3 minute read

Native Policy

Indianness, National Policy, And Anthropology In The Twenty-first Century

Anthropologists sometimes exaggerate and sometimes underestimate the importance of their work and their ideas to "the real world"—the world of governments and families, health and disease, happiness and despair. But in the case of Indian policy, anthropological knowledge has buttressed and often been the accomplice to national "regimes of truth" about Indian peoples. In the United States, an "official anthropology" funded and sponsored by the federal government has been a historic partner to state Indian policy. In Latin America, such an official anthropology has generally not had the same effects historically, with the exception of Brazil and Mexico. However, the rise of indigenous movements demanding control over lands and resources will likely oblige Latin American governments to act as "gatekeepers" and to utilize anthropological knowledge much more in order to ascertain and legitimize Indian identities in the twenty-first century. Anthropological knowledge in this century will therefore be simultaneously yoked to forging new state–Indian relations and new kinds of Indian policies, while also being engaged in reflective and critical analysis of these new relationships. These often contradictory roles will unfold in both North and Latin America.


Campbell, Howard. Zapotec Renaissance: Ethnic Politics and Cultural Revivalism in Southern Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994.

CONAIE (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador). Las nacionalidades indígenas en el Ecuador. Quito: Ediciones Tincui-Abya-Yala, 1989.

Deloria, Vine, Jr., and Clifford M. Lytle. The Nations Within: The Past and Future of American Indian Sovereignty. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

Dyck, Noel, and James B. Waldram, eds. Anthropology, Public Policy, and Native Peoples in Canada. Montreal and Buffalo, N.Y.: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1993.

Field, Les W. "Blood and Traits: Preliminary Observations on the Analysis of Mestizo and Indigenous Identities in Latin vs. North America." Journal of Latin American Anthropology 7, no. 1 (2002): 2–33.

——. The Grimace of Macho Ratón: Artisans, Identity, and Nation in Late-Twentieth-Century Western Nicaragua. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999.

Hale, Charles R. Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894–1987. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Lomnitz-Adler, Claudio. Exits from the Labyrinth: Culture and Ideology in the Mexican National Space. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Mallon, Florencia E. Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Nash, June. We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us: Dependency and Exploitation in Bolivian Tin Mines. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Ramos, Alcida Rita. Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.

Rappaport, Joanne. The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Rasnake, Roger Neil. Domination and Cultural Resistance: Authority and Power among an Andean People. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1988.

Redfield, Robert, and Alfonso Villa Rojas. Chan Kom: A Mayan Village. Reprint. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962. Originally published in 1934.

Sherzer, Joel, and Greg Urban. Nation-States and Indians in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991.

Smith, Carol A., ed. Guatemalan Indians and the State, 1540 to 1988. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Starn, Orin 1992. "Missing the Revolution: Anthropologists and the War in Peru." In Rereading Cultural Anthropology, edited by George Marcus, 152–179. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992.

Sturm, Circe. Blood Politics: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Warren, Kay B. Indigenous Movements and their Critics: Pan-Maya Activism in Guatemala. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Warren, Kay, and Jean Jackson, eds. Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation, and the State in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

Wolf, Eric R. Peasants. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

Les W. Field

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mysticism to Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotideNative Policy - Anthropology's Changes, Perspectives On Colonialism And Postindependence Latin America, Indian Policies Of The Twentieth-century Nation-states