My Land is Cayambe:
The Roots of Ecuador's Modern Indian Movement
This book examines changes in ethnic identities class consciousness within rural movements for social change in Ecuador during the twentieth century. I explore how popular organizations engaged class and ethnic ideologies in order to influence strategies of political mobilization among Indigenous and peasant peoples. Although ethnicity has come to dominate current Indigenous political discourse, I have discovered that historically the rural masses defended their basic class interests, especially those related to material concerns such as land, wages and work, while simultaneously embracing an ideology of ethnicity. My research challenges traditional and commonly held interpretations which contend that urban leftists and class politics are inimical to the goals of rural Indigenous peoples. I demonstrate that in the 1920s and 1930s rural and urban social movements in Ecuador shared common interests, and these interactions helped determine the nature of ethnic organizational strategies today. Rather than being contradictory, ethnic and class analyses converged in the construction of new forms of Indigenous identities which were necessary to confront critical issues in twentieth-century Ecuador.
This interpretation of intersecting forms of identity is grounded in a case study of historical developments in the canton of Cayambe in the northern Ecuadorian highlands. Beginning in the 1920s Indians in Cayambe began to understand that fundamental structural changes in society were the only way to improve their situation. Cayambe became a staging ground which influenced political strategies and identities throughout Ecuador and the rest of Latin America. Moving from narrow, local revolts to broad organizational efforts for societal change represented a profound ideological shift which marks the birth of Ecuador's modern Indian movement.
An examination of how these early movements developed and operated elucidates the emergence of subsequent Indigenous organizations. I trace this history from the formation of the first Indigenous sindicatos (peasant unions) in Cayambe in 1926, through strike activity in the 1930s, the establishment of the Ecuadorian Federation of Indians (FEI) in 1944, and constant agitation which finally led to the passage of an agrarian reform law in 1964. Finally, I reflect on the legacy of this history for current Indian movements. This story reveals the demands of Indigenous movements, the organizational strategies which Indians implemented to achieve those goals, and the influence which this history had on the political construction of new forms of identity. In turn, changes in identity had a very real impact on the values, demands, and organizational strategies of movements for social change.
This book analyzes changes in identity which accompanied these shifts in organizational strategies. In order to effect fundamental social, political, and economic changes, Indigenous organizations found it necessary to enter into strategic alliances with leftist groups. The anthropological and historical literature has interpreted this development as a western intrusion into traditional community structures with a resulting disruption of Indigenous lifestyles and corruption of ethnic identity. I demonstrate that the current Indigenous movement in Ecuador has its roots in leftist organizational efforts, and that its character must be understood as an integral part of that history. In fact, it is the nature and content of that relationship with the left which has led to Ecuador witnessing the strongest Indigenous movement in Latin America in the 1990s.
I weave the roles of leadership, institutions, ideologies, economics, class relations and basic values concerning land and community into a complex cultural history to interpret the formation of ethnic ideologies and nationalist thought in twentieth-century Ecuador. My study presents new empirical information on Ecuadorian ethnic consciousness and contributes important theoretical insights into the formation of Indigenous ideologies and the role of nationalism in political mobilization and ethnic conflicts. Through an analysis of Indigenous perceptions of Ecuadorian state formation and their attitudes toward state power, I have concluded that Indigenous peoples in Ecuador have proven to be highly capable of creating new forms of identity and political alliances. Rather than being contradictory, ethnic, class, and nationalist forms of identity have converged in the construction of new forms of Indigenous identities which were necessary to confront critical issues in twentieth-century Ecuador.
Market and Competition
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of my research, this book will interest scholars in a wide range of fields. Recent Indigenous organizing efforts in Ecuador have triggered intense debates among anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists in issues of identity politics and organizational strategies within these movements. My work gives a historical dimension to these studies. There is no similar work which covers the historical scope and issues addressed in this book. It will provide scholars working on contemporary issues a much-needed historical background for their investigations. Creating a broader historical context will also cause these scholars to rethink the location of their own work within the debates on the role of class and ethnic identities in the creation popular movements.
This book will also interest students of agrarian mobilizations and ethnic identity politics throughout the developing world. It will provide a comparative example of how a rural population confronted the damaging impact of a modernizing agrarian capitalism on their local communities and lives. This study examines a model of the effectiveness of cross-cultural alliances and the ability of marginalized populations to imagine complex and seemingly conflictive forms of identity. It will be of interest to scholars and activists interested in popular movements, rural and Indian peoples, ethnic conflict and identity politics.
This book will also find a market in undergraduate and graduate courses on ethnicity, agrarian history, social movements, and political theory. My writing style is clear and straightforward, free of the confines of technical jargon. I am able to communicate complex concepts through a readable and enjoyable narrative. Students will increase their knowledge of Andean history while at the same time being challenged to rethink their assumptions about the interplay of class and ethnic dynamics.
Physical Characteristics and Schedule for Completion
The book manuscript is complete. It is organized into nine chapters and has about 265 manuscript pages (roughly 100,000 words), including the text, footnotes, and bibliographies. I am willing to work with the press to acquire historical photographs from Ecuador and to draft professional maps to supplement the manuscript. The attached outline shows the organization of each chapter and a list of supplementary materials.