Between Social Movements and Identity The Case of the Indigenous

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Between Social Movements and Identity The Case of the Indigenous

Between Social Movements and Identity: The Case of the Indigenous Urban

    Multiethnic Cabildo; the Chibcariwak in Colombia

     Master Thesis By



    Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law Master University of Milan/ University of the Basque Country

Supervised by: Prof. ANNE GRIFFITHS





CHAPTER I: Methodological Issues 11

    A. Primary Data 12

    B. Secondary Data 13

    CHAPTER II: Framing the Global and Local Indigenous Mobilization 17

CHAPTER III: From the “Old” to the “New” Social Movements 21

    CHAPTER IV: The Emergence of the Latin America Indigenous Movement 26

    CHAPTER V: The Colombian and Antioquian Indigenous Movement 32

    CHAPTER VI: The New Social Movements: Legal and Political Mobilization 38

    A. The Legal and Political Mobilization of the L.A. Indigenous Movement. 40

    B. The Mobilization of the Colombian and Antioquian Indigenous Movement 49

    C. Legal Mobilization and Land Recovery in Colombia and Antioquia 50

    D. Other Mobilizations of the OIA 51

    CHAPTER VII: The Construction of Indigenous Identity and Cultural Identity in Latin

    American, Colombian and Antioquian OIA- Indigenous Movement 53

    A. On New Social Movements’ Identity 53

    B. The Indigenous Identity in the Latin American, Colombian and Antioquian


     Indigenous Movement 55

CHAPTER VIII: Questioning Paradigms: The Urban Indigenous Peoples

    Mobilization in Medellin 63

    A. Approaching the Chibcariwak 63

    B. More than a Struggle for Indigenous Status 67

    C. From the “Real” to the “Political” Indigenous Identity: Makes the

    Chibcariwak part of the Indigenous Social Movement? 71



    Table # 1. Estimated Indigenous Population and its Percentages in Latin America 82 Table # 2. Total Indigenous Population and Territory by regions until June 1998 83 Table # 3. The 12 Regions with the Largest Amount of Indigenous Population 1998 84 Graph # 1. Indigenous Population / Percentual rate by Regions in Colombian 2005 84 Graph # 2. Medellin Main Indigenous Ethnicities in the Map 85 Table # 4. Budgetary Report Medellin- the Chibcariwak 1996-2003 85 Table # 5. Comparative the Chibcariwak- the OIA Territory 86

    Table # 6. Comparative the Chibcariwak- the OIA Identity 86

    Table # 7. Comparative the Chibcariwak- the OIA immediate objectives 86 Diagram # 1 Levels of Recognition and Identification 87




    AIDESEP Asociación Interétnica de la Selva Peruana

    CIDOB Confederación Indígena del Oriente Boliviano

COB Confederación Obrera Boliviana

    COICA Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica

    CONAIE Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador

    CONAMQ Consejo Nacional de Markas y Ayllus del Quillasuyo

    CRIC Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (Colombia)

    CSUTCB Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia

    DANE Departamento Nacional de Estadistica (Colombia)

     National Region of Statistics

DGAI Dirección General de Asuntos Indígena /

    General Office for Indigenous Issues

    (Dependency of the Ministry of Internal Affaire)

    FEINE La confederación Ecuatoriana de Indígenas Evangélicos

    FENOCIN La Federación Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Indígenas y

    Negras (Ecuador)

MAS Movimiento al Socialismo (Bolivia)

OAS Organization of American States

OIA Organización Indígena de Antioquia /

    Indigenous Organization of Antioquia

    ONIC Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia/

     Nacional Indigenous Organization of Colombia

U. de A. Universidad de Antioquia/

     University of Antioquia


    This work would not have been possible without the

    permanent support of my parents,

    the patient supervision of Anne and Ed,

    the helpful advice of Elida,

    and the collaboration of the members of

    the OIA and the Chibcariwak.

“…individuals bear their gods in their heart. They do not reason, they believe. They are the bodily

    manifestation of god’s eternal values, and as such, they cannot be dissolved, lost in the whirlwind of

    information flows and cross and cross organizational networks.” Manuel Castells



    The fast expansion and rapid growth of the indigenous movement in Latin America has threatened its vitality and cohesion, one reason among many has been the brisk expansion of indigenous organizations with competing claims and programs. This situation was already visible 15 years ago when the French Anthropologist Christian Gross said:

     “With the proliferation of indigenous organizations contradictions arise at the core of the Movement, and now we don’t know if we should admire the vitality of the process they are

     involved in, or fear for its fragility.”(own translation Gross 1991: 172)

    In Colombia although one can claim the indigenous movement has strong central representation, some differences have recently arisen between its policies and the proposal of a new regional indigenous organization. The disagreements at the center of the so-called “indigenous movement”

    have been played out in very neutral and pragmatic terms that hide the underlying assumptions that are used and questioned by the world-wide indigenous movement, the state and scientist. These agents making use of discourses with material and symbolic effects develop their struggle

    1in political, juridical and scientific fields (Bourdieu 1995: 163-202) in which it is define what

    makes the indigenous identity legitimate.

    2In the Antioquia region of Northwest Colombia, the Organization Indígena de Antioquia the

    OIA- is the administrative organization currently representing the indigenous population at the

     1 Here one can recall all the “postmodern” critique” to science as the teller or holder of the “truth” (for example: Santos Boaventura de Sousa Toward a New Common Sense: Law, Science and Politics in the Paradigmatic

    Transition and Crítica da Razão Indolente. Regarding the role played by anthropology in Colombia and its influence

    in the Constitutional Court judgments read Libardo Ariza?s paper presented to the Berlin Law and Society Conference 2007 “We are indigenous too”: anthropological knowledge, indigenous subjectivity and constitutional adjudication. 2 Antioquia is the 6th largest region in Colombia with 63,612 km? and with the second largest population (5,671.689 according to National Census 2005) after Cundinamarca, Bogota included. Antioquia is also considered to have the least mixed populations in the country and there are claims of being a “genetic isolate”, claim that has been


    regional level. The OIA has entered into direct confrontation with an urban ethnic indigenous

    3group; the Chibcariwak that has involved not only a struggle for political representation of the indigenous population but also for unity of the indigenous movement identity, claims on land and goals and, especially the requisites under which a person and a group can be considered

    4indigenous. Furthermore, resources and budgets can be compromised, and this plays an important role in the decisions and discourses put into practice by the different groups.

    It is for this reason that this thesis proposes a critical approach to the indigenous peoples’ struggle in Colombia, through an empirical study of the two main indigenous organizations in the region

    5of Antioquia and its capital Medellin. Crucial theoretical and practical questions have been

    raised regarding the traditional indigenous movement and of the two categories under which Social Sciences have analyzed them, namely social movements and identity. Both concepts bring

    to light previous studies and research (among others Tuhiwai 2002; Hodgson 2002; Dávalos 2005; Hidalgo 2005; Quijano 2005) that investigated the development of indigenous struggles, often leaving aside important issues that should have been be introduced in order to fully understand some of the new trends. The main objective of this thesis, is to portray what is really at stake in the struggles undertaken by the indigenous groups in Latin America, as well as globally.

    scientifically supported by a recent molecular genetic research developed by the Universities of Arizona, Antioquia, Montreal and London where it is shown that the population in Antioquia presents a high predominance of European genes; and can be considered regarding for example surnames frequency “more isolated” that the most isolated town

    in French-Canada i:e Ile de la Madeleine (Bedoya, G et al 2006:7234-7239). Antioquia is considered to be one of the richest departments in the country. It produces 15.42% of the country’s GDP; Census 2005- holding the largest

    public budget for a region- 2,2 billion Colombian pesos for 2007 (see web page Gobernación de Antioquia); while the second, Valle del Cauca has 1 billion 134 thousand million Colombian pesos also for 2007 (see web page Gobernación del Valle). 3 The concepts the Chibcariwak, the Cabildo Chibcariwak and the Cabildo are used indistinctively throughout this work to refer to the same organization. 4 Among others: Oficio 5319, November 5, 1999 from DGAI; Art. Resolución 001, 1999 ONIC. 5 Is the Capital city of the department of Antioquia in which metropolitan area -Valle de Aburra- lives around 57% of the people of the department -3.312.165-. (Census 2005; see Annexes). Medellin is the capital city of the country with the highest income per capita - US$ 3.794 (Proexport).


     The thesis will also explore differing insights into the indigenous peoples’ movement, showing their attempts to renew their indigenous identity in order to assess how they are positioning themselves in the political field and their various achievements. It also aims to show how the indigenous organization the Chibcariwak created itself under a different paradigm from that framed within the “indigenous movement”. This organization undermines the concept of

    “indigenous movement” to the point that it has entered into direct confrontation with representatives of the transnational indigenous movement in Colombia, namely the Organization Nacional Indígena de Colombia ONIC- and the OIA. Finally, this study aims to create a

    dialogue between the established concepts of identity and social movements. It will analyze the

    indigenous movement from empirical data obtained from the research in order to reconceptualise how cases such as that of the Chibcariwak should be perceived.

    Chapter 1 deals with the methodology used for gathering the data during my fieldwork and on its analysis. It presents the type of study that is undertaken i.e. case study, followed by a presentation of the primary (section A) and secondary (section B) data. Chapter 2 illustrates the emergence of the global mobilization giving an overview of the situation of indigenous people in the different continents. It portrays the indigenous population in the former English colonies, Asia and Africa, showing the numbers, claims and national and international objectives of their struggle. Chapter 3 provides the theoretical framework of new social movements, when considered in tandem with the claims, goals and structure of the old workers movements. It shows the new social movements as a product of determine historical and social conditions.

    Chapter 4 and 5 show the ways in which the Latin American, Colombian and Antioquian indigenous movements comply with the concept of a new social movement. These two chapters, that are closely linked, demonstrate how the indigenous movements in these regions may be viewed as part of the global indigenous movement, and how this in turn may be viewed as a new


    social movement. In chapter 6 the composition of the indigenous movement, its political transformations, its mobilization of law and resources as well as its various political achievements are documented. This process of construction is documented for Latin American in section A and for the Colombian and Antioquian indigenous movement in Section B. Section C illustrates how recovery of land marks the main achievement of the Antioquian movement’s legal mobilization. Finally in section D other mobilizations of the Antioquian indigenous movement are outlined.

In chapter 7 the concept of indigenous identity is further expanded upon by introducing the

    concepts of individual and collective identity from a symbolic interactionist perspective (section A). Subsequently, in section B, these concepts are applied to the Latin American, Colombian and Antioquian indigenous movements. It aims to show the intrinsic connection between these new indigenous movements’ identity culturally based and the development of the indigenous movement struggle for rights, recognition, and autonomy. The main goal of this section is to show how the current indigenous movement’s identity discourse is being shaped by the indigenous movement struggles.

    Chapter 8 focuses on the Cabildo Chibariwak and the challenges it raises to classic analyses of identity in the indigenous social movement (section A). Section B shows the conflict between the different ethnic claims of the OIA and the Chibcariwak.. It presents the different mobilizations undertaken by the OIA, as a representative of the global indigenous movement, to delegitimize the claims and basis of the Chibcariwak. This strategy, as it is shown, pursues the monopoly on the profits given to ethnic groups. Finally in section C, the bibliographic and empirical information is analyzed according to the political use of identity that is employed by both indigenous organizations. For I argue that that although the Chibariwak can be considered an indigenous ethnic group it does not fit the concepts used for studying traditional indigenous


    organizations. This is because its background as a political ethnic social group that has become urbanized raises questions about what kind of framework would be suited to comprehend a group that basis its claims to social justice on an ethnic identity in which autonomy territory- and

    cultural claims are not its primary cornerstones.

    The thesis concludes by re-examining various data found throughout my study, and will close with some thoughts about the different uses to which ethnic identity is put to access scarce resources and to reposition discourses within the political field. I conclude with saying that the Chibcariwak group seems to be the utopian version of the “old” new indigenous social movement, but that given its position as a minority discourse within a minority discourse, it lacks the power to mobilize resources to position itself in the political field. Finally and more provocatively, I put forward the view that the concept of an urban social movement may provide a suitable framework for analysing other social groups that are similar to the Chibcariwak.

    This work recognizes the importance of people at the base of the indigenous movement for the formation and functioning of the organizations. Nonetheless it focuses on the directive level of them because it can provide more accurate information regarding the strategies and discourses implemented by members and structure to pursue their goals. For this reason, although this work partially follows the classic breakdown proposed by Alan Touraine (1978) for analyzing social movements i.e. main demands, social actors involved and identity formation, it also questions this conventional approach for analyzing our “case study”.

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