Notes on René Zavaleta: 'Abigarramiento' as Condition of Constitutive Power

Notes on René Zavaleta: 'Abigarramiento' as Condition of Constitutive Power

By Anne Freeland

One of the major tasks of the Latin American left, since the early twentieth century but especially over the past couple of decades, has been the negotiation or articulation of a political and intellectual tradition with Marxist roots and one of indigenous resistance. This post looks at the history and afterlife of a key term that has served to bridge this gap in the Bolivian context, René Zavaleta Mercado’s concept of abigarramiento or sociedad abigarrada, “motley society.” My interest in the concept is primarily as an antidote to the much-discussed slippage into a multiculturalism that is typically identified as (neo)liberal and that co-opts and neutralizes plurinational projects founded on a promise of indigenous autonomy but that can also serve a plurinationalism (and to my knowledge this connection has not received the same level of critical analysis) that operates as a discursive strategy of populist legitimation of the state.

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Minorities or Nations? Discourses and Policies of Recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Minorities or Nations? Discourses and Policies of Recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

By Roger Merino Acuña

Translated by Johannes Waldmüller

The definition of Indigenous peoples as either “minorities” or as “nations” has a profound impact on public policies. Indigenous people are seen as ethnic minorities and, despite enjoying special juridical protection, they cannot expect to be treated in a different way, for example as the Right to Previous Consultation suggests.

In summary, the perspectives presented here put forward the idea that if special rights are granted to Indigenous peoples it is to integrate them into Peruvian society -  not to grant them different treatment, which would affect the formal equality that the law grants to every citizen. These discourses stem from understanding Indigenous rights as ethnic minority rights, to ensure their inclusion within the political and economic framework of the state, 'tolerating' their cultural diversity.

The problem with the above comments is the understanding of Indigenous peoples as minorities and not as peoples.

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