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The Neo-Indians

A Religion for the Third Millenium

Edited by Jacques Galinier and Antoinette Molinié, Translated by Lucy Lyall Grant

Publication Year: 2013

The Neo-Indians is a rich ethnographic study of the emergence of the neo-Indian movement—a new form of Indian identity based on largely reinvented pre-colonial cultures and comprising a diverse group of people attempting to re-create purified pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and ritual practices without the contaminating influences of modern society.

There is no full-time neo-Indian. Both indigenous and non-indigenous practitioners assume Indian identities only when deemed spiritually significant. In their daily lives, they are average members of modern society, dressing in Western clothing, working at middle-class jobs, and retaining their traditional religious identities. As a result of this part-time status the neo-Indians are often overlooked as a subject of study, making this book the first anthropological analysis of the movement.

Galinier and Molinié present and analyze four decades of ethnographic research focusing on Mexico and Peru, the two major areas of the movement’s genesis. They examine the use of public space, describe the neo-Indian ceremonies, provide analysis of the ceremonies’ symbolism, and explore the close relationship between the neo-Indian religion and tourism. The Neo-Indians will be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, and scholars of Latin American history, religion, and cultural studies.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xiv

At the start of this new millennium, Latin America is reappearing on the international scene with a new face. The violence of dictatorships seems gradually to be receding in favor of moderate politics. Governments are distancing themselves from North America, and the guerilla threat is ...

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pp. 1-14

It was unheard of—over a million people were taking part! On March 21, 1996, a huge and colorful crowd descended on Teotihuacan, a hub of international tourism. Well before noon, the Pyramid of the Sun (separated from the Pyramid of the Moon by the Avenue of the Dead) was ...

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1. The Birth of the International Neo-Indian Movement

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pp. 15-28

The celebrations for the Fifth Centenary of what in Mexico was tactfully called the “Meeting of Two Worlds” (so as to remain within a politically correct framework) led to heated debates and controversy both sides of the Atlantic. The event served as a catalyst for trends we had sensed taking...

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2. Ritual Awakenings

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pp. 29-76

Neo-Indians give free rein to their creativity during their celebrations—there are the feathered dancers on Mexico City’s Zócalo, mystic pilgrims in Teotihuacan, high priests invoking the Sun God in Sacsayhuaman and recently initiated shamans sacrificing llamas at the University of...

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3. Neo-Indian Invention

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pp. 77-154

The lability of the neo-Indian movement, its contradictions, and the fluidity of its contours prevent any attempt at tracing a linear history. Nevertheless, it did not emerge from nowhere, and we should now try to find out how it is part of the evolution of the societies that produce it. In...

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4. Mexico’s and Peru’s Diverging Forms of Neo-Indianity

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pp. 155-208

There is an undeniable family resemblance between neo- Indians in Mexico and Peru. They share a marked taste for rituals in which they display intense creativity and both find an inexhaustible source in their pre-Hispanic past to redefine their identity, especially through the “imperialization”...

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5. Neo-Indians and the New Age

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pp. 209-246

During our research in Mexico and Peru, we have brought to light influences that greatly exceed the scope of their national frameworks. Movements that might appear at first sight to be merely local manifestations of a reconquered identity are now deeply impregnated with the globalized...

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6. Back to the Community

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pp. 247-258

In the previous chapters, we distinguished two cultural configurations: Indian communities whose ritual life unfolds according to its own historical logic, and the cultural configuration of the neo-Indians, heavily influenced by the New Age. Will these two configurations one...

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pp. 259-276

Behind the sheen of costumes and enough incantations and ritual variants to make one’s head spin, the reader might expect to discover a kind of black box or magical key to define the neo-Indians we have been studying throughout this ethnological journey from Mexico to Peru. Is there...


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pp. 277-290


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pp. 291-298

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322740
E-ISBN-10: 1607322749
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322733
Print-ISBN-10: 1607322730

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 8
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 864141149
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Neo-Indians

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Rites and ceremonies -- Latin America.
  • Indians -- Religion.
  • Indians -- Rites and ceremonies.
  • Latin America -- Religious life and customs.
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