroquín Gramajo, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Economic Sciences School of the Francisco Marroquín University, in 2000, defended his doctoral thesis titled The Use of Culture and the Arts to Promote Rural Development: The Cases of Three Colombian Communities, last July 5th 2006, at George Mason University.

“My theme is not common for an economics department; it deals on rural development in two indigenous communities and one non indigenous community in Colombia:  the Wayuu Indians from Guajira, the Ticuna Indians in the Amazon and the Chamba community in the department of Tolima”, explained Marroquín.

“The thesis consists of three case studies:  the first one evaluates how the traditional legal structure of the Wayuu Indians affects negatively the trust and social capital development; the second one evaluates the economic-social behavior of the Ticuna Indians and its effect on the success of development programs; and the third one historically examines the technological change in the ceramist community of La Chamba”, he added.

“The thesis was based on eight months of fieldwork where I was a participant-observer from July 2005 to February 2006, and then the bibliographic research at the Social Sciences Library in Toronto University”, said Marroquín.

“Perhaps the most important conclusion is the curious existence, among the Ticuna Indians of the Amazons, of two different attitudes in a social context that would be, in other terms, relatively homogeneous:  the community leaders and professors act trying to accumulate, (maximize) material wealth; and, on the other hand, the rest of the population acts trying to cover only their basic needs, following the postulate called satisficing, proposed by the economist and psychologist Herbert Simon”, explained the author.

“This dichotomy reflects the classical debate between sustantivists and formalists in the anthropologic economic field.  My contribution in this aspect is:  to show that both attitudes can coexist and explain the result of development programs and to locate this situation in a conceptual frame that Herbert Simon suggests.  Fundamentally mi work in the Amanzon questions the postulates of the neoclassic economy and suggests that the cultural context, usually ignored by economists, is important to understand the individual behavior and the development process”, he concluded.

Doctor Tyler Cowen was his thesis advisor; and two members of the committee were Ph.D. Carrie Meyer and Ph.D. Michele Greet.

Andrés Marroquín was the first graduate of the Programa de Impulso al Talento Académico (ITA), at the UFM.