Localizing Rebellion – International Development Agencies and the Rising of the Indigenous Movement in Ecuador

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 00:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Philipp ALTMANN, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Ecuador
Between 1990 and the first years of the 2000s -and to a lesser extent until today-, the indigenous movement in Ecuador was without a doubt the strongest social and political actor in the country and one of the strongest of the continent, able not only to destitute two presidents and press for a new constitution (in 1998), but also to change discourse and thinking in society profoundly. This strength was possible due to a decade-long organizational fight on local and regional levels, the establishment of small-scale institutions and the slow development of a coherent and innovative discourse. Even if the main actors always were indigenous persons, international development agencies -state-funded, church-based or NGOs- had decisive influence in this process. In fact, the history of the indigenous movement in Ecuador is also a history of inclusion and expulsion of external agents such as the international development agencies, containing both moments of almost sectarian seclusion and wide and open treaties involving those agencies.

This paper will explore how international development agencies took influence in the organizational and discursive development of the indigenous movement in Ecuador and its organizations. On a structural level, the support for the establishment of indigenous institutions -in education, traditional medicine and development- and the engagement into internal organization processes will be analyzed. Here, the text will focus on concrete actors and their relationship with concrete organizations, the success of their efforts and the general strategy visible behind given actions. On a discursive level, the support of certain political tendencies within the movement -namely, the more ethnicist and less socialist ones- will be interpreted and with it the influence on the diffusion of determinate demands or political concepts. Here, the diffusion of demands for autonomy and of concepts such as interculturality and Good Life will be in focus.