Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 38: Gender, Poverty, and National Identity in Afrodescendent and Indigenous Movements
in Latin America Helen I. Safa The emergence of indigenous and afrodescendent movements in Latin America is challenging the framework for national identity. They are questioning the way in which Latin American countries used mestizaje and blanqueamiento (racial and cultural ‘mixing’ and ‘whitening’ respectively) to forge a unified national image (Safa, 2005). The indigenous primarily demand special collective land rights to preserve ethnic identity, while afrodescendents emphasise redistributive rights to redress past injustices like slavery and continual racial discrimination. The emphasis placed on either identity or redistribution depends largely on the way afrodescendent and indigenous groups were incorporated into their respective nation states. Indigenous groups in Latin America have always stressed ethnic identity as a way of safeguarding their territorial rights to land. Their rights stem largely from their special juridical status in resguardos (reservations) in colonial times, which contributed to the development of an ‘institutionalised identity’ and ability to maintain their own language and traditions (Wade, 1997). By contrast, most afrodescendents were brought in as slaves, denied their right to land and language, and subordinated through blanqueamiento to European norms. Some slaves escaped to establish their own remote ‘maroon’ communities, and did maintain a distinct identity and economy. The Garifuna of Central America claim never to have been enslaved, and maintain both indigenous and afrodescendent traditions resulting from the union of African men with Arawak/Carib women in Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. Former West Indian slaves were brought by the British or the United States (US) into Central America...
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