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The Politics of Ethnicity

The Politics of Ethnicity

Indigenous Peoples in Latin American States

Edited by David Maybury-Lewis

ISBN 9780674009646

Publication date: 01/30/2003

The indigenous people of the hemisphere have resisted a five-hundred-year assault, fighting to maintain their cultural identities. During this time, authorities in the Americas have insisted that the toleration of indigenous societies and cultures would undermine their respective states. In recent years, however, the nations of the Americas have started to reverse themselves. They are altering their constitutions and proclaiming themselves multiethnic. Why is this happening now? The Politics of Ethnicity: Indigenous Peoples in Latin American States, edited by David Maybury-Lewis, helps us understand the reasons and history behind these times of transition.

The book provides a valuable overview of current problems facing indigenous peoples in their relation with national states in Latin America, from the highlands of Mexico to the jungles of Brazil. The traditional, sometimes centuries old, relations between states and indigenous peoples are now changing and being rediscussed. The collection, authored by U.S. and Latin American anthropologists using interdisciplinary approaches, enables the reader to understand these recent developments in a comparative framework. An ambitious and quite thorough collection, it is brought together skillfully by one of the discipline’s maître penseurs.


  • The result of a conference held Harvard in 2000, this collection of essays explores the contemporary impact of indigenous organizations and indigenista policies in Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil… This is an excellent volume that explains the variety of routes taken by the ‘return of the Indian’ in nine Latin-American national contexts. Predictions made in 2000 when the papers were given have proved quite prescient and the collection will be much used in teaching and research.

    —Guy Thomson, Bulletin of Spanish Studies


  • David Maybury-Lewis was Edward C. Henderson Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University and founder and president of Cultural Survival, an organization that defends indigenous rights.

Book Details

  • 410 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies