Workshop: Indigenous Urbanisation in Latin America

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University of Sheffield

Room TBC


S3 7RL

United Kingdom

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The workshop will focus on the topic of indigenous urbanisation in Latin America, with emphasis on Bolivia and Brazil.

About this Event

Latin America is characterised by profound ethno-racial divisions which are also manifested in space. Since the colonial conquest, the Latin American city was associated with a specific group of inhabitants – ‘whites’ or people of ‘mixed blood’ – who were granted citizenship rights. In contrast, the countryside was conceived of as the space of the 'Other', home to the ‘non-white’ indigenous, ethno-racially mixed or black population. These groups were denied actual citizenship and excluded from the imagery of the ‘modern’ and ‘developed’ city. Such strict ethno-racial rural-urban divides could never be fully sustained. However, they have been further blurred since the second half of the 20th century, as previously isolated rural indigenous communities and territories have been affected by urbanisation, and indigenous peoples have increasingly participated in rural-urban migratory flows. As a result, by the turn of the millennium, 35 percent of the region’s indigenous population were living in cities – this number is likely to rise to 50 percent by 2030 (UN-Habitat 2010). While a growing indigenous majority lives in urban concrete jungles, mainstream research and practice on indigeneity and indigenous development continues to focus on rural places, often offering an essentialist perspective of indigenous peoples as ‘guardians of the forest’. The combination of being simultaneously ‘urban’ and ‘indigenous’ thus remains a conundrum and largely unaddressed by scholarship.

The workshop will focus on the topic of indigenous urbanisation in Latin America, with emphasis on Bolivia and Brazil, as well as key political, social, economic, spatial, and cultural shifts related with these trends. It will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers in different career stages who will explore, among others, urban reconfigurations of indigenous identities, communities and organisation patterns; the urbanisation of rural communities; the intersectional inequalities faced by indigenous peoples in the city; and the impacts of social and spatial mobility over understandings of urban indigeneity.

- Programme -

09:00-09:15 | Welcome and Introduction by the Organisers

09:15-10:15 | Keynote

“Is Black to Indigenous as Race is to Ethnicity? And the Role of the Urban in the Equation.”

(Peter Wade, University of Manchester)

10:15-10:30 | Coffee Break

10:30-12:00 | Panel I: Urban Indigenous Politics in South-East Brazil

Law 11.645/08: implementation of indigenous history and culture in non-indigenous school curricula

(Gudrun Klein, University of Manchester)

Ciclo Sagrado de Mulheres: Indigenous Feminist Activism

(Jennifer Chisholm, University of Cambridge)

Urban and indigenous in the Americas: Connecting North and South

(Desiree Poets, Virginia Tech)

12:00-13:00 | Lunch

13:00-14:30 | Panel II: Urban Indigenous Reconfigurations: Lessons from Bolivia

Urbanisation and indigenous identity in Rural Andean Bolivia

(Jonathan Alderman, ILAS, University of London)

Envisioning gender, indigeneity and urban change in La Paz, Bolivia

(Kate Maclean, Birkbeck, University of London)

Indigenous development alternatives: A youth perspective from three urban places in Bolivia

(Philipp Horn, University of Sheffield)

14:30-15:00 | Coffee Break

15:00-16:30 | Panel III: Intersections, Mobilities and Urban Indigeneities

Capitalising indigeneity or indigenous capitalism? The dynamic of popular market places in El Alto

(Angus McNelly, Queen Mary, University of London)

From sateré-mawé villages to urban “family homes”: gender, indigeneity and technologies of housework in the city of Manaus, Brazil

(Ana Luisa Sertã, Birkbeck, University of London)

Within and against indigeneity: narratives of social and spatial mobility amongst Bolivian market women in São Paulo, Brazil

(Aiko Ikemura Amaral, University of Essex)

16:30-17:30 | Conclusions & Next Steps


Philipp Horn (University of Sheffield):

Aiko Ikemura Amaral (University of Essex):

Desiree Poets (Virginia Tech):

This workshop is funded by the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) Events Grant, the Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA) and the University of Sheffield’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

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University of Sheffield

Room TBC


S3 7RL

United Kingdom

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