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Rivera mural (photo: Joanna Page)

Key Issues and Texts

Seminar 1: Questioning indigeneity (Beatriz Marin-Aguilera)

’Indigeneity’ denotes belonging and originariness, distinguishing natives from others. Yet, there are diverse ways of ‘being indigenous’ in Latin America and, more generally, in the world, making it very difficult to create an international category or understanding of indigeneity. How then do we define ‘indigeneity’? Who is indigenous and who is not? What does it mean to be ‘indigenous’? And why ‘indigenous ontologies’ are getting so much attention in fields as different as anthropology/ archaeology, sociology, law, and geography? In this seminar, we will discuss these questions and their relationship with indigenous revival movements and authenticity issues. We will do so by commenting on some readings and working materials that chart case studies from across the Americas.

Key issues

  • Definition(s) of indigeneity(ies)
  • Indigenous ways of knowing and being and the ‘ontological turn’
  • Indigeneity, revival movements, authenticity, and commoditisation

Key texts

  • Canessa, A. (2012). "Gender, indigeneity, and the performance of authenticity in Latin American tourism." Latin American Perspectives 39(6): 109-115. 
  • Chandler, D. and Reid, J. (2018). “‘Being in being’: Contesting the ontopolitics of indigeneity.” The European Legacy 23(3): 251-268.
  • Faudree, P. (2013). Singing for the Dead: The Politics of Indigenous Revival in Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press. Conclusion: Singing for the dead and the living: revival, indigenous publics, and the national afterlife, pp. 236-250.
  • Forte, M.C. (2013). “‘Who is an Indian?’ The cultural politics of a bad question,” in M.C. Forte (ed.), Who is an Indian? Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 3-51.

Working materials

 

Seminar 2: Mestizaje, whitening, and nation-building (Beatriz Marin-Aguilera)

Change of venue for this seminar: Keyser Workroom, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), Cambridge.

The nineteenth century gave birth to the ‘scientific’ philosophy of race and the development of modern Anthropology, Ethnography and Archaeology, in which perceptions of morality, intelligence, and civilisation were deeply tied up with notions of eugenics. This is precisely the period when Latin American political elites needed to build a modern nation-state after gaining the independence from Spain. While doing so, they were confronted with extreme social hierarchies in the region, legacy of the Spanish colonisation and slavery. How did colonial pigmentocracy entangle with post-independence nation-building? What are the consequences and challenges of mestizaje and colonial slavery in Latin America today? We will examine these questions by reading about different case studies from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, and by analysing archaeological and anthropological objects from Mexico, Peru and Brazil in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Key issues

  • Race and 19th-century science
  • Colonial mestizaje and the politics of mestizaje in Latin America’s nation-building
  • The social hierarchy of whites and post-independence whitening processes
  • From colonial slavery to black movements in Latin America

Key texts

  • Aguirre Gonzalez, M. and Castro Meline, M. (2018). Prejuicio y discriminación racial en Chile. Informe. Talca: Universidad de Talca.
  • Chaves Chamorro, M., and Zambrano Escobar, M. (2006). “From blanqueamiento to reindigenización: paradoxes of mestizaje and multiculturalism in contemporary Colombia”. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 80: 5–23.
  • Curtoni, R.P. and Politis, G.G. (2006). “Race and racism in South American archaeology.” World Archaeology 38(1): 93-108.
  • Hale, L.L. (1997). “Preto velho: resistance, redemption, and engendered representations of slavery in a Brazilian possession-trance religion”. American Ethnologist 24(2): 392-414.
  • N’gom, M. (2011). “Afroperuanos y la institucionalidad cultural oficial: la recuperación de las voces perdidas”. Callaloo 34(2): 499-506.
  • Paschel, T.S. (2016). Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 2: Making mestizajes, pp. 28-46.

 

Seminar 3: Urban indigeneity in Latin America (Dana Brablec Sklenar)

As a reflection of the growing trend of global urbanisation, cities are rapidly becoming the main residential site for indigenous peoples worldwide, representing one of the most important challenges faced by modern indigenous societies. This session considers the various political, economic and social reasons behind migration waves of indigenous peoples from their territories of origin to Latin American cities throughout the twentieth century until the present day. Exemplified by the case of the Mapuche people in Chile and Argentina, we examine the methods of repression and violence used by the state to appropriate indigenous lands for development projects, and the consequences of migration for the rural communities of origin. We will discuss the relationship between indigenous migrants and the urban host society, exploring the concepts of assimilation and ethnogenesis. We examine the different strategies that indigenous peoples have followed for ethnicity re-creation in the city, paying attention to the development of community-based organisations for indigenous cultural resistance as well as the role played by the state in this process. Finally, the session discusses the socio-political impact of indigenous spatial mobility and the multiple forms of intervention and appropriation of urban space.

Key issues

  • Rural-to-urban indigenous migration
  • Assimilation, ethnogenesis and identity re-creation
  • Urban indigenous community-based organisations
  • Indigenous cultural resistance in the city
  • Material and symbolic urban space appropriation and re-signification.

Key texts

  • Clifford, J. (2013). Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press. Chapter 1: Among Histories, pp. 13-49. (e-book)
  • Radcliffe, S. (2017). “Geography and indigeneity I: Indigeneity, coloniality and knowledge.” Progress in Human Geography 41(2): 220–229.
  • Warren, S. (2017). “Indigenous in the city: the politics of urban Mapuche identity in Chile.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 40(4): 694–712.
  • Horn, P. (2018). “Indigenous peoples, the city and inclusive urban development policies in Latin America: Lessons from Bolivia and Ecuador.” Development Policy Review 36(4): 483–501.
  • Hale, C. (2004). “Rethinking indigenous politics in the era of the ‘indio permitido’.” NACLA Report on the Americas 38(2): 16-21.
  • Becerra, S., Merino, M., Webb, A. and Larrañaga, D. (2018). “Recreated practices by Mapuche women that strengthen place identity in new urban spaces of residence in Santiago, Chile.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(7): 1255-1273.

 

Seminar 4: The material culture of indigeneity in colonial Latin America (Beatriz Marin-Aguiera)

How did people express themselves through objects in the colonial Americas? How did those objects reflect different meanings and uses? What were the political, social, cultural, economic and religious implications of their use by indigenous communities? How did they affect and shape colonial and post-colonial identities? This seminar explores such questions by focusing on clothing and their wearers during the colonial period in Mexico and Peru, and by comparing colonial apparel with today’s indigenous dress in Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. Topics will include colonial power and its relationship to the usage of apparel, the choice of hybrid attire by certain indigenous protagonists for social advancement and for subverting colonial power, as well as the association of specific wear with notions of indigeneity in post-independence Latin America and the role of clothing in the negotiation of indigeneity today.

Key issues

  • Clothing as material culture
  • Body politics
  • Indigenous agency
  • Fashion and exoticisation

Key texts

  • Femenías, B. (2005). Gender and the Boundaries of Dress in Contemporary Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press. Chapter 3: Clothing the body: visual domain and cultural process, pp. 103-146.
  • Graubart, K.B. (2007). With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru (1550-1700). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Chapter 4: Dressing like and Indian: Producing ethnicity in urban Peru, pp. 121-157.
  • Helland, J. (1990-1991). “Aztec imagery in Frida Kahlo's paintings: Indigeneity and political commitment.” Woman's Art Journal 11(2): 8-13.
  • Radcliffe, S.A. (1997). “The geographies of indigenous self-representation in Ecuador: Hybridity, gender and resistance.” European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 63: 9–27.
  • Rodríguez-Alegría, E. (2010). “Incumbents and challengers: Indigenous politics and the adoption of Spanish material culture in colonial Xaltocan, Mexico.” Historical Archaeology 44(2): 51–71.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2012). “Indigenous attire, exoticization, and social change: dressing and undressing among the Emberá of Panama.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(3): 591-612.

Bibliography
 

Seminar 5: Shamanism, mimesis and alterity: spaces of transformation and blurred identities in Latin American popular culture (Françoise Barbira-Freedman)​ 

In the first of two lectures on generic social and cultural processes that create the contours of indigeneity in Latin America, the focus is on shamanism as a set of practices that carry a distinctive indigenous label but at the same time have been defined through dialectical relations between Indians and the dominant society since colonial times.  Themes include the relationship between Christianity and Amerindian cosmologies, shamanic knowledge and its use in mediating racial conflicts, shamanism as popular medicine and popular culture in mixed rural and urban populations and the blurred identities of present-day shamans as they claim and/or ‘perform indigeneity’. Materials range from the Colombian rubber boom to Peru’s expanding Ayahuasca shamanism, the emergence of Shuar shamans in Ecuador and the complex gendered identities of Mapuche shamans in Chile. There are two guiding questions: what does shamanism tell us about indigeneity as relational politics in which people ascribed as indigenous are both socially and economically disadvantaged and yet are attributed powers sought by non-indigenous people on local and international scales? How can we explain that what we call shamanism, in its many different forms, continues to re-invent itself as a live counter-hegemonic cultural heritage throughout Latin America?

Key texts

  • Bacigalupo, A.M. (2007). Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing among Chilean Mapuche. Austin: University of Texas Press. Introduction and Chapter 9
  • Barbira Freedman, F. (2014). “Shamans’ Networks in Western Amazonia: the Iquitos-Nauta Road”, in B.C. Labate and N. Clavnar (eds), Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 63-86.
  • Conklin, B.A. (2002). “Shamans versus Pirates in the Amazonian Treasure Chest.” American Anthropologist 104(4): 1050-1061.
  • Salomon, F. (1983). “Shamanism and Politics in Late/Colonial Ecuador.” American Ethnologist, 10(3): 413-428.
  • Taussig, M. (1987). Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. Chicago University Press. Chapter 23.

Bibliography
 

Seminar 6: Growing up 'indigenous' in Amazonia and the Andes in the 21st century: policies of biculturalism, ontologies of difference 
(Franç​oise Barbira-Freedman​)

IIn contrast with the culture of shamanism in which race relations are virtually inverted and redeemed in the Latin American popular imaginary, this second lecture addresses how children grow up ‘indigenous’, looking at how indigeneity is constituted from birth as warranting ‘development’ from outside, while being affirmed implicitly from within communities. While present-day health and education programmes of ‘interculturality’ in Amazonia and the Andes overtly support cultural difference, following a postcolonial trend of ‘indigenismo’, schools and health posts are ambivalent spaces in which parents and children negotiate their indigenous identities in everyday life. Themes include the making of Amerindian personhood as distinctive, the politics of primary education and primary health care and the emergence of indigeneity over ethnicity as an analytical concept to denote ontologies of difference. The guiding questions are: how are tensions between embodied, oral and implicit cultural norms of indigenous socialization and the discourse of indigeneity reconciled? Are there shared features of indigenous personhood in Amazonia and the Andes? What is the relevance of politics of place or territory to the affirmation of indigeneity in the fluid social ‘mestizaje’ of the poor at the grassroots?

Key texts

  • Dean, B. (2014). “Identity and indigenous education in Peruvian Amazonia,” in W. Jacob, S. Cheng and M. Porter (eds), Indigenous Education. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 429-446.
  • Mignone, J., Bartlett, J., O’Neil, J. and Orchard, T. (2007). “Best practices in intercultural health: Five case studies in Latin America.” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3(31).
  • Radcliffe, S.A. (2002). “Indigenous women, rights and the nation-state in the Andes”, in N. Craske and M. Molyneux (eds), Gender and the Politics of Rights and Democracy in Latin America. London: Palgrave, pp. 149-172.
  • Rahman, E. (2016). “Intergenerational mythscapes and infant care in Northwestern Amazonia”, in S. Pooley and K. Qureshi (eds), Parenthood between Generations: Transforming Reproductive Cultures. New York: Berghahn, pp. 181-206.

Bibliography