Is a relationship between the Institutional and the Intercultural possible?

INTERCULTURAL DYNAMICS - Jun 6, 2007

The CIDOB Foundation holds a doctorate students' workshop on the subject of the relationship between the intercultural and the institutional in the context of Latin America.

Description

The Intercultural Dynamics Programme of the CIDOB held a workshop for doctorate students − in the foundation's Campana Hall − during which Jesús García Ruíz, doctorate professorin Anthropology-Ethnology at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS-Paris) and member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Religious Facts (CEIFR) and Gemma Orobitg, lecturer in Anthropology at the UB and the UOC, tackled the subject of the relationship between the intercultural and the institutional in the context of Latin America.

During the two workshop sessions, the participants analysed the processes of the institutionalisation of the demands of indigenous peoples in the context of Venezuela, in the light of the question posed by the Doctorate Students’ Forum: Is a relationship between the institutional and the intercultural possible? The participants also debated the construction of new forms of institutionality based on social structuring around religious communities, especially given the emergence of evangelical faiths in Guatemala.

Using a study of the 5th Congress of CONIVE (National Council of Indigenous Peoples of Venezuela), the workshop participants reviewed the main transformations produced by the emergence and political empowerment of the indigenous peoples, both by state institutions and by the ways in which the actual indigenous movement organises and structures itself, as well as its dialogue with the State. Furthermore, elements were highlighted that show the mutually structuring and transformative relationship of the discourses of both the State and the indigenous groups.

The presentation highlighted the process of the institutionalisation of the indigenous question within the Venezuelan political framework. At the same time, an examination was carried out of the tensions, transformations and appropriations or changes in discourses that the State system represents for indigenous organisations. Also revealed were the differences between representation and representativeness, between the written word and oral expression as elements that facilitate the understanding of the relationship from a metaphorical viewpoint.

The debate also covered the process of institutional pluralisation and fragmentation through the emergence of autonomously inter-developed evangelical micro-churches, setting American-style organisation as a point of reference (i.e. one that places great value on personal individualisation and featuring an organisational system that is more similar to the administration of a private enterprise). The participants concluded that this model has been very effective in terms of social incorporation, as well as promoting great competition between the enterprises.

An understanding of how the evangelical movement has been introduced into Guatemalan society facilitates the exemplification of other forms of institutionalisation, as well as an identification of these forms and their relationship with the issue of the intercultural. The elements identified by speakers when analysing the phenomenon facilitate the use of a methodology that allows them to observe the processes of how the intercultural question is incorporated into the institutional sphere, by encouraging social understanding at different historical and social points in the process.

This activity, which took place within the programme of the Doctorate Students’ Forum of the Intercultural Dynamics Programme, will conclude with the publication of a CIDOB Document that will include comments and reflections by the speakers taking part.

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