'Healing the institution': Conflict and democratic sovereignty in an Indigenous Community of the Argentine Chaco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article provides an ethnographic exploration of democratic sovereignty in an indigenous Guaraní settlement of Argentina's Gran Chaco. Focussing on legally instituted Indigenous Communities, it analyses political assemblies, elections, and bureaucracy as practices of self-government that mediate indigenous recognition and extend state authority. The article hones in on the 'social drama' of a particular settlement to show how extractive engagements combine with recognition to generate new forms of conflict. As state entities and officials mediate between Guaraní factions, institutionalisation advances, enfolding conflict and replicating state forms among local populations. This makes certain forms of political action legible, while rendering others opaque. By drawing attention to how indigenous leaders and state officials utilise opacity and legibility to further their own agendas I show how democratic institutions are co-produced through everyday interactions. The article argues that procedural efforts to incorporate and recognise indigenous societies through communal institutions have resulted in ambiguous forms of sovereignty. Shifting the emphasis away from multiculturalism to institutionalisation highlights the overlaps between indigenous and national forms of sovereignty and draws attention to the fact that many of the key political relations that structure indigenous recognition partake in broader mechanisms of democratic rule.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
Early online date21 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Latin America
  • community
  • representation
  • factionalism
  • recognition
  • governance


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