The «authorized indigenous» and the «unauthorized indigenous»: paradoxical categories collaterally produced in Ecuadorian cultural rights discourse

Stephanie León Calle, Ana Karen Poveda-Bustillos


Throughout history, the status of «indian» as a category was constructed from a position of power, with colonial burocracy experts that were in charge of establishing who was or was not considered «indian». Currently, the criteria for the recognition of indigenous people’s rights is cultural difference. Both, the international and the Ecuadorian legislation, establish that the method for the identification is self-definition. These rights that allow to differentiate are accompanied by a model of official alterity that has been based on the construction of stereotypes (the indigenous must dre5ss, speak and dance traditionally). The difficulties that accompany the criteria of self-definition in Ecuador are glimpsed, showing that no matter which method is used to define and to identify, they are subject to the essentialization of culture and to reproducing the official model of the indigenous being. As a consequence, this gives place to stereotyped dichotomies of the hegemonic discourse that could be referred as who’s to be the «authorized indigenous» and or who’s to be the «unauthorized indigenous».

Received: 19 June 2018
Accepted: 11 November 2018
Published online: 11 December 2018


cultural essentialism; cultural policies; self-identification; indigenous people; cultural rights; patrimonialistic culture

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