SE28


Self-conscious indigeneity in Latin America 
Convenors:
Sergio Huarcaya (Royal Holloway University of London)
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Track:
Survival and Extinction
Location:
University Place 3.209
Sessions:
Thursday 8 August, 9:00-10:00 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the ways in which the self-conscious performance of indigenous culture has made visible the political horizon of indigeneity, not only enabling the articulation of indigenous political demands but also transforming local configurations of self and other.

Long Abstract

When does the performance of indigenous culture become self-conscious? The explicit performance of indigenous culture accompanying contemporary indigenous political mobilization not only has strengthened indigenous cultural identities but also has changed the dialogic construction of identities and alterities.

Considering that not all populations that could have articulated political claims around indigeneity have done so, this panel explores the ways in which the self-conscious performance of indigenous culture has made visible the political horizon of indigeneity, not only enabling the articulation of indigenous political demands but also transforming local configurations of self and other.

Explaining the emergence of indigenous political movements in Latin America, some analysts have attributed to indigenous culture a teleological impulse implying, as Colloredo-Mansfeld critically points out, that "indigenous destiny is at work." Others analysts have considered indigenous performance as a return to moral and worldview origins. But what the self-conscious performance of indigenous culture has done to local notions of indigeneity? How it has transformed the interethnic negotiation of status? Rather than being a reflection of indigenous historical consciousness, the performance of indigenous culture has been the practical means to producing it.

In addition, what globalization has to do with it? In times of trans-nationalism and globalization, in which traditional collective points of reference come into tension with a multiplicity of de-territorialized cultural experiences, becoming a self-conscious practitioner of indigenous culture is a way of participating in the global system?

Accepted papers:

Author:

Emmanuelle Piccoli (Université catholique de Louvain)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will emphasise the emergence and (re)building of indigenous identities when coping with conflicts related to natural resources’ exploitation in Peru. It will especially focus on the case of the conflict surrounding the Conga mining project in Cajamarca.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will emphasise the emergence and (re)building of indigenous identities when coping with conflicts related to natural resources exploitation in Peru. Arguments based on ethnic identity seem to be reinforced by conflicts with extractive companies as well as by international laws protecting indigenous populations and their land use (particularly the Convention No 169 of the International Labour Organisation). The relationships between local and global stakeholders (NGOs, Human Rights organisations, etc.) contribute to a new politicisation of cultural identities and lead to the emergence of an "alternative scene" where indigenous groups can express their rights and citizenship claims.

We especially focus on the case of the conflict surrounding the Conga mining project in Cajamarca, a region where few people traditionally recognise themselves as indigenous. The outbreak of the conflict in October 2011 showed the difficulty for the population who opposes against the development of the gold mining megaproject Conga to be heard in a crucial topic for the government policy. The ethnic argument is present in the opposition as a strategy (to attempt using indigenous rights), but also as an assertion to a specific lifestyle and another model of development that crystallises his claims around the defense of water (much needed resource to the mine and peasant life).

Authors:

Céline Tschirhart (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Jayalaxshmi Mistry
Andrea Berardi (The Open University)
Geraud de Ville de Goyet (Open University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on our research with indigenous communities of Guyana and Brazil, this paper explores how Participatory Hypermedia can be considered as a performance for indigenous communities in Latin America, as they appropriate these tools to perform a message that reveals a sharp consciousness of co-existence with a global world.

Paper long abstract:

Performance is almost always associated with theatre, dancing, singing, playing music. It is an act of presenting a form of entertainment to a public, involving art, creation, putting yourself on stage. Thus, indigenous performance is often studied through dance, music, theatre, and in what ways it reinforces cultural identity, self-determination, and visibility in the national and global world. However, over recent years, indigenous media have also played an important role in 'performance'. Hypermedia, i.e. web-based platforms for blending video, audio and text based representations are, in particular, becoming increasingly powerful tools for delivering indigenous performances to a worldwide audience.

In the COBRA project (http://projectcobra.org/), communities of Brazil and Guyana are using video and photo to identify indicators of sustainability. If we believe that communities provide an objective representation of their situation then we would not be talking of performance. If local communities see Hypermedia as a tool to promote their own particular interests, from local to global scales, through careful choreographing of their representations, then we can justifiably talk about 'performance'. In what ways does leading Participatory Hypermedia project like ours empower, expose and affect local self-consciousness? In this paper, we will discuss how communities are constructing, communicating and performing a message with a purpose in mind that is very close to the ideals of a performance. We think indigenous communities, through the way they use these tools, reveal they have a clear conscience of their identity and how to shape it to serve their purposes.

Author:

Francesco Zanotelli (University of Messina)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines comparatively ethno-political processes of localities in Jalisco (Western Mexico): in some places the ethnicity being revitalized and used publicly, in others being hidden and reserved to intimate rituals.

Paper long abstract:

The ethnic identity in Mexico has been historically defined by anthropologists and national institution regarding at the cultural manifestations of specific indigenous groups, taking native language, civil-religious cargo systems and coherent cosmology as elements of distinction from the rest of the national population. In the last forty years the self-identification through political claims in terms of multiculturalism and/or autonomy has become the main way to repositioning the role of indigenous groups, while they are claiming for the right of an ethnic citizenship and a full inclusion based on collective diversity.

Based on ethnographic data collected in different localities of the state of Jalisco (Western Mexico), the paper examines the linkage and mutual effects that ritual performances, i.e. especially specific monetary exchanges between villagers during religious festivals, serves to construct differentiated identity in a region in which the historical process of cultural homogenization and the progressive globalization through migration, seem to have borrowed all distinctions.

In some of these localities, the recent resurgent of ethnic identity and self-classification in terms of indigeneity, is also strategic to perform ecological struggles. The paper examines comparatively these ethno-political processes confronting the different outcomes they produced: in some places the ethnicity being revitalized and used publicly, in others being hidden and reserved to intimate rituals. The ethnographic regional comparison will drive to theoretical questions about the hypothetical function/continuity/shift that cultural performances can have in the process of rebirth of indigeneity, in places of Mexico often depicted as culturally mestizo.