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Latin American Research Review 42.1 (2007) 238-251

Multicultrualism, Identity, and the Articulation of Citizenship
The "Indian Question" Now
Reviewed by
William D. Smith
Western Oregon University
Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Educationi, and Multicultrual Development in Peru. By María Elena García. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. Pp. 232. $52.95 cloth, $20.95 paper.)
Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity. By Walter E. Little. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. Pp. 332. $55.00 cloth, $22.95 paper.)
The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America. Edited by Nancy Grey Postero and Leon Zamosc. (Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2004. Pp. 272. $67.50 cloth, $27.50 paper.)
Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of Indigenous Movements and the Postliberal Challenge. By Deborah J.Yashar. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Pp. 388. $85.00 cloth, $37.99 paper.)

Latin American history over the last three decades has made it plain that indigenous people are playing key roles in re-visioning the democratic process from local to global horizons. If both phenomenologically and politically the local level remains fundamental for Indian communities struggling against everyday political-economic exigencies, Indian movements in Latin America have both drawn on and animated ethnic rights initiatives that exceed the national context (Brysk 1994, 2000). But amid ongoing interest in the implications of local-global linkages for indigenous prospects, it bears reminding that the meso-level of ethnic politics—between national governments and Indian organizing at various scales—remains definitive in how indigenous communities negotiate their futures. An especially important issue in this regard is the negotiation of citizenship in multicultural, neoliberal states (Smith and Moors 1990; Urban and Sherzer 1991; Van Cott 1994; Warren 1998; Warren and Jackson 2002a). [End Page 238]

One significant scholarly current on indigenous ascendancy within national contexts has centered on a wave of constitutional reforms beginning in the 1990s that has promised to rewrite the compact between Indians and states in the post-corporatist era (Hernández 1997; Sieder 2002; Van Cott 2000). More than ten years into this new moment, however, substantive political and ethnodevelopmental gains for indigenous communities continue to be elusive. And indeed, as Charles Hale has argued, new modes of neoliberal governance have shown a remarkable capacity to disperse the forces of indigenous mobilizations (Hale 2004, 17).

All but one of the works reviewed below frame analysis of indigenous politics within national political histories. I begin with a discussion of the first three volumes on the list—Postero and Zamosc, García, and Yashar—and conclude with Little's study of how one dimension of global markets, ethnotourism, shapes Mayan strategies of livelihood and cultural expression in Guatemala. This last is an account that resonates with observations, such as Hale's, about culture and neoliberalism.

The "Indian Question" in Seven Countries

The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America explores indigenous movements in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. In their introduction to the volume, Nancy Postero and Leon Zamosc explain the importance of working at the nation-state level, both for Indian organizations and scholars. Although the local remains a basic horizon for organizing, and indigenous initiatives in Latin America participate in global streams of ethnic politics, "ultimately, it is at the level of the nation-state where movements wage their principal [political] struggle" (3; also see Warren and Jackson 2002b). In fact, the state has long been a decisive factor in the construction of Indian identities themselves.

Indigenous struggles are irreducibly diverse in character, dependent on specific histories of ethnic and class relations, the national political context in which organizations press their claims, and sheer demography. Thus a host of contextual factors shape different modes of organizing; still, the comparative ambitions of the book demand that one look for patterns in the diversity. Postero and Zamosc propose four problems analyzable across national ambits. First, the "Indian Question"—a "framework of contestation, where the future of indigenous citizenship is at stake" (4)—the examination of which...


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