Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Barbarita Lara-Calderon (CONAMUNE-CARCHI)
Debates on the dilemmas faced by Black social movements under multiculturalist reforms in Latin America emphasize institutionalization as one of the principal forms of political engagement between Afro-mobilizations and the state; although authors disagree on whether cooptation is unavoidable, or institutionalization opens up new paths for local contestation and political transformation. Drawing on perspectives focusing on the anthropology of the state and on critical race theory, I will discuss how Afro women’s organizations are navigating institutional spaces to advance their own collective goals against racism and violence in contemporary Ecuador. Focusing on the experiences of Afro women leaders and political agents who are members of the organization CONAMUNE, I ethnographically show how Afro women’s organizations of the northern Ecuadorian provinces of Carchi and Imbabura are finding ways to challenge state exclusionary and racist political projects. Afro women leaders are embracing decolonial and diasporic perspectives to make claims for intercultural policies not only to visibilize Afro populations within the hegemonic mestizo cultural and political landscape of Ecuador, but also to articulate claims for a sovereign ancestral territory. In this process they challenge hegemonic ideas about the Ecuadorian nation as they imagine a new racial political community in the northern highlands of the country. My political ethnography approach suggests that Afro women’s organizations challenge the binary liberal logic of state/non state divisions, as their political practices and discourses aim to create interstitial spaces from which to propose forms of solidarity to address the ongoing production of racial inequality.