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Accepted Paper:

Beyond instrumentalism: a decolonial option to explore indigeneity as lived experience  
Maria Fernanda Esteban Palma (British Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Contemporary urban indigenous groups are frequently framed as instrumentalist, accused of inauthenticity and compared against universal models of indigeneity. A sensorial anthropology can provide a richer understanding of the experience of becoming indigenous if its methodologies are decolonized.

Paper long abstract:

Research involving indigenous people has changed alongside shifts in anthropological theory, enabling academics to partially redeem the field from its colonial origins. But regardless of how aware current social theory is of indigenous fluidity, anthropology remains epistemologically and methodologically invariable; hoping to stay objective, generalizable and, therefore, scientific. Ethnography continues to be mostly observational, undervaluing touch, smell, or intuition. Participants continue to be asked about what they see or hear instead of how they feel, while incorporating the researcher's affective and sensorial experiences as data is considered comparativism. Phenomenology and affect-based methodologies could provide an option to de-westernize fieldwork in indigenous anthropology, but as these approaches continue to be bounded to western scientific paradigms, their scope is limited and highly criticised. In this paper I argue that a sensorial, affect-based and subject-based ethnography is possible if indigenous anthropology becomes decolonial, unbounding research methods from western academic trajectories. Moreover, I applied decolonial thinking to explore contemporary urban indigenous formations in Bogota, Colombia. These urban groups have been accused of inauthenticity, not only by the states but also by academics and other indigenous groups. A decolonial methodology allows me to move beyond observation and interviewing to explore how members experience, appropriate and respond to their own indigenization after two hundred years of mestizaje. Additionally, it allows me to reflexively and critically incorporate my experience as a "thinker of the border", a mestiza anthropologist from Bogota who identifies with the struggle of marginalization in Latin American urban areas.

Panel P114
Epistemological violence & knowledges otherwise: reflexive anthropology and the future of knowledge production
  Session 1