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Rivera mural (photo: Joanna Page)

Key Issues and Texts

Seminar 1: Being ‘Indio’ in Spanish and Portuguese America (Beatriz Marín-Aguilera)

This session provides an introduction to ‘being indigenous’ in colonial Latin America. It will examine the specificities of how indigeneity has been imagined and shaped by Europeans and Indigenous communities alike throughout the colonial period. It will also explore colonial violence and indigenous resistance to colonialism and rebellion emphasising Indigenous sources, as well as the impact of Christianity, mestizaje and race on colonial body politics. The last 30 minutes of the seminar will delve into a discussion on the use of material culture to voice Indigenous communities in colonial Latin America.

Key issues

  • ‘Indios/as’ in colonial Spanish and Portuguese America
  • Indigenous resistance and rebellions
  • Colonial mestizaje, sexuality, and body politics

Required texts

Discussion: Indigenous Agency through Material Culture

Please choose one indigenous colonial object from a museum collection and familiarise yourself with it.

What is it? Who made it? How was it made? Who used it? When was this type of object firstly produced? Is the object still in use today? What type of information can we get from analysing the object, e.g. resistance, creativity, hybridity? What does it tell us about Indigenous agency? Please, be ready to talk about it for a couple of minutes so we can compare and contrast different objects and their importance to study Indigeneity in Latin America.

Bibliography
 

Seminar 2: Race, nation-building, and the politics of dispossession (Beatriz Marín-Aguilera)

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 race. 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 established social hierarchies in the region, legacy of the Spanish colonisation and slavery. How did notions of race entangle with post-independence nation-building? What were the consequences of that for Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous communities in Latin America? What are the different modes of dispossession faced by Indigenous people today? This seminar will examine these questions by drawing on case studies from the independence period till today in different regions of Latin America. The last 45 minutes of the seminar will serve as a three-group discussion on three modes of indigenous dispossession: land restitution, repatriation of cultural heritage, and biopiracy.

Key issues

  • Race, mestizaje, and modern science
  • Latin America’s 19th-century nation-building
  • Contemporary Indigenous dispossession

Required texts

  • Jofré, I.C. (2014). The mark of the Indian still inhabits our body. On ethics and disciplining in South American archaeology. In A. Haber and N. Shepherd (eds.), After Ethics: Ancestral Voices and Post-disciplinary Worlds in Archaeology. New York: Springer, pp. 55-78.
  • Earle, R. (2002). 'Padres de la Patria’ and the Ancestral Past: Commemorations of Independence in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America. Journal of Latin American Studies 34(4): 775-805.
  • Helland, J. (1990-1991). Aztec imagery in Frida Kahlo's paintings: Indigeneity and political commitment. Woman's Art Journal 11(2): 8-13.
  • May Castillo, M. (2017). Desacralizing Land(scapes). Maya Heritage in the Global Picture. In M. May Castillo and A. Strecker (eds.), Heritage and Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Leiden: Leiden University Press, pp. 333-354.
  • Postero, N.G. and Zamosc, L. (eds.) 2004. The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America. Brighton and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press. Chapter 1, pp. 1-31.

Required materials

Bibliography

 

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 several 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.

Required texts

  • Clifford, J. (2013). Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press. Chapter 1: Among Histories, pp. 13–49 (e-book).
  • Fine-Dare, K. (2019). Urban Mountain Beings: History, Indigeneity, and Geographies of Time in Quito, Ecuador. Lexington Books. Chapter 2: The “Urban Question”, pp. 4778.
  • Hale, C. (2004). Rethinking Indigenous Politics in the Era of the “Indio Permitido”, NACLA Report on the Americas 38(2): 16–21.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

Seminar 4: Indigenous peoples and the state in contemporary Latin America (Dana Brablec Sklenar)

This session explores contemporary forms of interaction articulated between Indigenous peoples and Latin America states, and how this relationship impacts indigeneity. The fluctuating relationship between states and Indigenous peoples in Latin America considerably mirrors the re-emergence of Indigenous issues in national and international debates since the 1980s. Long dismissed as relics of the past, Indigenous peoples are increasingly seeking recognition of their rights to land, water, fundamental human freedoms, and autonomy – an elusive term in the relationships between Indigenous peoples and Latin American states. However, constitutional reforms and international treaties have offered little protection to Indigenous peoples, whose development has been threatened by neoliberal multicultural socio-economic and political structures. Taking a socio-political approach while looking at a variety of cases, this session examines topics such as neoliberal multiculturalism; management of natural resources; strategic essentialism; indios permitidos and ethno-bureaucrats; national and international Indigenous legal frameworks; and the ‘decolonial turn’.

Key issues

  • Neoliberal multiculturalism
  • The indigenous struggle for rights and autonomy
  • Indigenous peoples, bureaucracy, and the state
  • Constitutional reforms and the international framework for Indigenous peoples.

Required texts

  • Canessa, A. (2014). Conflict, claim and contradiction in the new ‘indigenous’ state of Bolivia. Critique of Anthropology 34(2): 153–173.
  • Gardner J.A., and Richards P. (2019). Indigenous Rights and Neoliberalism in Latin America. In: Ratuva S. (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.
  • Hale, C. (2005). Neoliberal Multiculturalism. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 28(1): 10-28.
  • Haughney, D. (2007). Neoliberal Policies, Logging Companies, and Mapuche Struggle for Autonomy in Chile. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 2(2): 141-160.
  • Radcliffe, S. and Webb, A. (2015). Subaltern Bureaucrats and Postcolonial Rule: Indigenous Professional Registers of Engagement with the Chilean State. Comparative Studies in Society and History 57(1): 248–273.

 

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?

Required texts:

  • Taussig, M. (1987). Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. Chicago University Press. Chapters 6 to 12 and 23 to 25.
  • Gow, P. (1994). ‘River People: Shamanism and History in Western Amazonia’. In C. Humphrey and N. Thomas (eds), Shamanism, History and the State. University of Michigan Press.
  • 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 University Press, pp. 63-86.
  • Bacigalupo, A.M. (2007). Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing among Chilean Mapuche. University of Texas Press. Introduction and Chapters 2, 3 and 9.
  • Bacigapulo, A.M. (2016). Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia. University of Texas Press.
  • Conklin B. (2002). ‘Shamans versus Pirates in the Amazonian Treasure Chest’. American Anthropologist 104(4) 1050-1061.

Bibliography
 

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

In contrast with the culture of shamanism in which race relations are virtually inverted and redeemed in the Latin American popular imaginary, this second seminar addresses how children grow up ‘indigenous’.  The seminar explores the ways in which indigeneity is constituted with ambivalence from the registration of births in hospitals as a basis for ID and state aid, while being affirmed within communities through an ethos of ‘nurture’.  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 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 childhood in Latin American countries? 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?

Required texts:

  • De la Cadena, M. (2010) ‘Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes. Conceptual Reflections beyond “Politics”. Cultural Anthropology 25(2): 334-370.
  • McCallum, C. (2001). Gender and Sociality in Amazonia: How Real People are Made. Oxford: Berg.  Chapters 1, 2, 3.
  • Barbira Freedman, F.  (2016). ‘Amazonian couvade: soul nurturing fathers’.  Seminar paper, Oxford Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group, Ms.
  • Gonçalves Martin, J. (2015). ‘Reproductive Health Care and Indigenous Peoples in Venezuela’ in S. Guideon update to (2014) Gender, Globalisation and Health in a Latin American Context, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Leinaweaver, J. (2008). The Circulation of Children: Kinship, Adoption and Morality in Andean Peru. Duke University Press. Chapters 1, 5 and 6.

Bibliography