The term indigenismo encompasses a diverse array of intellectual production concerning the indigenous peoples of Latin America. The twentieth century in particular witnessed an explosion of literary, critical, and visual work on the figure of the Indian. It should be made clear from the outset that the term, although most closely associated with Mexico and Guatemala and especially with the Andean region during the first half of the twentieth century, is applicable to Latin America's diverse nations and histories, including those not typically viewed as influenced by indigenismo. This broad geographical and historical scope stems from the wide appeal of indigenismo's central, self-declared objective: the defense and vindication of the continent's indigenous peoples. This objective distinguishes indigenismo from idyllic and idealized representations of the Indian with which Latin American cultural history is rife, as evidenced by, for example, Romanticisminflected Indianist works of the nineteenth century. Indianism tended to portray the Indian in a sentimental light and did not address the social plight of indigenous peoples in modern Latin America. Cumandá (1879) by Ecuador's Juan León Mera (1832–1894) illustrates Indianism's tendency to portray the Indians as part of an idealized past and thus to ignore their contemporary presence.
In contrast to Indianism, indigenismo defines itself through its critical stance vis-à-vis the dominant society that exploits and debases indigenous peoples and their cultures. Clearly, this perspective has not been unique to modernity. Indigenismo finds foundational antecedents in the accounts of figures such as Bartolomé de las Casas (1474–1566) and el Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539–1616), who, respectively, denounced the ills visited upon Indians by the Spanish colonizers and praised the integrity and complexity of the Inca Empire in the face of accusations of its barbarity. Other sympathetic works on the Indian can be found in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Clorinda Matto de Turner's (1854–1909) Aves sin nido (1889; Birds without a nest) and Narciso Aréstegui's (1818–1892) El Padre Horán (1848). The critic Efraín Kristal considered the latter to be the first indigenista work. These works evidence the outrage typical of indigenista works as well as their authors' willingness to challenge such structures of authority as the church and the government. Thus, the vindication of the Indian through the indictment of social and political institutions was already in place at least as early as the mid-nineteenth century. Later indigenistas were equally in debt to figures such as Manuel González Prada (1848–1918) who was the first, in works such as "Discurso en el Politeama" (1888; Speech in the Politeama), to call for social revolt in order to rectify the abuses committed against the indigenous peoples.
The 1920s and 1930s
While indigenismo should and must be contextualized among the many discourses on the Indian produced during the colonial and Republican periods, its defining moment occurs with the explosion of voices on indigenous matters in the 1920s and 1930s. The movement's seminal novels, such as Alcides Arguedas's (1879–1946) Raza de bronce (1919; Bronze race), Jorge Icaza's (1906–1978) Huasipungo (1934), and Ciro Alegría's (1909–1967) El mundo es ancho y ajeno (1941; Broad and alien is the world), should nevertheless not overshadow the significant and arguably as important critical and scholarly production on the Indian in the same period. Works such as José Carlos Mariátegui's (1894–1930) Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928; Seven interpretative essays on Peruvian reality), Pío Jaramillo Alvarado's (1884–1968) El indio ecuatoriano (1936; The Ecuadorian Indian), Hildebrando Castro Pozo's (1890–1945) Nuestra comunidad indígena (1924; Our indigenous community), and José Vasconcelos's (1882–1959) Indología (1926) purported to study "the indigenous question" in a scientific light. These critical works, perhaps more so than their aesthetic counterparts, reveal the ways in which the importation and acquisition of foreign theoretical models fomented new perspectives on the indigenous problem and thereby offered novel solutions. Marxism, for example, played a central role in giving the defense of the Indian a distinctly revolutionary flavor. On the whole, novelistic, poetic, and critical discourses on the Indian had a profound impact on social and political movements, such as the APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana) in Peru and the Mexican Revolution, which sought to challenge the standing political and social order. A full study of the impact of the indigenista project on Latin American politics remains to be carried out. It should also be noted that the indigenistas were generally not progressive in terms of gender and that in fact most indigenismo is rife with stereotypical representations of femininity and masculinity.
Though extraordinary, the life of José Carlos Mariátegui (1894–1930) illustrates the contradictions that riddle indigenismo. Impoverished mestizos from the provinces, the young Mariátegui and his family emigrated to Lima, Peru's capital city, in hopes of bettering their social condition. Having dropped out of grade school in order to work, the crippled Mariátegui rose to prominence within the growing journalism industry with virtually no formal education. He did not turn his full attention to the problem of the Indian until his return from Europe in 1923, when he famously stated that his exile had allowed him to see Peru for the first time. This vision, filtered through his study of Marxism, led to his groundbreaking Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928; reprint. Mexico: Era, 1993), in which he declared:
la literatura indigenista no puede darnos una versión rigurosamente verista del indio. Tiene que idealizarlo y estilizarlo. Tampoco puede darnos su propia ánima. Es todavía una literatura de mestizos. Por eso se llama indigenista y no indígena. Una literatura indígena, si debe venir, vendrá en su tiempo. Cuando los propios indios estén en grado de producirla. [indigenista literature cannot give us a rigorously truthful version of the Indian. It has to idealize and stylize him. Nor can it give us his own soul. It is still a literature made by mestizos. That is why it is called indigenista and not indigenous. An indigenous literature, if it is to come, will come when it is ready. When the Indians themselves have the capacity to produce it.] (p. 306)
Conscious of his place within this dynamic, Mariátegui facilitated the forging of an indigenous voice through his publication of Labor, (1928–1929) a paper for the working class, and through his encouragement of indigenous self-organization.
The Uruguayan critic Angel Rama has presented the most compelling analysis of the social dynamics behind the effervescence of indigenismo in the 1920s and 1930s. In his seminal Transculturación narrativa en América Latina (1982; Narrative transculturation in Latin America), largely concerned with the problem of representing autochthony in the region, Rama argues that the indigenismo of this period is in fact a product of the rise of the mestizo middle classes to power. In Rama's scheme of things, indigenismo is a kind of Trojan horse that, while addressing authentic social concerns regarding the Indian, nevertheless makes inroads against the dominant land-owning oligarchies to the benefit of mestizos—persons of mixed European and American Indian ancestry—and not especially the indigenous peoples. This observation reveals a crucial feature of indigenismo that has been taken for granted by most criticism, although notably not that of Mariátegui and his interlocutor Luis Alberto Sánchez (1900–1994). It demonstrates that while indigenismo claims to speak of the Indian's plight, it is in fact a phenomenon that occurs almost entirely within the majority mestizo culture of the continent. In the end, then, indigenismo benefits what Rama calls mesticismo, or the empowerment of the mestizo.
This observation rests primarily on the cultural and social heterogeneity that undergirds indigenismo. Indigenismo's mode of production reiterates the paradox at the center of the indigenistas' intellectual production: through its expression in the dominant language and culture, it tends to exclude those very subjects it represents. As such, indigenismo should be viewed less as a window on the indigenous people of Latin America and more as a complex example of how intellectuals have imagined alterity, or otherness, in the continent. Indigenista production can and must be read against the grain, as it certainly provides a vast and detailed portrait of the urban mestizo middle classes at the beginning and throughout much of the twentieth century. Indeed, the more recent writers in the indigenistra tradition, including Rosario Castellanos (1925–1974), Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974), and José María Arguedas (1911–1969), have since 1950 transformed the indigenista vision into one that increasingly considers the role of indigenous culture in relation to mestizo society.
See also Mestizaje .
Aquézolo Castro, Manuel, ed. La polémica del indigenismo. Lima: Mosca Azul, 1976.
Cornejo Polar, Antonio. Literatura y sociedad en el Perú: La novela indigenista. Lima: Lasontay, 1980.
Kristal, Efraín. The Andes Viewed from the City: Literary and Political Discourse on the Indian in Peru (1848–1930). New York: Lang, 1987.
Mariátegui, José Carlos. Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality. Translated by Marjory Urquidi. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.
Rama, Angel. Transculturación narrativa en América Latina. Hanover, N.H.: Ediciones del Norte, 1982.
"Indigenismo." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/indigenismo
"Indigenismo." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/indigenismo
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Broadly defined, indigenismo (Spanish, “indianism”) refers to the representation of indigenous peoples (indígenas in Spanish) in Latin America by outsiders (called indigenistas ). It is a uniquely American phenomenon, and its origins are inextricably bound together with debates on the question of how colonized indigenous peoples should be treated. Its importance as a philosophical aspect of Latin American thought dates to the beginnings of European attempts to subdue the aboriginal inhabitants of the American continent in the late fifteenth century. It reached its high point in the early twentieth century in countries with high concentrations of indigenous peoples, particularly Mexico and Peru. Although its characteristics changed over time, indigenismo always presented a critique of indigenous issues from an elite, educated, urban perspective rather than from that of the indigenous peoples.
The Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas (1484–1566) presented the earliest articulate defense of indigenous rights from a European perspective. But he retained loyalty to the Catholic Church and to the Spanish Crown, and ultimately the purpose of his efforts was for the conversion of indigenous peoples to Christianity and their assimilation into the Spanish kingdom.
Modern indigenismo first emerged in the nineteenth century and was characterized by romantic and humanitarian impulses. This indigenista discourse came to be dominated by intellectuals who were strongly influenced by Spencerian positivist thought meant to assimilate the surviving indigenous peoples in the Americas into a dominant Spanish or Portuguese culture. Indigenismo particularly gained strength in Mexico in the aftermath of the 1910 revolution because it embraced the country’s glorious indigenous past while assimilating their descendants into a unified mestizo nation.
By the 1920s indigenismo had become a form of protest against the injustices that Indians faced. Political parties, especially populist ones, began to exploit indigenista ideologies for political gain. Indigenismo flourished in the 1930s, particularly in Peru and Mexico, and in the 1950s it was institutionalized in the Guatemalan and Bolivian revolutions. With officialization, indigenismo lost its revolutionary potential to improve the lives of Indians. Elite mestizo intellectuals and leftist political leaders led this movement, which they often used only to advance their own political agendas.
Indigenismo often emerged out of anthropological and archaeological studies. Manuel Gamio (1883–1960) was both a pioneer anthropologist and indigenista in Mexico who reconstructed archaeological sites for tourists, including Teotihuacán north of Mexico City. Although indigenistas proudly championed the ancient Aztec and Inca civilizations, they often ignored or discounted their present-day descendants.
Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui is one of the best-known indigenista intellectuals. In Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality (1928), Mariátegui criticized various strategies that others had employed to improve the lives of indigenous peoples, including humanitarian campaigns, administrative policies, and legal reforms. He argued that their problems were rooted instead in the nature of the land-tenure system, and that only through fundamental economic change and land reform would social improvements be possible. Mariátegui was an indigenista in the classical sense in that he was an urban mestizo intellectual who had little contact with Peru’s indigenous peoples, but he did not portray the worst elements of paternalism and assimilation common to indigenismo.
Indigenismo was also represented in literature, particularly in well-known novels such as Jorge Icaza’s Huasipungo (1934) in Ecuador or Rosario Castellanos’s Balún-Canán (1957) in Mexico. Typically, such novels focused on the oppression of poor indigenous agricultural workers at the hands of large landholders, depicting indígenas as primitive and ignorant people who are unable to improve their lives without outside assistance. The solution, when one is offered, is that through education they might be elevated and assimilated into the dominant culture; rarely are indigenous cultures recognized as valuable and worthy of protection. In art, the paintings by the Mexican artists Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) and Diego Rivera (1886–1957) utilized indigenous themes to advance their leftist political ideologies.
In 1940 the Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas (1895–1970) organized the First Inter-American Indigenist Congress at Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán. Delegates were anthropologists and sociologists as well as religious workers and high government officials such as John Collier, the architect of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Indian policy in the United States. The Pátzcuaro Congress broke from colonialist thought, but its tone was still integrationalist. The Instituto Indigenista Interamericano (III, Inter-American Indigenist Institute) that emerged out of the Pátzcuaro Congress was based in Mexico City, and Gamio served as its first director. The III held congresses about every five years, and indigenistas formed national branches in many of the American republics. In addition to publishing the journals América Indigenista (later renamed Anuario Indigenista ) and Boletín Indigenista, the III became an official organ of the Organization of American States (OAS).
In 1971 eleven anthropologists gathered in Barbados for the Symposium on Inter-Ethnic Conflict in South America. Their Declaration of Barbados demanded the liberation of indigenous peoples from colonial domination, specifically calling for the defense of indigenous culture and territory, the establishment of economic, social, educational, and health assistance, and support for a native-led pan–Latin American movement for self-government.
As indigenous peoples began to build their own organizations, they presented a sustained critique of indigenismo as a construction of the dominant culture, a paternalistic impulse designed to stop liberation movements. Indigenous peoples criticized academics who studied their cultures without returning any political benefits to their communities. Rather than letting outsiders appropriate indigenous cultures and concerns for their own purposes, indigenous leaders insisted that they could represent themselves. Particularly strong indigenous political movements emerged in countries with relatively weak indigenista traditions such as Ecuador and Guatemala. By the end of the twentieth century indigenous leaders had created a neoindigenismo that advanced their own political agendas.
SEE ALSO Indigenous Rights; Natives
Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. 1996. Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Castellanos, Rosario.  1992. Balún-Canán [Nine guardians]. Trans. Irene Nicholson. London: Readers International.
Dawson, Alexander S. 2004. Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Díaz Polanco, Héctor. 1997. Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: The Quest for Self-Determination. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Graham, Richard, ed. 1990. The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Icaza, Jorge.  1973. Huasipungo [The Villagers]. Trans. Bernard Dulsey. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Mariátegui, José Carlos.  1971. Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality. Austin: University of Texas Press.
"Indigenismo." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/indigenismo
"Indigenismo." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/indigenismo
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Indigenismo is a multi-faceted cultural and social phenomenon. From the colonial period to the present, there have been different views on the situation the indigenous populations of Latin America confronted and still confront in its struggles for recognition. From the political perspective, the tension between ethnic identity and class identity has been a constant presence in the history of Latin American indigenismo. During the colonial era, ethnic identity was part of a social stratification by caste; after the region's independence from Spain, social stratification, and hence the concept of social class, tended to subsume ethnic identities. The modernizing projects implemented in the first half of the twentieth century attempted to create a homogeneous national identity as the political-cultural complement to the process of capitalist integration and to the development of the modern nationstate.
In the early twentieth century, political indigenismo attempted to create class awareness among the indigenous peasants through unions and alliances between political parties and indigenous movements. In the second half of the twentieth century, many constituent social groups of the national identity demanded separate rights along with their own identity and history, prompting the breakdown of the modernizing movement and the revaluation of ethnicity as an element of political participation. The recognition of territory and local issues became the fundamental axis of the indigenous movement and its relationship to the state. With the adoption of the neoliberal socioeconomic model in the 1980s, state policy began to promote multiculturalism—hence shaping the political-cultural dynamic of the indigenous movement.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Peruvian indigenismo abandoned its focus on local customs and manners, known as costumbrismo. Instead, indigenista intellectuals produced a series of works on the marginalization and exploitation of the peasant and indigenous population. When the railroad reached Cuzco, intellectuals and businessmen of that Andean city, seeking to remove what they saw as a significant obstacle to modernization, began to reconceive the role of the indigenous population and the large landowner class within the new economic situation. The objective of this early-twentieth-century indigenismo was to transform the indigenous peasant into a modern worker and citizen, a consumer of the products of incipient industry. To counter the national discourse, which devalued the Andean region and considered Lima the cradle of the modern nation, Cuzco intellectuals, through the university and the press, promoted Inca culture and the indigenous population.
Peasant movements were a constant presence in the Andean region of Peru in the early twentieth century. A strong official indigenismo developed during the second presidential term of Augusto B. Leguía (1919–1930) and indigenous rights organizations, Patronato de la Raza Indígena and Comité Pro-derecho Indígena Tahuantinsuyo, were created. These organizations convened several indigenous congresses attended by such national intellectuals as José Carlos Mariátegui and Pedro Zulen. Between 1918 and 1923, the press reported extensively on peasant mobilizations, bringing to light problems such as border disputes between haciendas and indigenous communities, the appropriation of land and livestock, and serf-like labor relations—all problems that were exacerbated by the expansion of business capital in the Peruvian Andes in the late nineteenth century. Within this context, the majority of the Cuzco indigenists believed the solution to the indigenous problem was to promote small farm ownership and to liquidate the large estates. For their part, the indigenous movements developed their own organizations and resistance strategies, including sit-down strikes on the haciendas, and the development of cooperatives to finance their activities. Movement leaders had either to cooperate or compete with the official indigenismo of the government and of the regional intellectuals, which produced a struggle on several fronts to control the peasant mobilizations. Despite this history of indigenous unrest, a strong contemporary indigenous movement did not arise in Peru, largely because of the strong centralism of Lima. At first the state and then the Shining Path guerrilla movement took over representation of indigenous peoples. The emergence in 2000 of the nationalist/indigenist etnocacerista political movement has not changed the isolation of the Peruvian indigenous movement.
After Ecuador's independence, internal colonialism and the socioeconomic system of the haciendas continued to determine the relationship between the indigenous communities and the state. These phenomena promoted a paternalistic integration of the peasant-indigenous sectors through an asymmetrical reciprocity and a patronage system. The "pact" between the landowner class and the communities became the model by which the state and society viewed and treated the indigenous people. Early on the state also promoted a process of racial mixing, characterized by the subordinate assimilation of the indigenous people into the dominant culture. This paternalism allowed some reforms under liberal regimes, such as payment of debts contracted through the labor relationship and redistribution of Church lands. Liberals on the Ecuadorian coast supported reforms, linked to an expanding global economy, that promoted remaking the serf-like peasant into a "free" worker. The state proclaimed itself the "protector" and "modernizer" of indigenous people. Despite these reforming intentions, the state did not confront the hegemony of the landowner class until the hacienda system began to decline around the mid-twentieth century. Only with the indigenous rebellion of 1990 has the state's representation of indigenous people—which has been characterized as "ventriloquism"—begun to break down. A key factor in this process of change has been the move from a peasant identity based on a class scheme to one based on ethnicity.
In 1930 the Communist Party founded an indigenous union organization that reinstated communal land ownership. Subsequently there was an alliance between the Left and the indigenous movements, and legislation was passed that allowed indigenous communities legally to register themselves and receive certain rights. Although this legislation took into account the cultural particularities of the indigenous people, ultimately it conceived of community political structure simply as a transitional stage toward other, more "modern" forms of political participation; thus it reproduced a colonialist outlook that assumes indigenous people are backward and lack initiative. In reality, the modernizing notion anticipated the cultural disappearance of indigenous people. Nevertheless, modernization in the countryside produced massive migration to the cities, where newly created ways of "being Indian" contributed fundamentally to the creation of ethnically based political movements. The dialogue between indigenous activists of the Andes and the Amazon basin produced a common ideology. This ethnic identity developed in parallel with the formation of alliances between worker and peasant unions, although these unions frequently labeled the ethnic philosophy as racist or divisive. During the reformist military regime of Rodríguez Lara (1972–1977) and the reformist constitutional administration of Jaime Roldós and Osvaldo Hurtado (1980–1984), opportunities arose for indigenous organizations along with an acknowledgment of Ecuador's ethnic and cultural pluralism. The rhetoric of multiculturalism that arose with neoliberalism encouraged the process, leading to the creation of the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador; CONAIE), an entity uniting the country's diverse indigenous nationalities. The idea of a plurinational state would become central to this organization's ideology, with a more heterogeneous ethnic discourse less oriented toward the state.
In Bolivia the corporatist state was for many years the main enemy of the indigenous movement, which was aligned with the revolutionary ideology of the Left. In contrast to Ecuador, in Bolivia the hacienda system was not dominant until the turn of the twentieth century. However, the republican state promoted agrarian reforms that increased serf-like labor relationships on the haciendas. At the same time, the state could not do without the indigenous tax and so established a pact with peasant communities that created opportunities for political autonomy on the local level. In 1899 the indigenous Aymara were vital to the liberals' triumph in their civil war with the conservatives, but this did not lead to a state policy of inclusion.
Struggles over land produced an indigenous movement that, between 1910 and 1930, restored the colonial titles to communal lands. After Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War in 1935, new political parties were formed and an "Indianist" ideology developed among indigenous leaders and elite intellectuals. Several indigenous congresses in the 1940s proposed alliances between indigenous peasants and the workers' movement in the cities. In the countryside, indigenous organizations promoted sit-down strikes and indigenous activist-intellectual groups promoted an ethnically based political ideology. This mobilization was violently repressed between 1946 and 1952. The Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (Revolutionary Nationalist Movement; MNR) united the sectors opposed to the oligarchy and led the April Rebellion of 1952 that installed a nationalist administration.
The new government adopted a model of development that took for granted the colonial outlook, in which everything European or Western was the model and everything mixed-race and indigenous was to be integrated. State reforms and the creation of state peasant organizations produced a process of de-ethnicization and promoted the label of peasant (campesino) instead of "Indian." During the right-wing dictatorship of General Hugo Bánzer (1971–1978), an indigenous movement arose that sought to free itself of state sponsorship and to form alliances based on ethnic identity. The massive peasant-indigenous migration to the cities (as to El Alto in La Paz) produced a group of indigenist activists and intellectuals, thanks in part to access to university education.
The period 1970–1986 was also pivotal in the formation of the ethnic identity of rural workers. The creation of Bolivia's confederation of peasant workers (Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia; CSUTCB) broke the state's monopoly on unionism, and Katarista ideology arose. Making use of the legend of eighteenth-century Aymara rebel Tupaj Katari, indigenous intellectuals constructed an ideology that blended discourses of race/ethnicity, nation, and class but gave priority to the racial-ethnic aspect. With the return to liberal democracy in 1982 and the establishment of neoliberalism, multicultural discourse gained supremacy on the political stage. Lowland indigenous organizations began to emerge in 1990. Bolivia's western indigenous council, Central de Indígenas del Oriente de Bolivia, found allies in nongovernmental organizations; their main adversaries were mining and agroindustrial businesspeople rather than the state itself. Evo Morales Ayma, an indigenous leader of coca farmers, entered union leadership during the same period and, using an eclectic political discourse, was elected president of the republic in 2005.
For Mexican social scientist Francisco Pimentel in 1864, the segregation of the Indian race was mainly due to the Indian's spiritual distance from society, and he proposed an ideal of national unity. For many intellectuals, the origins of the segregation of Indians lay in the Spanish conquest of the New World. In the opinion of the historian and politician Francisco Bulnes in 1899, independence was a struggle by the oppressed indigenous people against the European exploiter. It is only one step from this notion of race to that of social class. For Andrés Molina Enríquez in 1909, notions of race and class were mutually implicating, proposing a social classification for the country that mixed the ethnic components and the inherently economic and social elements. Bulnes blamed the conservative parties for the situation of indigenous people and believed they had held on to power by isolating the Indians. In this view liberalism, which represented the small, nascent bourgeoisie and championed industrialization and democratic revolution, was in a struggle against the reactionary landowner classes.
Liberalism's championing of indigenous communities was not purely philanthropic or ideological but in part pragmatic: liberals wanted the indigenous peasant as a political ally. Molina Enríquez is very open about this political interest. Between the national, landowner, or capitalist classes and the indigenous peasant class is a group that Molina called mestizo, which fought to gain the power of the state. Allied to a national party, mestizos entered government with the presidency of Benito Juárez, himself an indigenous national, in 1858, and have maintained a nominal leadership role in state bureaucracy ever since. However, it is a new national group, formed by elites linked to British and U.S. capital, that actually holds economic and political power. That elite group supported the regime of Porfirio Díaz, while the mestizo group allied itself with the indigenous peasants to take on the Porfirio Diaz regime in the Revolution of 1910.
Pimentel suggested that the Indian should abandon his system of communal ownership and acquire the habit of private ownership, becoming a small rural landowner without attacking the landowner interests. Molina Enríquez shared this opinion, but instead of protecting the interests of landowners, he proposed an agrarianism that supported peasant farmers. Despite the differences between Pimentel and Molina, both argued that Indians must recognize the mestizos through their labor. But this recognition is not reciprocal, because the Indian race is only the means for the realization of racial blending known as mestizaje, and also for establishing the concept of "cosmic race" (a homogeneous mixed race in which every racial trait conflates) as the official indigenist ideology of the state. In the 1950s, Manuel Gamio, a sociologist working for indigenista state institutions, proposed an indigenism with social leanings that is, in fact, only accidentally indigenism because it has to do with the liberation of the oppressed of any race. In the 1980s, particularly with the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, studies appeared emphasizing the cultural diversity of the Mexican national territory and exploring the ethnic dimension of sociopolitical identities.
See alsoBulnes, Francisco; Díaz, Porfirio; Gamio Martínez, Manuel; Indianismo; Indianismo, Spanish America; Indian Policy, Brazil; Indigenous Languages; Indigenous Organizations; Instituto Nacional Indigenista; Juárez, Benito; Leguía, Augusto Bernardino; Literature: Spanish America; Mariátegui, José Carlos; Molina Enríquez, Andrés; Zulen, Pedro S., [and] Dora Mayer de Zulen.
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"Indigenismo." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/indigenismo
"Indigenismo." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/indigenismo