Traditional, transnational, and cosmopolitan: The Colombian Yanacona look to the past and to the future

Publication Type:

Journal Article


American Ethnologist, Volume 36, Issue 3, p.521-544 (2009)


In this article, we analyze a crisis that resulted when a vehicular road was illegally cut through a corner of southern Colombia's San Agustín Archaeological Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site, by a nearby reindigenizing Yanacona community and its neighboring campesino allies. In numerous meetings addressing the crisis, Yanacona leaders, performing on a transnational and cosmopolitan stage, have asserted and justified their position by creatively combining local and "authentic" discourses with significantly scaled-up heritage, developmentalist, and environmentalist ones. Yanacona articulate and adapt their ethnicity to an evolving global reification of diversity as well as fashion a symbolics of citizenship that critiques modernity but cannot be called "traditional."[reindigenization, heritage, performativity, state–indigenous relations, politics of culture, cultural tourism, Colombia]