The Place and Places of Indigenous Peoples in Latin American Societies: New Challenges, New Possibilities

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


What Charles Hale called “the permitted Indian” of neoliberal multiculturalism received the right to conserve a distinct language and culture, but not to pursue demands for self-determination that would involve exclusive rights over territory and resources. It is therefore unfortunate that many indigenous people live in areas that are rich in the kinds of resources that are central to the neo-extractivist economy that Latin American governments of a variety of ideological complexions see as crucial to national development, as well as in areas of high biodiversity that are targeted for conservation by national states and the international development apparatus. Their situation is sometimes doubly contradictory when the same territorial areas upon which conservation regimes are imposed are also of interest to oil and mining interests. Although indigenous groups sometimes succeed in defeating the more civilised kinds of “anti-politics machines” established to manage their environments, the recent history of struggles against hydroelectric projects and environmentally devastating oil, gas and mining operations has been characterised by an escalating deployment of violence against them by states and paramilitary forces. This lecture provides examples of the complex politics that generally underlies the local contentious politics of indigenous efforts to assert self-determination over resources located within rural territories that constitute “places” for their indigenous inhabitants but are seldom treated as anything other than “spaces” from which resources are to be extracted by outsiders, taking into account the further complications of situations in which indigenous communities share space with non-indigenous peoples in multi-ethnic regions, and the fact that indigenous communities themselves have their own internal politics that are also often entangled in their relationships with external actors. l also emphasise the need to recognise that the future place of indigenous peoples in Latin American societies is not simply a matter of the future of rural territories or reserves, but a broader issue that is increasingly about indigenous people who live in towns and cities. Although urban people of indigenous origin may see themselves as “different” from rural indigenous people in their everyday social lives, the current phase of capitalist development has also changed the significance of political claims focused on “indigeneity” in important ways that transcend the politics of special rights for people who continue to self-identify as indigenous.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2014
EventPlace in the Global South - University of Copenhagen
Duration: 8 May 20149 May 2014


ConferencePlace in the Global South
CityUniversity of Copenhagen


Dive into the research topics of 'The Place and Places of Indigenous Peoples in Latin American Societies: New Challenges, New Possibilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this