Cover of Managing Multiculturalism by Jean E. Jackson
Managing Multiculturalism
Indigeneity and the Struggle for Rights in Colombia
Jean E. Jackson


February 2019
328 pages.
from $30.00
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503606227
Paperback ISBN: 9781503607699
Ebook ISBN: 9781503607705

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Indigenous people in Colombia constitute a mere three percent of the national population. Colombian indigenous communities' success in gaining collective control of almost thirty percent of the national territory is nothing short of extraordinary. In Managing Multiculturalism, Jean E. Jackson examines the evolution of the Colombian indigenous movement over the course of her forty-plus years of research and fieldwork, offering unusually developed and nuanced insight into how indigenous communities and activists changed over time, as well as how she the ethnographer and scholar evolved in turn.

The story of how indigenous organizing began, found its voice, established alliances, and won battles against the government and the Catholic Church has important implications for the indigenous cause internationally and for understanding all manner of rights organizing. Integrating case studies with commentaries on the movement's development, Jackson explores the politicization and deployment of multiculturalism, indigenous identity, and neoliberalism, as well as changing conceptions of cultural value and authenticity—including issues such as patrimony, heritage, and ethnic tourism. Both ethnography and recent history of the Latin American indigenous movement, this works traces the ideas motivating indigenous movements in regional and global relief, and with unprecedented breadth and depth.

About the author

Jean E. Jackson is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her books include Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation and the State in Latin America (2002), co-edited with Kay B. Warren, and "Camp Pain": Talking with Chronic Pain Patients (2000).

"Engaging, informed, and provocative, this book is a must-read from one of the leading lights of indigenous studies. Jean Jackson brings five decades of work with indigenous people to bear on contemporary debates. Managing Multiculturalism offers a major intervention into legal pluralism, reindigenization, and multiculturalist discourses."

—Andrew Canessa, University of Essex

"A deep and impressive work of historical ethnography. With tact and critical rigor, Jean Jackson interrogates her own changing attitudes over a half-century of research in Colombia. The result is an acute analysis of new performances of 'indigeneity' that renew and reinvent old traditions in contexts of neoliberal multiculturalism. Jackson offers provocative stories and resonant images that force us to grapple with the paradoxes and contradictions of entangled cultural transformation. Never content with simple answers, she sustains an engaged, self-critical realism, open to surprise and contingency."

—James Clifford, author of Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century

"Managing Multiculturalism is a powerful braided narrative. Jean Jackson traces, how, over time, indigenous people in Colombia have struggled to define themselves, constructing notions of cultural belonging that are increasingly tied to ever more complex political structures and legal foundations. Jackson also uses the recent history of indigenous identity formation as a frame for questioning the development of her own ideas about cultural authenticity, pointing out the limitations that ethnographers and other social analysts—both Colombian and from the global North—have faced over the years in trying to square the circle, by unsuccessfully forcing a multifarious process to conform to anthropological notions of culture. Taking readers by the hand and leading them, step by step, through the analytical quandaries she faced and the mistakes she confesses to have made, Jackson uses her personal experience to expose the fault-lines of indigenous studies."

—Joanne Rappaport, Georgetown University

"[Jackson] provides a nuanced, personal account of how the goals of indigenous communities and local community activists have changed over time.Managing Multiculturalism is an impressive work of historical ethnography and amply demonstrates the fruitfulness of long-term ethnographic research."––S. D. Glazier, Choice

"Jackson's highly readable monograph makes an important contribution to the literature about ethnicity, identity formation, and interstate and ethnic-minority relations....[It] offers a much-needed look into the political organization of indigenous groups in the tropical forest."

—Brett Troyan, Journal of Interdisciplinary History