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Negotiating Indigenous Autonomy: Politics, Land, and Religion in Tierradentro (Colombia), 1905-1950

Boza Villarreal, Alejandra (2013) Negotiating Indigenous Autonomy: Politics, Land, and Religion in Tierradentro (Colombia), 1905-1950. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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For decades after Independence more than half of continental Latin America’s territory remained beyond the nascent republics’ control. Indigenous populations inhabited most of these regions, and by the late-nineteenth century the Latin American states started to target them in an effort to secure national borders and consolidate territorial control. With only a few exceptions, states turned to international Christian missionary orders to help them in the “civilization” of these indigenous areas, and by the first decade of the twentieth century the missionaries were active in many of them, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In spite of the missionaries’ widespread presence, there exist only a few studies about the impact they had on the indigenous populations they targeted and on the states’ nation-building projects. This study examines precisely these questions by focusing on the case of Tierradentro, a region in southwestern Colombia inhabited mostly by Nasa Indians, and where Catholic missionaries from the Congregation of the Mission initiated a mission in 1905 that survives until the present.
This dissertation studies the transformations that indigenous authorities underwent in response to the new republican reality, the missionaries’ “civilizing” agenda and the ways in which indigenous demands shaped it, the Indians’ active participation in elections and political parties, their struggles to defend their communal lands, and the negotiation between Catholic and non-Catholic traditions that characterized the Indians’ ritual life. It utilizes documentation produced by the missionaries, local and national authorities, travelers, anthropologists, and the Indians themselves.
This study argues that the Nasa Indians from Tierradentro managed to retain significant levels of political and cultural autonomy not by remaining isolated, but by actively engaging with a wide variety of local, national, and international actors. Starting in the 1970s Indians from Tierradentro and other localities used several of these strategies to build one of the most successful self-identified indigenous movements in Latin America.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Boza Villarreal, Alejandraalb159@pitt.eduALB159
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPutnam, Laralep12@pitt.eduLEP12
Committee MemberDe la Fuente, Alejandrofuente2@pitt.eduFUENTE2
Committee MemberAndrews, George Reidreid1@pitt.eduREID1
Committee MemberKane, Paula M.pmk@pitt.eduPMK
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 February 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 17 March 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 345
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cabildos caciques resguardos Cauca Vincentians Andean Indians
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 18:11
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2018 05:15


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