On the Edge of Citizenship: Inclusion in the Modern Nation State

Thursday, February 5, 2015
3:30pm – 4:45pm
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Justin Wolfe, Department of History, Tulane University

El Paraíso de las Mujeres: Women’s Suffrage in Ecuador, 1895-1929
Robert Franco, Duke University

This paper is on the women’s suffrage movement in Ecuador from the Liberal Revolution of 1895 to the successful enfranchisement of women in 1929. Most importantly, it challenges the dominant historical narrative that Ecuadorian suffrage was a tool used by a conservative regime to co-opt women’s votes. Instead, it proposes an alternative reading of women’s suffrage as a compromise between reformers, who hoped for broad social change, and the state, which attempted to limit such change. It places Ecuadorian suffrage in the context of post-World War I social reforms, and uses Ecuador as a lens to explore variations in strains of feminism, women’s enfranchisement, citizenship, and labor reforms in the early twentieth century. Additionally, this paper explores varied forms and degrees of citizenship in order to place women’s suffrage in the longer history of indirect exclusion employed by Ecuador’s dominant political parties. In the end, the vote benefitted only a select group of women – mainly urban, educated middle- and upper class women. Most indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian, lower-and working-class women remained formally disenfranchised until the second half of the twentieth-century. However, the history of women’s suffrage can play an important role in linking Ecuador’s period of nation-building to the large-scale social movements of the 1980s and 1990s and catalyze new debates as to the meanings of nation, citizen, and democracy in Latin America during the early twentieth century.

This Modern Mining City: Corocoro, Bolivia, 1900-1940
Elena McGrath, University of Wisconsin

Building on the first chapter of my dissertation, my paper explores early twentieth-century dreams of cosmopolitanism and urban development in Corocoro, a small copper mining town in Bolivia. Using court records of two moments of anti-foreign agitation during the 1930s and 1940s, I emphasize the articulation of ideologies of resource nationalism, social welfare, and modern development that enabled the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) party to create a viable political project supported by both working-class and middle-class voters in provincial mining centers such as Corocoro prior to the 1952 Revolution. Given Bolivia’s history of periodic indigenous uprisings, several of which involved communities near Corocoro, Bolivian revolutionaries and their political allies had to confront the specter of imagined indigenous tendencies toward violence and race war. The political actors of the 1940s and 1950s differed from earlier generations, seeing indigenous Bolivians as redeemable through conversion into western categories of subjects: workers, farmers, and urban residents. These reformists and aspiring revolutionaries resolved the “problem” of indigenous difference by privileging the Bolivian mining family as a model for creating a new kind of citizen, and mining towns as crucial sites of change.I show how these visions were created out of the struggles of the Great Depression and Chaco war, but also were crucial to the way peripheral cities imagined themselves as generative centers of Bolivian modernity. Of course, even as this narrative of transformation allowed for a more expansive notion of Bolivian citizenship based on the valorization of working class men, it also rendered peripheral indigenous communities themselves from the imagined nation of laborers and citizens. My paper thus also works recuperate the exclusions written into this narrative of modern urbanity, using court cases to highlight the moments of social and cultural friction in this period.

A Cause for Reflection: Imagining Brazil at 100 Years of Independence
Joseph Pendergraph, Vanderbilt University

The first aerial crossing of the Southern Atlantic Ocean (from Lisbon to Rio) and the state visit of the Portuguese president António José de Almeida to Brazil to help commemorate the centennial of independence from Portugal both occurred in 1922. Newspaper coverage of these two events, along with telegrams and speeches from both sides of the Atlantic indicate, I argue, that this was the pinnacle of conflicting racialized discourses regarding Brazilian national identity. Several scholars have show that Brazilian elites of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries attempted to emulate Northern European high culture and called for European immigration in trying to mask the mixed-race heritage of their tropical country. Scholars of race in Brazil also hold that São Paulo’s Semana de Arte Moderna (also in 1922) was a key moment for reasserting the positive impact of racial mixing on Brazilian society. Neither group of scholars is off the mark in these observations, but my research indicates that an important element has gone completely unconsidered. The presidencies of Epitácio Pessoa (Brazil, 1919 – 1922) and Almeida (Portugal, 1919 – 1923) saw a high-water mark of cordiality in the history of Luso-Brazilian relations, and this cordiality hinged on the fact that both countries were young republics and the particularly strong republican sentiments of these two men. This attempt to fashion a historical narrative that downplayed important moments of conflict between the two places should be understood as a calculated move to discard the emphasis that had been placed on Northern European cultural inheritance, which at this late date held little sway, and exchange it for a more authentic connection to Brazil’s Portuguese past. In this way, Brazilians were encouraged to maintain their focus on their country’s status as a modern, European, essentially white nation; indigenous people and Afro-descendants still found no purchase in this conceptualization. This was the actual conservative platform against which the modern artists rebelled in São Paulo in 1922.

The Land and Its People: Rights, Responsibilities, and Conflicts

Saturday, February 7, 2015
10:00am – 11:15am
Jones Hall 100A Greenleaf Conference Room
Moderated by: Dr. Kris Lane, Department of History, Tulane University

Ancestral Land or Corporate Land: Conflicts over Identity and Territory in La Guajira, Colombia
Emma Banks, Vanderbilt University

In La Guajira, Colombia, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino people struggle to defend their land threatened by the Cerrejón coalmine. These communities face a common problem, but must advance their claims through three different legal regimes. The 1991 constitution recognizes ethnic territories, and provides a framework for indigenous and Afro-Colombians, but not for campesinos, to protect their ancestral territories. Furthermore, the state that guarantees these rights also supports a national economic development plan based on mining, two seemingly contradictory responsibilities. Drawing on fieldwork with communities surrounding Cerrejón and analysis of key legislation, this paper explores how both the state and corporate actors manipulate multicultural legal norms to disenfranchise communities and control territory. It also illustrates how communities propose an alternative to narrow state definitions of ethnicity. Although framed as an attempt at recognizing ethnic rights, this paper views the state’s recognition of ethnic communities as a vehicle for regulating land in La Guajira in favor of Cerrejón. Wayuu indigenous communities have successfully claimed their ancestral territories, but as a result have come under greater state control. Legislation for Afro-Colombian and campesino communities falls short in La Guajira, denying their rights to territory and self-identity. In contrast to state legislation, ethnic claim-making “from below” is an attempt to assign land a cultural value and protect it from economic exploitation. The complex struggle over both territory and identity in La Guajira reveals how powerful actors and disenfranchised minorities mobilize multicultural values for disparate goals.

Fenced in Place: Discourses and Practices around Female Workers in China’s Hydropower Projects in Ecuador
Ruijie Peng, University of Texas at Austin

This study explores re/production of social and spatial relations in the biggest ongoing Chinese hydroelectric project in the Amazon watershed in Ecuador. With China’s near dominant role in development investment in Ecuador, the paper relies both on structural analysis of Chinese investment and original and ethnographic accounts and reflections from fieldwork in order to elucidate processes of integration or segmentation Chinese projects entail in the project. Due to different labor regulations, cultural norms and natural environment, Chinese-led development project experience a set of spatial segregation and labor segmentation based on national, ethnicity and gender lines. This produces a new development and management logic that both resembles traditional capitalist insertion in local economy yet distinguishes itself with different types of labor and environmental implications. However, instead of reproducing an imperial model of resource exploitation, China’s engagement with Ecuador and Latin America in general in development has created a new realm of contested social relations and interactions. For example, up to 20% of the workers and other staff have been brought from mainland China to work with Ecuadorians under a labor regime that creates more disadvantages for Chinese labor force than its Ecuadorian counterpart. Does Chinese investment and development in Ecuador represent a different paradigm than global capitalism’s engagement in production and profit? What spaces and social relations produce and are produced by South-South cooperation in development? Reflections from this work urge state and non-state actors to rethink ways in which Chinese state-led investments, Latin American states and grassroots advocacy groups can achieve more equitable and sustainable resource development.

This Isn’t Child’s Play: Delineating Mobility and Property in the Eastern Andes, 1630-1651
Nathan Weaver Olsen, University of Minnesota

In February of 1650, a property dispute between two brothers-in-law, Lorenzo de Chavez Orellana and Juan Sanchez de Aguilera, escalated into a fistfight as the local lieutenant general attempted to give Sanchez formal possession of what Chavez claimed to be his land, in full view of the Chavez family home. Of course on one level, the fistfight, which the Lieutenant General did not mention in his official report, was simply a physical manifestation of rising tensions between the two men. But on another level, this fight in a sparsely populated valley in the eastern Andes was a battle between proxies representing different notions about the origin and meaning of property rights, local citizenship (vecindad) and personal reputation. While Sanchez temporarily won possession of Chavez’s land, he would ultimately lose out in his effort to separate Chavez from his property, and did not prevent the sale of Chavez’s land to the regionally powerful don Pedro de Cuellar Mimbreño. The loss signified a change taking place in the valley in which years of military service in defense of the frontier no longer trumped literacy, documentary evidence, and the knowledge of Spanish civil legal codes. In this talk I will discuss how changing ideas about personal property in the seventeenth-century Andes help us to better understand how frontier spaces became bordered places, and the social implications of such changes for frontier communities.