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Ecuadorian indigenous youth and identities: cultural homogenization or indigenous vindication?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

There exists a scholarly debate on the cultural impact of globalization and how and to what extent it is affecting indigenous people in particular. Three theoretical standpoints can be discerned from the debate; the homogenization-perspective which holds that globalization is making world cultures more similar, the hybridization-perspective which emphasizes that it is fragmenting cultural boundaries and the differentiation-perspective which implies that globalization is augmenting differences and making humanity as a whole more diverse. As regards the cultural impact of globalization on indigenous peoples, many question marks can be raised. The objective of this research is to contribute to the debate by bringing to light the perspective of the indigenous movement in Ecuador, CONAIE. An analysis is made on how they perceive globalization affecting the maintenance of indigenous identities and culture among today’s youth. That information is then used as a foundation to analyze CONAIE’s level of success regarding their main objective; to preserve Ecuador’s indigenous nationalities and peoples. The study, which has a qualitative ethnographic approach and is based on semi-structured interviews, was carried out during an eight weeks long field study in Quito and in San Pedro de Escaleras, Cuenca, Ecuador. The research has an abductive approach and the theoretical debate on globalization’s cultural impact on indigenous peoples sets the analytical frame of the study. The three theoretical standpoints; globalization as homogenization, globalization as differentiation and globalization as hybridization play central roles in the analysis of the empirical material.

The findings show that there are many elements that obstruct the maintenance of indigenous culture and identity among youth in contemporary Ecuador. There is a connection between youth being exposed to cultural globalization and that they lose cultural characteristics for the indigenous identity. Hybridization of identities due to globalization is presented as a possible factor to play a role in this. Indigenous youth tend to drop characteristics for the indigenous identity as they adopt features from the mestizo culture, in case they see no benefit in maintaining the former. This indicates that what ultimately might be at stake is cultural homogenization. Light is also shed on that CONAIE lacks strategies and possibilities to reinforce the indigenous identity among the youth that is in a process of identity change. The findings thus point at that despite efforts for cultural revival by the indigenous movement in Ecuador, the maintenance of rigid frontiers between the ethnically diverse nationalities in the country is threatened. Seen to a larger picture, this implies that globalization’s impact on indigenous culture among youth is very difficult to counteract. It appears as if the move towards more cultural similarity in Ecuador cannot be hindered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 59 p.
Keyword [en]
CONAIE, social movement, indigenous, identities, youth, Ecuador
National Category
Globalization Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-29122OAI: diva2:652733
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
International Social Sciences Programme, specialization Global Studies, 180 credits
2013-08-28, Växjö, 15:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-10-03 Created: 2013-10-01 Last updated: 2013-10-03Bibliographically approved

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