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Being Indigenous in Latin America

Beatriz Marin-Aguilera

This session explores de idea of ‘indigeneity,’ which is one of the most debated concepts in post-and decolonial, subaltern, sociological, anthropological, archaeological, law, and cultural and geocultural studies. ‘Indigeneity’ denotes belonging and originariness, distinguishing natives from others. Yet, there are numerous 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’? What exactly does it mean to be Indigenous? Do Indigenous people refer to themselves as such? This lecture will discuss these questions by drawing mostly on Indigenous voices from different Latin American countries, complemented by historical and anthropological sources.

Key issues:

  • Being ‘indio’ in Spanish and Portuguese America
  • Indigeneity post-independence
  • The coloniality of Indigenous struggles today

Required readings:

Required materials:

Further readings and films/documentaries:

  • Burkholder, M.A. and Johnson, L.L. 2003. Colonial Latin America. Fifth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Canessa, A. 2012. Intimate Indigeneities: Race, Sex, and History in the Small Spaces of Andean Life. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Grandin, Greg. 2000. The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation. Duke University Press.
  • Joffé, R. 1986. The Mission (film).
  • Kicza, J.E. 1993. The Indian in Latin American History: Resistance, Resilience, and Acculturation. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
  • Langer, E.D. and Muñoz, E. (eds.) 2003. Contemporary Indigenous Movements in Latin America. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
  • Marina Donato, L., Matilde Escobar, E., Escobar, P., Pazmiño, A. and Ulloa, A. (eds.) (2007). Mujeres Indígenas, Territorialidad y Biodiversidad en el Contexto Latinoamericano. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
  • Poole, Deborah (2016). Mestizaje as ethical disposition: indigenous rights in the neoliberal state. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 11(3): 287-304.
  • Serulnikov, Sergio. 2003. Subverting Colonial Authority: Challenges to Spanish Rule in the Eighteenth-Century Southern Andes. Duke University Press.
  • Warren, J.W. 2001. Racial Revolutions: Antiracism and Indian Resurgence in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Universidad Nacional de la Pampa, 2019: “Pueblos indígenas, miradas y debates actuales” (5 episodes)
  • Urban, G. and Sherzer, J. (eds.) (1992). Nation-States and Indians in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Vilaça, A. (2010) Strange Enemies: Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in Amazonia. London: Duke University Press.
  • Viveiros de Castro, E. (2015). The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wade, Peter (2009). Race and Sex in Latin America. London and New York: Pluto Press.
  • Warren, K.B. (1992). Transforming memories and histories: The meanings of ethnic resurgence for Mayan Indians. In A. Stephan (ed.), Americas. New Interpretative Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 189-219.
  • Postero, N.G. and Zamosc, L. (eds.) 2004. The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America. Brighton and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Zapata Silva, C. (comp.) (2007). Intelectuales Indígenas Piensan América Latina. Quito: Ediciones Abya-Yala.