Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Title:  Indigenous Resurgence in “a world backwards”: Of Relations, Mining and Raw Economy/Raw Law in the Context of Colombia’s Armed Conflict

Date: November 14, 2019
Venue: Jeffery Hall, Room 128
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Speaker:  Viviane Weitzner

This talk traces the evolution and practice of a decade of activist research supporting Indigenous and Afro-Descendant peoples in the context of Colombia’s internal armed conflict. Emphasizing the importance of building relations and engaging in critical self-reflection, I describe an unlikely alliance between Indigenous and Afro-Descendant peoples towards territorial defense in the face of both legal and outlawed armed actors interested in extracting the gold riches from their ancestral territories. I discuss both autonomous and ‘inter-ethnic’ strategies for survival and self-determination, and hone-in on the experience of the Embera Chamí Indigenous People of the Resguardo Indígena Cañamom Lomaprieta (Caldas) to examine the contested sovereignties and legalities of diverse actors vying to access and regulate the Embera Chami’s ancestral gold.

Grounding my analysis in long-term, fine-grained ethnography of key moments in exercising Indigenous law, governance—and ultimately, resurgence—I tease out implications for the theory and practice of legal pluralities; and for collaborative ethnography and research. Specifically, I argue the need for a sharper theoretical
lens that makes visible and takes as a starting point the violent realities that shape day-to-day life for Indigenous peoples in Colombia, without losing analytical purchase on their extraordinary efforts towards Indigenous resurgence in this lethal context.


“Our exercise of self-government, a contribution to peace”

“Our exercise of self-government, a contribution to peace”

Viviane Weitzner

Dr. Viviane Weitzner is a SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Researcher at McGill University’s Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA), Department of Anthropology, specializing in the anthropology of legal pluralities in the Americas.

Dr. Weitzner's dissertation entitled "Raw Economy/Raw Law: Ancestral Peoples, Mining, Law and Violence in Columbia" was completed at Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology, CIESAS-CDMX), Mexico City.