Accepted Paper:

'In 2015 we are all indigenous': reflecting on the World Games of Indigenous Peoples (October 2015, Palmas, Brazil)  


Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)
Sarah Silva Telles (Pontifical Catholic University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the World Games of Indigenous Peoples held in Brazil in 2015 through the double lens of indigeneity, with its performative dimension, and Indigenism, modeled on Orientalism, to destabilize the classic indigenous versus non-indigenous binary.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses the first edition of the World Games of Indigenous Peoples, held in Brazil in autumn 2015. It does so through the double lens of indigeneity, especially its performative dimension, as well as Indigenism understood here as a concept modeled on Orientalism to destabilize the classic indigenous versus non-indigenous binary. The World Games offered a unique site to explore first-hand various processes of mutual identity construction, by allowing insights into how Brazilian society and authorities construe the place of Indigenas and, by the same token, the national Self; and how indigenous people responded to such constructions. The visual and social media related material gathered during the event illustrates what has been called the post-traditional dimension of indigeneity, tied in particular to more or less forced rural-urban mobility under the impact of mega-development projects and environmental degradation. In this manner, both within and outside the arena reserved for the competitions and an array of cultural events, the World Games aimed to celebrate indigenous peoples, all the while bringing to the fore some of the misconceptions and conflicts surrounding indigeneity in Brazil. The latter were illustrated by protests against the so-called PEC 215 constitutional amendment, which would fundamentally alter the process of indigenous land demarcations in Brazil. From an allegedly apolitical event destined to celebrate indigenous sports and cultures from across the world, the Games thus turned into a stage for local political mobilisation.

Panel MB-AMS07
Socio-cultural anthropology of sports