COMING SOON! PQDT Open is getting a new home!

ProQuest Open Access Dissertations & Theses will remain freely available as part of a new and enhanced search experience at

Questions? Please refer to this FAQ.

Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Negotiating indigenous autonomy: Politics, land, and religion in Tierradentro (Colombia), 1905–1950
by Boza Villarreal, Alejandra, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2013, 346; 3573256
Abstract (Summary)

For decades after Independence more than half of continental Latin America's territory remained beyond the nascent republics' control. Indigenous populations inhabited most of these regions, and by the late-nineteenth century the Latin American states started to target them in an effort to secure national borders and consolidate territorial control. With only a few exceptions, states turned to international Christian missionary orders to help them in the “civilization” of these indigenous areas, and by the first decade of the twentieth century the missionaries were active in many of them, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In spite of the missionaries' widespread presence, there exist only a few studies about the impact they had on the indigenous populations they targeted and on the states' nation-building projects. This study examines precisely these questions by focusing on the case of Tierradentro, a region in southwestern Colombia inhabited mostly by Nasa Indians, and where Catholic missionaries from the Congregation of the Mission initiated a mission in 1905 that survives until the present.

This dissertation studies the transformations that indigenous authorities underwent in response to the new republican reality, the missionaries' “civilizing” agenda and the ways in which indigenous demands shaped it, the Indians' active participation in elections and political parties, their struggles to defend their communal lands, and the negotiation between Catholic and non-Catholic traditions that characterized the Indians' ritual life. It utilizes documentation produced by the missionaries, local and national authorities, travelers, anthropologists, and the Indians themselves.

This study argues that the Nasa Indians from Tierradentro managed to retain significant levels of political and cultural autonomy not by remaining isolated, but by actively engaging with a wide variety of local, national, and international actors. Starting in the 1970s Indians from Tierradentro and other localities used several of these strategies to build one of the most successful self-identified indigenous movements in Latin America.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Putnam, Lara
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Andean Indians, Cabildos, Caciques, Cauca, Colombia, Indigenous, Resguardos, Tierradentro, Vincentians
Publication Number: 3573256
ISBN: 978-1-303-43037-4
Copyright © 2021 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy Cookie Policy