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Indigenous Media and Political Resistance in Latin America (Image credit - Tejiendo Nuestras Raices, Axhel Koheler ( RACCACH/IWGIA Mexico, 2010)

Indigenous Media and Political Resistance in Latin America

Paper abstracts

R. Aída Hernández Castillo
Indigenous Theorizations and Media Resistance

In this paper I would like to contextualize the new emergence of Indigenous Media as a part of a decolonial move that is taking place in Latin America, with the academic production of indigenous scholars and the theorizations from indigenous activists about the right to self-representation. These new voices are barely heard in the academic world of the global “North,” in part because they represent a challenge to the colonial legacy of our disciplines. The use of traditional and new communication technology by indigenous organizations and scholars is opening new forums for these voices to be heard. I will reflect on their impact in the political struggles of indigenous peoples, but also in the new methodological challenges that anthropology as a discipline confronts from its dialogues with these political actors.

R. Aída Hernández Castillo currently holds the Simón Bolivar Chair in the Centre of Latin American Studies, Cambridge. She has published as a result of her activist research with indigenous people twenty two books in English and Spanish and explored the use of the media working as a journalist for a Central American press agency. During eight years she conducted the feminist radio program “Voces de Mujer” and collaborated on several documentary films about indigenous women´s struggle for justice.


Genner Llanes-Ortiz (CIESAS-Mexico)
Digital Maya: Resisting the silencing of Indigenous Voices in Yucatan

Maya activists in the Yucatan peninsula have keenly adopted new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote their language, their forms of knowledge and, crucially, their criticisms of Mayan culture’s commoditization for tourists’ consumption. A great example of this was the organization in 2013 of the First Independent Mayan Festival Cha’ anil Kaaj which will be the focus of this talk.

Genner Llanes-Ortiz is a Maya anthropologist who completed his doctorate at the University of Sussex and is now a postdoctoral researcher at CIESAS-Mexico. He is interested in ethno-political movements, and subaltern epistemologies in the Yucatan, Belize and Guatemala. Exploring renewed performances of indigeneity, his current project interrogates the ways in which performance and aesthetics contribute to the linguistic and cultural revitalization in the Maya region. Genner has coined the term 'CosMAYApolitanism' to characterize the contemporary politics and aesthetics of the Pan-Maya movement across international borders. One of his essays and three short ethnographic documentaries will soon be published in Diana Taylor’s edited volume Resistant Strategies.


Pamela Leiva Jacquelín (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, IWGIA)
Collaborative Video Production and Indigenous Movements in Latin America

A collaborative approach to the production of videos is allowing the urgent needs and social and cultural agenda of indigenous peoples to be represented, thus becoming a tool for empowerment. Videos conceived through this perspective provide the space for intercultural dialogues between indigenous people's organizations and communities and researchers. The new uses of technology and social media platforms give indigenous peoples around the globe the chance to share and exchange experiences, positive and negative, and build a bridge where regional and transnational solidarity struggles to be strengthened in traditional ways. The huge change of the camera's angle is itself a call for recognition. Indigenous peoples have their own story to tell. It is a common story of violation of their rights and struggle for self-determination, political participation and defence of their ancestral territories. The social conflict shown in Amazonia for Sale is one case of violation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) among many others in the region. Its production resulted from a collaborative process of discussion and analysis between indigenous representatives, legal consultants and IWGIA’s team to outline how to present and communicate the conflictive situation and finally edit the footage.

Pamela Leiva Jacquelín is an Argentinean immigrant to Denmark. She has a joint degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and has participated in an exchange program with the University of Southern Denmark, where she has specialized in Organizational Communication. She is part of the Communication Programme at International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) working closely with publications and news for the Latin American Section. IWGIA is an international human rights organization based in Copenhagen and founded as a documentation house by anthropologists reacting to the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples in the Amazon in 1968. More than forty years later its network has expanded considerably and worldwide, continuing carrying on a Publications and International Advocacy.  The use of videos is part of IWGIA’s strategy to promote the recognition and the respect of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples.


Documentary Film: Amazonia for Sale

Amazonia for Sale was shot in November 2009 and produced by the Organization for Development of the Border Communities of El Cenepa River (ODECOFROC) with the support of IWGIA and ORE Media. It documents the Awajún people's struggle to protect their ancestral territory in the Condor Mountain Range (on the border with Ecuador) from the Peruvian government's concessions to mining industries. After 55 days of strike action, the State evicted the area by the use of public force, finishing in the so-called events of Bagua.