Discussion Questions & Answers / Preguntas y Respuestas de Discusión

Questions based on Florencia Mallon’s “Indian Communities, Political Cultures, and the State in Latin America, 1780-1990:”

What were the differences in the colonial and indigenous constructions of ethnicity and centre/periphery in Peru, Bolivia and Mexico? And how did these affect the popular anti-colonial uprisings of the late 18th century? (p. 36; 40-42)

  • In Mexico, that which was indigenous was considered a sign of poverty. Mestizos dominated here.
  • In Peru, there was bipolar construction of “Indianness” (37): highland-coast or urban-rural opposition (38). “In the 1980s, scholars rediscover “the pure and idealized Indian” (38).
  • In Bolivia, there were “regional and ethnic fragments” (38).
  • In the Andes, the uprisings are led by indigenous authorities, like the caciques, thus, from the centre of the Indian powers against the centre of the colonial power.
  • In Mexico, the uprisings start in the city to “reclaim territories and economic route” (cite).

How does dualism promote oppression? (p. 44; 46)

  • Dualism is like the “binary” notion of cultures (Morales, 491), creating the dominant and the subordinate groups (an asymmetrical binary is found in Peru, Bolivia and Mexico).
  • Oppression is what creates dualism and dualism is what promotes oppression.
  • The states oppressed people, e.g. stripping the caciques of their authority in the Andes.
  • All revolutions created more… oppression and violence.
  • Indians are glorified, and the oppression still continues to date, through  tourism (46).

How did the creole oligarchies recreate colonial ethnic relations during the 19th century? (p. 45)

  • The creole oligarchies were to oppress rural workers.
  • In Bolivia, the creole oligarchies used two methods to govern the indigenous minorities: i) the “Andean Pact” between the state and the Indian ayllus that took Indian tribute and granted internal autonomy in return; ii) integrated liberal model that privatized communal lands (45).

What was the  mestizaje homogenizing project and was it successful? Why or why not? (p. 46)

  • After the Mexican revolution, the new state became very capitalistic where Indians were forced to integrate and be educated.
  • In Bolivia, the mestizos “glorified the peasant-worker alliance,” but at the same time the state organized the countryside into “paternalist, hierarchical, and corporatist lines.” The mestizo hegemony was not successful in Bolivia; it instead led to the formation of a counter-hegemony called Katarismo (47).

What does she mean by stating that in Bolivia, the best of the mestizo political culture remained, and the opposite remained in Peru? What was its legacy in Mexico? (p. 47-51)

  • In Mexico, the mestizo hegemony was most successful. They were able to coerce the Indians to participate in the economic system for a longer period of time.

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