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Indigeneity through the Lens of “Development”: Disputes over Meanings and Spaces

Friday, November 15, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Sir John A. Macdonald Hall
Room: Room 2
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This talk addresses how the rhetoric of ‘development’ influences the creation, representation, experience and use of indigeneity. It demonstrates how the struggle over meanings correlates to the dispute over territories. To explore how development impacts identity formations and its implications over territories and peoples’ lives, I draw on knowledges and experiences of the diasporic Coca indigenous community of Mezcala (Mexico) collected since 2008 as a scholar-activist. This community can be used as a striking example since it is at a juncture of economic, political, social, and cultural changes linked to neoliberal governance, and is confronting the developmentalist political agenda of elites who want to transform the region into a tourist destination. Mezcala can thus shed light on how ‘development’ can be seen to act as an epistemological frame that shapes identity formations and influences glocal processes related to power and space. Indigeneity can respond to national fantasies or capitalist interests associated with ‘development’, but it can also be used strategically against the ‘development’ incursion into territories. In this way, I present an encouraging picture of how indigeneity can be revived and dignified in a sort of ethnogenesis to incite the defense of territory while cultivating new modes of understanding development away from neoliberal governance. 

Inés Duran Matute, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology

Barbra Lalonde
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