26 Jul 2024  |  Ruben Darío Chambi, Juliane Müller & Philipp Schorch

(Re)doing ethnographies in times of Indigenous (re)emergence

EASA Conference (University of Barcelona)

The (re)emergence of Indigenous peoples on the global stage has brought along changes in anthropological thinking and, consequently, in the way ethnographies are done. In recent times, various Indigenous communities have deployed processes of appropriation, incorporation and resignification of the discourses and categories of anthropology, using them in favour of their own aspirations and political, economic and social agendas. An example can be found in Bolivia, where, since its reconstitution as a Plurinational State (2009), anthropological reflections have been incorporated into official public policies. These include community-based economy, the rights of mother earth and philosophies such as "Vivir Bien", all of which portray narratives that have been influenced by anthropology in their inception. Moreover, the Plurinational umbrella has given way to a range of Indigenous communities developing new languages to articulate their demands, thereby utilising official narratives and anthropological categories to renegotiate their relationships with various external actors, including the state.

The aim of this roundtable is to reflect on the ways in which the processes of appropriation and incorporation of anthropological reflection by Indigenous actors and interlocutors influences ethnographic work. Participants examine the political, methodological and epistemic implications of these (re)emerging scenarios for (re)doing scientific research. The importance of analysing such new contexts of ethnographic work lies in the fact that, although these processes of appropriation may represent contributions to the discipline of anthropology, they may, by becoming part of official or hegemonic discourses, also limit the understanding of new forms of contemporary Indigeneity.

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The 18th EASA Biennial Conference "Doing and Undoing with Anthropology" is convened by the University of Barcelona, 23-26 July 2024.