Accepted Paper:

"Cultural Work," Urban Indigenous Territorialities and Digital Technologies in Buenos Aires city.  


Ana Vivaldi (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

I explore how digital communication coordination of "cultural work" produced by urban indigenous living in the city of Buenos Aires reshapes indigenous territorialities, by overflowing the limits of urban indigeneity, contesting marginality and reshaping the city space.

Paper long abstract:

Following the call to consider the way the indigenous city triggers new practices and reconfigures urban spaces, in this paper, I trace how Toba Indigenous People living in a marginal neighbourhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires incorporate mobile technologies to organize "cultural work" (selling of handicrafts, and conducting workshops in schools and markets). In a context of urban poverty and marginality, this activity is not only significant in economic and cultural terms. I argue that cultural work extends indigenous territorialities, challenges marginality and transforms Buenos Aires' city space. While cultural work is a needed income-generating practice, which commodifies Tobas' knowledges; and recreates identity in an urban diaspora, cultural work also creates a new space for a life in the city. First, Cultural work coordinated through mobile technologies constitutes assemblages of people, knowledges, and resources that link rural villages, in the Chaco region with Buenos Aires city, and overflows the rural/urban divides of indigenous experience. Second, Tobas visits to schools and markets in the city centre create new forms of everyday circulation through the city centre that counteracts the marginality of the indigenous neighbourhood in Buenos Aires' periphery. Finally, Cultural work challenges the imagination of Buenos Aires as a white and European city while it subtly indigenizes the urban space. Mobile phone coordination of this activity, in sum, creates assemblages that extend indigenous territorialities and reshapes an indigenous city.

Panel P051
The indigenous city: ecologies, imaginations and the urban space in Latin America