16 novembre 2018

Democracy, development and indigenous rights

From left to right: Graziella Moraes Silva, Ethel Branch, Ruth Choque, Karmen Ramírez and Nancy Postero

As a part of Democracy Week 2018 promoted by the Geneva Chancellery of State, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy organised several activities exploring the key themes of democracy, development, and indigenous rights. These themes build on Albert Hirschman’s own experiences living and working in Latin America in the 1950s.

Four invited guests from the Americas participated in the debates with the Graduate Institute academic community and with the public: Ruth Betsaida Itamari Choque, Member of the Bolivian Parliament, Ethel Branch, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation, Nancy Postero, Professor of Anthropology and co-Director, International Institute, UC San Diego, and Karmen Ramírez Boscán, Founder of Wayunkerra Indigenous Women’s Initiative.

The speakers reflected on how democratic engagement can promote indigenous rights and discussed different experiences and challenges, from North America to Latin America. The panel, entitled “The new wave of populism in the Americas : advance or setback for indigenous communities?” was jointly organised with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and moderated by Graziella Moraes Silva, Professor of anthropology and sociology at the Graduate Institute and faculty member of the Hirschman Centre.

You can watch the video here:


The invited guests also participated in a workshop on “Democracy, indigenous rights and ethno-racial mobilisation: Latin America in comparative perspective”, jointly organised with the Europaeum, an association of a dozen of Europe’s leading universities of which the Graduate Institute is a member, and with Alternautas, an academic blog and journal dedicated to the critical analysis of development in Latin America. Some of the nine articles that were presented in this workshop by students from different European universities will be published as a special issue in Alternautas.


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Felipe Roa-Clavijo from the University of Oxford presenting his work at the Democracy Week workshop

Letter from a Europaeum participant
Julia Zulver, PhD, University of Oxford
I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the event: “Democracy, indigenous rights and ethno-racial mobilisation: Latin America in comparative perspective” at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in October 2018. The event brought together a diverse group of social scientists who apply intersectional perspectives to the study of democracy in Latin America. I presented a paper about Afro-Colombian women’s organisations in “post-conflict” Colombia. My paper used an intersectional lens that includes both the gendered and racialised dynamics of conflict to examine the strategies undertaken by two different women’s groups who fight for gender justice. Many other participants at the workshop also adopted intersectional analyses, and it was useful to make comparisons with the findings from their case studies. Although we work in different countries, with different communities, and on different topics, the day’s proceedings made it clear that we in fact share the aim to put often marginalized and ignored voices and experiences at the centre of our respective research agendas. I am confident that the publication we are putting together will offer alternative and unique insights into the lived experiences of Latin America’s indigenous and Afro-Latino communities.