Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

There is no such thing as ‘the’ Indian

09.05.2008
An increasing number of mayors in Guatemala are of Indian origin. Dutch researcher Elisabet Rasch went to find out what this development means and discovered that there is much more to building a multicultural democracy than electing Indian mayors and presidents. This is due to the enormous range of interpretations of identity: there is no such thing as ‘the’ Indian.

Indigenous movements tend to portray the Indian population as unchangeable and authentic in order to demand certain political and cultural rights. They do this by appealing to international treaties and national legislations, which likewise uphold a clear-cut definition of ‘indigenousness’.

However, is it actually possible to determine who is and who is not an Indian? And, on this basis, can it be determined what a multicultural democracy should look like?

Rasch’s research explored how different indigenous identities and cultures are defined and interpreted at a local level, and what actually goes on behind treaties, laws, fine speeches and glossy pamphlets. She demonstrates how local authorities and politicians judge indigenous characteristics - such as the use of certain clothing, the speaking of an indigenous language and partaking in Indian spiritual ceremonies - in different and sometimes conflicting ways. To some these elements of indigenous culture are almost sacred; to others they represent underdevelopment and backwardness.

Nevertheless they all feel indigenous and they all have ideas of what an indigenous multicultural democracy should look like. This causes tension between mayors, traditional Indian authorities (such as councils of elders) and community magistrates. In one of the villages, where Rasch carried out fieldwork, this even led to the abolition of one of the traditional authorities.

Multicultural co-existence

On 29 December 1996, after 36 years of civil war, a peace treaty was signed between the Guatemalan government and the armed opposition. Since these peace agreements, Guatemala has been transformed from a homogenous nation state into a society that calls itself ‘multicultural’. Two actors continue to play an important role in this process.

On the one hand there are an increasing number of indigenous mayors who choose whether or not to allow their Mayan identity to influence their governing practice. At the same time, the indigenous Maya Movement tries to contribute to the building of a multicultural democracy. The Maya Movement’s mission is the social and political integration of the indigenous population in Guatemalan society, based on Mayan identity. It focuses on active political participation being part of their universal and ethnic civil rights.

Sonja Knols | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nwo.nl
http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOA_7EFDPN_Eng

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Formed to Meet Customers’ Needs – New Laser Beams for Glass Processing

17.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Preserving soil quality in the long term

17.12.2018 | Architecture and Construction

New RNA sequencing strategy provides insight into microbiomes

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>