Chiefs, presidents, shamans and priests: rethinking indigenous forms of leadership, authority, and political action in 21st century lowland South America 
Christopher Hewlett (University of Sussex)
Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti (University of Sussex)
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Survival and Extinction
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Friday 9 August, 9:00-10:00, 14:30-15:30 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the innovative articulations and redefinitions of power relations pertaining to changing notions of leadership and authority in the context of indigenous people's increasing engagement with extractive industries, governments and NGOs in Lowland South America.

Long Abstract

It is clear that political forms of leadership in Lowland South America have long been over-generalized and are more diverse than ever imagined. In relating to the contemporary socio-political context, new forms of leadership and representation have developed, resulting in innovative articulations of power that challenge previous understandings of authority for the area.

This panel examines how different indigenous people are engaging with these articulations based on a series of questions concerning power and legitimacy in the realms of political representation, socio-political leadership, and everyday political activities. Does an emphasis on "traditional" leadership and "new" forms of representation diminish understandings of indigenous agency and historicity? How is the legal authority granted to indigenous leaders by governmental and non-governmental bodies negotiated with local understandings of power? Do new leadership institutions open up spaces for leaders with coercive authority? Are analytical emphases on political institutions leading to misrecognition regarding forms of everyday power and political action? How do new knowledge practices and inter-generational notions of leadership create grounds for competing and/or coexisting forms of leadership? How can extensive debates surrounding leadership, authority, and notions of power in the region be made relevant to the current changes in political organization and leadership institutions?

Taking these questions as a departure point, this panel invites papers that explore, from a variety of perspectives, how the politics and productive practices within local groups differ from and/or articulate with practices of political power relating to the state, NGOs, extractive industries, indigenous organizations, and everyday political activities.

Accepted papers: