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  • Latin American Indigeneities through Settler Colonialism, Neoliberalism, and Cyberspace
  • Michelle Vasquez Ruiz (bio)
Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State. By Shannon Speed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. 176 pages. $27.95 (paper).
Indigenous Dispossession: Housing and Maya Indebtedness in Mexico. By M. Bianet Castellanos. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021. 192 pages. $25.00 (paper).
Indigenous Interfaces: Space, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America. Edited by Jennifer Gomez Menjivar and Gloria Elizabeth Chacon. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2019. 304 pages. $35.00 (paper).

Colonization is not a monolithic project. It is a project that is inflicted in varying yet consistently insidious ways. The books under review here explore how colonization in Latin America continues to be deployed through racial and gender violence as well as neoliberal policies and economic structures. They pay close attention to how Indigenous populations experience and address these ongoing structures of oppression. M. Bianet Castellanos's Indigenous Dispossession: Housing and Maya Indebtedness in Mexico examines how the mechanisms of neoliberal housing polices uphold settler colonialism in Mexico. Through ethnographic research Castellanos considers how Maya migrant communities in Cancun are disproportionately affected by predatory housing policies that push them to abandon Indigenous conceptions of communal landownership. Her work recognizes how the process of private homeownership attempts to deracialize and dispossess these Indigenous populations. Shannon Speed's Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State, based on interviews with Indigenous women in immigration detention centers, further explores how mechanisms of settler colonialism, [End Page 403] neoliberalism, and gender violence have made Indigenous women vulnerable to different forms of violence and abuse. Their heart-wrenching memories shared throughout the book demonstrate how in their immigration journeys they traverse many layers of gender violence inflicted by family members, by criminal organizations, and by state officials. Jennifer Gomez Menjivar and Gloria Elizabeth Chacon in their edited anthology Indigenous Interfaces: Space, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America challenge the notion that Indigeneity and technology are incompatible. On the contrary, the essays in this collection demonstrate how cyberspace is embraced and utilized as a tool to exercise agency, preserve Indigenous culture and language, and challenge the colonial injustice that Indigenous populations continue to face. Together the books under review offer us new ways to think about how Indigenous peoples are addressing modern iterations of colonial and settler colonial structures.

Settler Colonialism and Neoliberalism in Latin American

In 2017 American Quarterly presented a forum on settler colonialism in Latin America, edited by Castellanos. Working across the disciplines of Native American studies and Latin American studies, contributing scholars sought to address the utility of settler colonialism as a framework outside the Anglo colonial project. In their contributions to the forum, Castellanos and Speed both outlined the significance and limitations of applying such a theory to the study of Indigenous peoples in Latin America. Their books under review here expand on these original arguments and provide exemplary scholarship demonstrating why this perspective is necessary for future scholarship in the fields of Native American studies, Latin American studies, and American studies.

Castellanos's introduction to the 2017 forum expands on Patrick Wolfe's definition of settler colonialism by challenging how "efforts to distinguish regimes of colonialism in the Americas by their method of dispossession, as rooted in either land or labor expropriation," produce rigid binaries that occlude how in Latin America colonialism happens through both the extraction of Indigenous land and labor.1 She argues that "the logics of dispossession and elimination, which are key tenets of a settler colonial model, were not isolated to British imperialism; they were also central to Spanish and Portuguese imperial projects."2 Speed points out that in Latin America labor regimes that exploited Indigenous populations such as the encomiendas, repartimientos, and haciendas in Mexico and Central America also functioned as a "mechanism of dispossession."3 [End Page 404] Her book Incarcerated Stories further details how these structures worked to eliminate Indigenous peoples in the early colonial periods. While independence is thought to have ended these forms of colonization, Speed builds off the work of Richard Gott to outline how settlement actually...


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