January 30, 2007

A Short Definition of Indigenismo

Nelly Arvelo-Jiménez describes the policy of indigenismo as, ‘a system of policies pertaining to indigenous peoples in which the relation of the state and Indian peoples is defined’ (105). She explains that indigenismo was in the colonial past a means to excuse the ill-treatment of indigenous peoples and the denial of their rights. Arvelo-Jiménez explains that indigenismo was, ‘the ideology that “legalized” or “normalized” the condition of domination that was introduced in order to impose a Latin or European way of life’ (105). Arvelo-Jiménez notes that such a policy is still being adopted by the Venezuelan government and she explains how the indigenous people’s rights to land and freedom have been denied by:
• missionary indigenismo which changed the education of indigenous peoples “civilising” them;
• and state indigenismo that fails to stop ‘land grabbing’.

Arvelo-Jiménez, Nelly. ‘The Politics of Cultural Survival in Venezuela: Beyond Indigenismo’. Frontier Expansion in Amazonia. Ed. Marianne Schmink and Charles H. Wood. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1984. 105-126


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