Indigeneity

Authored by: George Hartley

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613

10.4324/9780203097199.ch18

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Abstract

One of the most contested tendencies within Latino/a literature (and culture more generally) involves the focus on the continuance of the indigenous roots of Latino/a identity. To speak of Latino/a indigenous identity, however, is to immediately get involved in what could be seen as at once a redundant and an oxymoronic gesture: the categorical fusion of latinidad and indigeneity. This fusion, which lies at the heart of conceptualizations of mestizaje, points to the tensions underlying uses of latinidad. Whereas the “Latin” of latinidad points to the imaginative construction of an American (hemispheric) identity starting from its European (Spanish) roots, the indigenous turn often involves a rejection of these European roots. The category of indigeneity begins with but works quite differently from that of mestizaje, primarily because the emphasis on indigeneity (the “Indian” half of mestizo identity – the notion of “half” itself often serving to erase the third African “half” of the equation) works explicitly as an anti-colonial strategy in the face of continuing Anglo-American racism towards and exploitation of peoples of Hispanic descent – where “anti-colonial” signals an external strategy of colonized versus colonizer while “decolonial” would refer to internal challenges within a given identity formation (such as an injunction among Chicanos/as to learn Nahuatl). This is especially so when there is a need to counter the Anglo tendency to consider Latinos/as as foreigners within the US, regardless of the citizenship status and/or length of residency of any particular Latino/a.

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