New World of Indigenous Resistance


New World of Indigenous Resistance: Noam Chomsky and Voices from North, South, and Central America
Edited by LoisMeyer and Benjamin Maldonado Alvarado
2010, City Lights Publishers
399 pages

THE KEY issue facing indigenous peoples as they gain new rights and raise their profile within Latin America’s newly democratic states is how to reconcile the cultural inheritance that makes them indigenous with forces that aim to tether them to national identities or unleash upon them the corrosive acculturation implied by globalization. These tensions throw up real and prominent dilemmas for indigenous communities across Latin America: if democratic rights give them the ability to influence state policies, to what extent does the execution of those policies, and the penetration of the state, impact on their traditional affairs and erode their cultural sovereignty? This collection of commentaries – framed by the wisdom of Noam Chomsky – offers an excellent point of departure for the student interested in addressing such questions. With a significant focus on education, the writers address the thorny yet timeless issue of how to reconcile the ancient with the modern. More than 20 activists and intellectuals from indigenous communities in nine Latin American states – at least one of which, Bolivia, has now declared itself ‘plurinational’, that is, a state of several nations – engage with Chomsky’s ideas and advance their own. There are some important names here, including Felipe Quispe and Carlos Mamani, and the editors have done a skilful job weaving together their exchange. If there is one theme that emerges, it is of the potential for inter-communal co-operation and the concrete benefits diversity can bring to Latin American social life. – GO’T

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