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The Neo-Indians

The Neo-Indians: A Religion for the Third Millenium

Jacques Galinier
Antoinette Molinié
TRANSLATED BY Lucy Lyall Grant
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    The Neo-Indians
    Book Description:

    The Neo-Indiansis a rich ethnographic study of the emergence of the neo-Indian movement-a new form of Indian identity based on largely reinvented pre-colonial cultures and comprising a diverse group of people attempting to re-create purified pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and ritual practices without the contaminating influences of modern society.There is no full-time neo-Indian. Both indigenous and non-indigenous practitioners assume Indian identities only when deemed spiritually significant. In their daily lives, they are average members of modern society, dressing in Western clothing, working at middle-class jobs, and retaining their traditional religious identities. As a result of this part-time status the neo-Indians are often overlooked as a subject of study, making this book the first anthropological analysis of the movement.

    Galinier and Molinié present and analyze four decades of ethnographic research focusing on Mexico and Peru, the two major areas of the movement's genesis. They examine the use of public space, describe the neo-Indian ceremonies, provide analysis of the ceremonies' symbolism, and explore the close relationship between the neo-Indian religion and tourism.The Neo-Indianswill be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, and scholars of Latin American history, religion, and cultural studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-274-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    It was unheard of—over a million people were taking part! On March 21, 1996, a huge and colorful crowd descended on Teotihuacan, a hub of international tourism. Well before noon, the Pyramid of the Sun (separated from the Pyramid of the Moon by the Avenue of the Dead) was swarming with people undaunted by the heat and the heaving masses.¹ It was a mixture of all sorts of people—men, women and “even homosexuals.”² There were various troupes of dancers from Mexico State and elsewhere, groups described as “esoteric” and “Gnostic” as well as Hare Krishnas, Indian gurus, Tibetan...

  5. 1 The Birth of the International Neo-Indian Movement
    (pp. 15-28)

    The celebrations for the Fifth Centenary of what in Mexico was tactfully called the “Meeting of Two Worlds” (so as to remain within a politically correct framework) led to heated debates and controversy both sides of the Atlantic. The event served as a catalyst for trends we had sensed taking root in both Mexico and Peru. Paradoxically, the question of the Conquest caused a greater stir with colonizers’ descendants in Europe and America than it did with the Indians themselves. In fact, this only appears to be a paradox. In truth, apart from the still-minority fringe of leaders versed in...

  6. 2 Ritual Awakenings
    (pp. 29-76)

    Neo-Indians give free rein to their creativity during their celebrations—there are the feathered dancers on Mexico City’s Zócalo, mystic pilgrims in Teotihuacan, high priests invoking the Sun God in Sacsayhuaman and recently initiated shamans sacrificing llamas at the University of Cuzco . . . Neo-Indianity is expressed first and foremost through rituals (in the traditional, anthropological sense of the term), constantly recreated, disappearing only to be reborn in an unrecognizable form and metamorphosing ad infinitum. They may be discreet and even private, as testified by certain offerings to the gods in Cuzco’s banks and the reading of coca leaves...

  7. 3 Neo-Indian Invention
    (pp. 77-154)

    The lability of the neo-Indian movement, its contradictions, and the fluidity of its contours prevent any attempt at tracing a linear history. Nevertheless, it did not emerge from nowhere, and we should now try to find out how it is part of the evolution of the societies that produce it. In both Mexico and Peru, the same quest for autochthony hounds its representations. When they broke away from the Spanish Crown, the Creole elites of these new republics also distanced the indigenous people they despised from the national representation. However, they could not attribute a figure of autochthony to the...

  8. 4 Mexico’s and Peru’s Diverging Forms of Neo-Indianity
    (pp. 155-208)

    There is an undeniable family resemblance between neo-Indians in Mexico and Peru. They share a marked taste for rituals in which they display intense creativity and both find an inexhaustible source in their pre-Hispanic past to redefine their identity, especially through the “imperialization” of traditions that, at times, verges on revisionism. However, it would be simplistic to draw up a comparative index and promote the idea of a shared “tropical supermodernity” in the wake of globalization.

    In fact, the differences between the two neo-Indianities, mexicanidad and neo-Incaism, are such that they may seem to arise from two distinct sources of...

  9. 5 Neo-Indians and the New Age
    (pp. 209-246)

    During our research in Mexico and Peru, we have brought to light influences that greatly exceed the scope of their national frameworks. Movements that might appear at first sight to be merely local manifestations of a reconquered identity are now deeply impregnated with the globalized philosophy of the New Age. This is one of the paradoxes of these nascent neo-Indianities: they draw their inspiration from traditions that have a limited geographical scope, yet, at the same time, these native customs are linked to the globalized ideas of neotraditions that, from Celtic countries to Nepal, reflect “ethnic” specificities with a background...

  10. 6 Back to the Community
    (pp. 247-258)

    In the previous chapters, we distinguished two cultural configurations: Indian communities whose ritual life unfolds according to its own historical logic, and the cultural configuration of the neo-Indians, heavily influenced by the New Age. Will these two configurations one day merge? Is this an audacious conjecture or an unlikely hypothesis? Two scenarios, one in Mexico and the other in Peru, evoke a form of osmosis that is beginning to emerge. After our detour via the globalization of neoethnic beliefs, we now return to the traditional communities from where we set out.

    The Otomi Ceremonial Center in the Mexico State, a...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 259-276)

    Behind the sheen of costumes and enough incantations and ritual variants to make one’s head spin, the reader might expect to discover a kind of black box or magical key to define the neo-Indians we have been studying throughout this ethnological journey from Mexico to Peru. Is there not at least a general definition? We would be the first to admit that there is no such thing as an “identikit” picture, even less so at a time when anthropology is trying to rid itself of its essentialist creed according to which Indians possess an immutable cultural specificity—a creed now...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-290)
  13. Index
    (pp. 291-298)