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Workshop: Within and Without Writing: Definitions of "Indianness" in Latin America from 1492 to the Present

Jul 13, 2017 - Jul 14, 2017


Organizer: Laura Leon-Llerena (Volkswagen Fellow at the Dahlem Humanities Center)

This workshop aims to contribute to an interdisciplinary discussion about the ways in which diverse genres of writing have shaped and contested definitions of indianness and indigeneity in Latin America from 1492 up to present times. Starting with the misnomer indio (Indian) imposed on the diverse peoples that inhabit the American continent, multiple attempts by indigenous and non-native writers to define indianness and indigeneity as racial, social, cultural and political categories have influenced practices and policies of exclusion and integration throughout centuries.

The participants of this workshop examine how written documents ranging from chronicles, legal texts, sermons, and wills, to poems, novels, scientific reports and national constitutions, have dealt with the unstable definitions of indianness and indigeneity. The presentations will address how elements such as language, religion, gender, and cultural practices complicate those definitions. Discussions will also analyze the role of writing in spreading stereotypes, misconceptions, or idealized notions of Indigenous peoples. Writing itself, introduced in the Americas as a tool in the processes of European conquest and colonization, is examined as a key symbolic factor in the imposed or self-fashioned definitions of indianness.

The papers presented in this workshop cover issues that refer to any period from colonial Spanish America to the post-Independence periods. The goal of this workshop’s longue durée approach is to encourage a discussion that moves from historically and case specific cases to a transhistorical comparative analysis.

Professor Mary Weismantel (Northwestern University) will deliver a key-note lecture entitled From Within to Without Writing: Past as Future.

Presentations and discussions will be held in English and Spanish.

The program is available here.

Time & Location

Jul 13, 2017 - Jul 14, 2017

Location: Freie Universität Berlin
Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule für literaturwissenschaftliche Studien
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, room JK 33/121
14195 Berlin