Assimilation vs. Autonomy: the Evolution of Indigeneity in Modern-Day Ecuador

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The sociopolitical divide that currently persists in Ecuador has long created widespread disconnect between the nation’s elites and its numerous Indigenous populations. However, this rift is being continually exacerbated by increased pressure upon Indigenous communities to adapt or even assimilate into surrounding modern societies. While this conflict inspired one of the most successful Indigenous uprisings Ecuador has seen in recent history, I will argue that it also implicitly forced the same Indigenous communities to redefine the very identity they have fought to maintain. As a result of the momentum the Indigenous movement in Ecuador has gained contemporarily, the face of Indigeneity has evolved dramatically. In order to gain insight into the ways in which Indigenous identities have developed, I will examine the intersection of Ecuadorean Indigeneity and modern society by way of analysis of this specific cultural context from numerous perspectives, both historical and contemporary. It is expected that this investigation will suggest that the success of Ecuador’s Indigenous movement was contingent on representations and perceptions of Indigeneity within Indigenous communities as well as throughout the rest of the nation’s surrounding societies.