Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Contested Modernities: Indigenous and Afro-descendant Struggles in Latin America

The 2009 Lozano Long Conference sponsored by the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies will have as a topic Contested Modernities: Indigenous and Afrodescendant Experiences in Latin America. This will be a scholarly gathering to discuss the specific contours of disparate modern experiences in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean and the Andes, where ethnic markers led to fundamentally distinct modernizing processes than elsewhere in the continent.

Considerable progress has been made in scholarship over the past two decades, to address the numerous conceptual failings that had left Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples invisible or marginalized in relation to dominant narratives and analytical frames. To an important degree, these contestations have been carried out by indigenous and Afro-descendant intellectuals themselves, in a way that has served to highlight the closely intertwined relationship between scholarly trends and societal politics. Yet an important facet of this scholarly transformation remains woefully incomplete, perhaps reflecting the difficulties of the corresponding political challenge. It is generally acknowledged that Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples face parallel histories of racism and oppression, and that their struggles for rights and redress follow similar patterns as well. But when it comes to empirical research and sustained analytical work, the most common pattern is to address the two separately, rather than viewing both in the same analytical lens. In the realm of literature and literary analysis a similar pattern holds. There surely are sound political and analytical reasons in particular cases. But the divide itself, and the different emphases within each body of scholarship, also betray some suspicious parallels to the racial ideologies to which both peoples have been subjected over the past 500 years.

This conference will be dedicated to probing this divide, by showcasing scholarship and political interventions that place indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the same analytical lens. We seek to explore and problematize this divide, without assuming that it should be eliminated, or that it should stay in place. Rather, our guiding premise is that rigorous historical, humanistic, and social analysis of the underlying question will both energize scholarly debates, and contribute to the bridge-building of commonality and difference, from which the struggles of both peoples stand to benefit.

The conference will be held at the University of Texas at Austin on 26 to 28 February 2009.

The Keynote Speaker will be Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Professor of Sociology at the School of Economics, University of Coimbra (Portugal), Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, Director of the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra and Director of the Center of Documentation on the Revolution of 1974 at the same University. His most recent books in English are Democratizing Democracy: Beyond the Liberal Democratic Canon (2007), and The Rise of the Global Left: The World Social Forum and Beyond (2006). He is one of the founders of the World Social Forum.

Other invited speakers include James Anaya, James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; Ginetta Candelario, Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latino/a Studies at Smith College, an expert on Dominican communities and identity formations, race and ethnicity in the Americas, Latina/o communities and identity formations, and Latina feminisms; Arturo Escobar, Distinguished Kenan Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose most recent work identifies the political ecology framework developed by the Colombian region's social movement of black communities, and suggests that this framework contains important elements for rethinking sustainability and biodiversity conservation; Michael Hanchard, Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University who has written widely on black politics, race in Latin America, and comparative racial politics; Aida Hernandez, Researcher-Professor at CIESAS (Center for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology) in Mexico City who has worked and lived among Guatemalan refugees and Chiapas' indigenous peoples on the southern Mexican border since 1986 and is the author of Histories and Stories from Chiapas: Border Identities in Southern Mexico; Bettina Ngweno, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of California, Davis, whose recent book, Turf Wars: Territory and Citizenship in the Contemporary State analyzes the local, national, and international construction and transformation of the state by examining Afro-Colombian struggles over territory and citizenship; Irmalicia Velasquez Nimatuj, Guatemalan K'iche', Maya anthropologist working on ethnicity, gender, democratization, and globalization; and Catherine Walsh, Professor of Social and Global Studies and Director of Latin American Cultural Studies at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, in Ecuador, who has worked with Indigenous movements for many years, and is now involved with the emergent Afro-Ecuadorian movement.

These scholars have all been centrally involved in debates about Afro-descendant and/or indigenous politics, culture, and history in Latin America. They will anchor the various thematic areas around which the conference panels will be organized, which include but are not limited to:

1) Post-capitalist, post-liberal, and post-statist societies;

2) Alternative modernizations or the end of coloniality;

3)Artistic manifestations of disparate cultural experiences;

4) Points of convergence and points of divergence in indigenous and Afrodescendant experiences;

5) Legal and political struggles for rights and new citizenship regimes;

6) Communal systems, stability, non-capitalist practices and non-state forms of power;

7) Human rights, indigenous communities, and Afrodescendant communities; and

8) Religious practices and alternative modernizations.

Those interested in participating should send their abstracts (between 250 and 300 words) as well as a short bio-bibliographical notice (200 words) to the two convenors: Dr. Arturo Arias and Dr. Charles R. Hale, at Arturo_arias@mail.utexas.edu and crhale@mail.utexas.edu. The deadline for sending the proposals is October 1, 2008. Acceptance will be notified by November 15, 2008. Be sure that the abstract makes clear the connection between your paper proposal and the concept statement of the Conference.

No comments: