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Indigenismo and Indians in C20th Latin America (Guy Thomson)

In the early 20th Century elites throughout Latin America turned to the Indian populations as a source for constructing a more culturally inclusive sense of national identity. This preoccupation with the Indian – “indigenismo” - took different forms in different national and regional contexts.

This seminar will explore indigenista ideas and projects and indigenous responses in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia.




Rebecca Earle, Ch.7 "Indigenismo: The Return of the Native ?" The Return of the Native Indians and Myth-Making in Spanish America, 1810-1930 pp.184-212



David Brading, “Manuel Gamio and Official Indigenismo in Mexico” Bulletin of Latin American Research, 1988, Vol.7, 75-9.

Benjamin Smith, 'Inventing Tradition at Gunpoint: State Formation and Local Autonomy in Oaxaca, 1930-1940' , Bulletin of Latin American Research, 27:2 (April 2008), pp. 215-34.

Stephen E Lewis, “The Nation, Education, and the ‘Indian Problem’ in Mexico, 1920-1940”, in Mary Kay Vaughan and Stephen E Lewis, The Eagle and the Virgin Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920-1940 Duke, 2006, 176-195.

Stephen Lewis, “A Window into the Recent Past in Chiapas: Federal Education and Indigenismo in the Highlands, 1921-1940” The Journal of Latin American Anthropology Vol.6, No.1, 2001, 59-83.

Alexander Dawson “From Models for the Nation to Model Citizens: Indigenismo and ‘Revindication’ of the Mexican Indian, 1920-40’ Journal of Latin American Studies, 1998, 30, 279-308.

Alexander Dawson, “ ‘Wild Indian’, ‘Mexican Gentlemen’ and the Lessons Learned in the Casa del Estudiante Indígena, 1926-1932”, The Americas - Volume 57, Number 3, January 2001, pp. 329-361

Alexander Dawson, Indian and Nation in Revolutionary Mexico

Rick Lopez, “The India Bonita Contest of 1921 and the Ethnicization of Mexican National Culture” Hispanic American Historical Review Vol 82, 2002

For the debate over the “Indian” aesthetic: Rick Lopez “The Noche Mexican and the Exhibition of Popular Arts: Two Ways of Exalting Indianness” in Mary Kay Vaughan and Lewis, The Eagle and the Virgin pp.23-43

Frances Karttunen, “Images in Paint, Pictures in Words: Doña Luz Jiménez (ca.1895-1965)” in Frances Karttunen, Between Worlds Interpreters, Guides and Survivors 1994, pp.192-21, 241-247,

Aida Hernandez Castillo, Histories and Stories from Chiapas Border Identities in Southern Mexico read Ch 1, “ The Post-Revolutionary National project and the Mexicanisation of the Mam People”

Cynthia Hewitt de Alcantara, Anthropological perspectives on rural Mexico 1984, pp.8-41


Virginia Garrard-Burnett, “Indians are drunks and drunks are Indians: alcohol and indigenismo in Guatemala, 1890-1940”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2000, Vol.19, No.3, 341-356

Greg Grandin “Can the Subaltern be Seen ? Photography and the Effects of Nationalism,” Hispanic American Historical Review 84, 2004, 83-111

Rachel Sieder, “Paz, Progreso, Justicia y Honradez. Law and Citizenship in Alta Verapaz during the regime of Jorge Ubico” Bulletin of Latin American Research, 19, 2000, 283-301

Ch.1 “A Seditious Life”, in Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War for the beginnings of “modern” political leadership among Indians.


Deborah Poole, Vision, Race and Modernity A Visual Economy of the Andean World Ch.7, “The New Indians”, 168-194.

Marisol de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919-1991 especially Chs. 1 & 2.



Brooke Larson, “Capturing Indian Bodies: the Gendered Politics of Rural School Reform in Bolivia, 1900-1952”, in Proclaiming revolution : Bolivia in comparative perspective edited by Merilee Grindle and Pilar Domingo.

Ann Zulawski, “Hygiene and the ‘Indian Problem’: Ethnicity and Medicine in Bolivia, 1910-1920” Bulletin of Latin American Research 2000, Vol.35, 108-29.

Laura Gotkowiz, A Revolution for Our Rights Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880-1952 Ch. 2 “Indigenista Statecraft and the Rise of the Caciques Apoderados”

E. Gabrielle Kuenzli, “Acting Inca: The Parameters of National Belonging in Early Twentieth-Century Bolivia” Hispanic American Historical Review 2010, 90(2):247-281

Brooke Larson, “Redeemed Indians, Barbarised Cholos Crafting Neo-Colonial Modernity in Liberal Bolivia, 1900-1910”, in Nils Jacobsen, Political Cultures in the Andes, 1750-1950 pp.230-252