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Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neo-Liberal State in Latin America

Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neo-Liberal State in Latin America

Edited by Edward F. Fischer
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neo-Liberal State in Latin America
    Book Description:

    In recent years the concept and study of "civil society" has received a lot of attention from political scientists, economists, and sociologists, but less so from anthropologists. A ground-breaking ethnographic approach to civil society as it is formed in indigenous communities in Latin America, this volume explores the multiple potentialities of civil society's growth and critically assesses the potential for sustained change. Much recent literature has focused on the remarkable gains made by civil society and the chapters in this volume reinforce this trend while also showing the complexity of civil society - that civil society can itself sometimes be uncivil. In doing so, these insightful contributions speak not only to Latin American area studies but also to the changing shape of global systems of political economy in general.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-547-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ted Fischer
  4. Introduction: Indigenous Peoples, Neo-liberal Regimes, and Varieties of Civil Society in Latin America
    (pp. 1-18)
    Edward F. Fischer

    Civil society is a slippery concept, and therein lies much of its appeal. By meaning many things to many people, it is one of those frequently invoked yet strategically ambiguous ideas that have real traction, not only in the rarefied world of professional journals, but also in the arena of public policy and political practice. Much of the recent literature on civil society has come from political science. But anthropology (ethnography in particular) has a lot to offer by documenting the on-the-ground diversity of civil society. The leitmotif that emerges from the chapters in this collection is that civil society...

  5. Chapter 1 Indigenous Politics and the State: The Andean Highlands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 19-42)
    Michiel Baud

    In recent years, Latin America has witnessed an eruption of indigenous activism that has increasingly dominated political developments in several countries. This tendency has been especially clear in the Andean region. The implementation of the ‘multicultural’ 1991 Constitution in Colombia, the emergence of the MAS (Movement toward Socialism) and the presidency of Evo Morales in Bolivia, and the emergence and decline of the CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) in Ecuador are among the most salient highlights of this process. They point to radical changes in the position of the indigenous population in Latin American politics. At the same...

  6. Chapter 2 La mano dura and the Violence of Civil Society in Bolivia
    (pp. 43-63)
    Daniel M. Goldstein, Gloria Achá, Eric Hinojosa and Theo Roncken

    In January 2003, the body of Jerry Rodríguez, also known as ‘El Ruso’ (the Russian), was found lying in a gutter on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia. El Ruso had been shot seven times in a manner that police would describe as ‘execution style’. In recent months, El Ruso had become rather infamous in Cochabamba as a poster boy for the failure of the state’s New Criminal Procedural Code (El Nuevo Código de Procedimiento Penal), passed into law by the Bolivian government in 2001. The New Code was intended to replace the former ‘inquisitorial’ system, which, due to basic deficiencies...

  7. Chapter 3 Empire/Multitude—State/Civil Society: Rethinking Topographies of Power through Transnational Connectivity in Ecuador and Beyond
    (pp. 64-85)
    Suzana Sawyer

    Pablo spoke forcefully as he stood on the flatbed of a large truck seconding as a stage. His words blared through loudspeakers as he rallied a crowd of demonstrators to join his protest chant: “ChevronTexaco, ya viste, la justicia si existe” (You see, ChevronTexaco, justice does exist). It was October 2003, and approximately 500 Amazonian Indians and peasants were gathered outside the Superior Court in Lago Agrio, a ramshackle frontier town in the northern Ecuadorian rain forest. Unperturbed by the morning rains, men and women, young and old, had traveled to Lago Agrio to mark what they called “the trial...

  8. Chapter 4 The Power of Ecuador’s Indigenous Communities in an Era of Cultural Pluralism
    (pp. 86-106)
    Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld

    Ecuador’s indigenous movement spent the 1980s creating a national organization, the 1990s achieving popular legitimacy, and the early 2000s undermining much of what they had gained. To be sure, the general strikes, marches, and political campaigns of the 1990s always fell short of aspirations. Even so, they each added to the capacity of the movement: the power to renegotiate legislation during protests against the 1994 land development law, the formation of a new electoral movement called Pachakutik in 1996 to help indigenous candidates, and the achievement of constitutional reforms in 1998. In the 2000s, however, participation in a coup, backroom...

  9. Chapter 5 Civil Society and the Indigenous Movement in Colombia: The Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca
    (pp. 107-123)
    Joanne Rappaport

    A few years ago, I was invited to review a series of presentations on civil society in Colombia. The roster included papers on the movement in the capital city of Bogotá spearheaded by its elected mayors to introduce a new civic consciousness; studies of the Catholic Church, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and universities; an evaluation of the work of professionals involved in giving psychological assistance to victims of conflict; and, of course, analyses of negotiations with armed actors, such as the guerrilla and para-military organizations. Surprisingly absent was any mention of the popular movements that have had a significant impact on...

  10. Chapter 6 Indigenous Nations in Guatemalan Democracy and the State: A Tentative Assessment
    (pp. 124-147)
    Demetrio Cojtí Cuxil

    In Guatemala, ethnic and ‘racial’ differences are not enjoyed; they are rejected and suffered. With the exception of a brief democratic period from 1944 to 1954, Guatemalan history has been marked by authoritarian and conservative governments in which dictatorships were common and toward which people generally turned a blind eye. Only since 1985 has the country entered a period of transition to democracy. Sadly, this political transformation has not led to a genuine progression from mono-ethnicity to multi-nationality, or from colonialism to the liberation of indigenous groups. As such, the state, as well as the democratic system, remains structurally colonialist...

  11. Chapter 7 Reformulating the Guatemalan State: The Role of Maya Intellectuals and Civil Society Discourse
    (pp. 148-166)
    Marta Elena Casaús Arzú

    The relationship between civil society and the state remains one of the most hotly debated issues in the social sciences, marked by vastly different understandings of the bonds between civil society, political society, and the state. The term ‘civil society’ was defined by Hegel, and later Marx, as the sphere in which economic relations are established, that is, “the set of economic relationships that constitute the basis on which the legal/political superstructures rest” (Bobbio 1987: 40). Thus, for Hegel as well as Marx, civil society is the sphere that opposes the state. The tug of war between the two is...

  12. Chapter 8 El otro lado: Local Ends and Development in a Q’eqchi’ Maya Community
    (pp. 167-184)
    Avery Dickins

    Locals in the Q’eqchi’ Maya village of Muqb’ilha’ refer to the recently developed tourism complex asel otro lado(the other side), contrasting it with the ‘lived side’ where the community is located. The visitor center and bungalows sit on the bank of the Candelaria River, across from the homes, the corn mill, and the local public school used by the community’s 55 families on the opposite side of the river. Yet the reference goes beyond a physical division, as the tourism center provides a window to the globalized world beyond this remote community. In 2004, a two-kilometer gravel road...

  13. Chapter 9 The Political Uses of Maya Medicine: Civil Organizations in Chiapas and the Ventriloquism Effect
    (pp. 185-206)
    Pedro Pitarch

    In 1989, when I began my fieldwork in the village of Cancuc, the indigenous people were pleasantly surprised that, unlike civil servants and political and religious activists, I had come not to try to teach them something but rather to learn from them. Seventeen years later, the situation has changed radically. Now, the indigenous people ask for—or rather, demand—aid and ‘cooperation’. Relations between the indigenous communities of Chiapas (the southernmost state in Mexico) and the rest of the country have been transformed, and civil organizations have played a decisive part in this transformation process. As in other parts...

  14. Index
    (pp. 207-214)