Reinventing Indians: New Perspectives on the "Indian Problem" in Modern Mexico

AHA Session 236
Conference on Latin American History 66
Sunday, January 8, 2012: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Armitage Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Christina Bueno, Northeastern Illinois University
Edward Wright-Rios, Vanderbilt University

Session Abstract

This panel brings together research that examines intersections between the state and indigenous peoples in modern Mexico.  More specifically, it looks at the state and Indians in relational terms and highlights key institutions, ideologies, and cultural practices that have shaped the construction of “Indianness” over time and space.  The papers examine linguistic practices in legal settings in post-Independence Oaxaca, state archaeology during the Porfiriato, and the effort to modernize the peoples of the Zona Huicot (Sierras of Nayarit and Jalisco) during the 1960s and ‘70s.  The diverse topics are bounded by a primary theme: the tensions between the cultural salience of the “Indian” for notions about race, identity, order, and progress in Mexican history and the counterdiscourses produced by indigenous peoples themselves.  Alongside this thematic focus, the papers’ temporal breadth will offer insights into the state’s and indigenous peoples’ uses of notions of “Indianness” in the service of varied political projects.  The panel will be of interest to a wide range of scholars including historians of Mexico, Latin America, indigenous peoples, race, identity, and nation building.

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