Date of Award

5-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Hill, Jonathan

Abstract

In this thesis, I explore the ways by which two indigenous peoples represent themselves in the context of national politics in Venezuela during the so-called Bolivarian Revolution. In particular, I offer an anthropological understanding of bodily practices and visual elements that the Wayúu and the Pume peoples use to index their indigenous identities in the context of televised meetings to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela. In order to do so, I follow the theoretical approach proposed by Graham and Penny (2014) in which performances of indigeneity are understood as actions that (1) are representations of local and traditional performances that are historically and culturally contingent and (2) involve a creative process that connects local realities with national and global political agendas. Likewise, I draw on current anthropological understandings on the concepts of authenticity and folklorization. The data used to carry out this research was the footage of television programs that the Venezuelan state TV channel (Venezolana de Televisión) broadcasts every October 12 from 2002 to the present, as well as ethnohistorical information about the aforementioned indigenous peoples. Due to their particular socio-historical processes, as well as their current situation, the Wayúu and the Pume peoples have shaped the images of indigeneity at different levels. On the one hand, the Wayúu people have become iconic within the images of indigeneity shaped in the national political arena. On the other hand, the Pume people have been fairly absent in national politics. When present, they have performed their most important ritual – the tõhe –, a ritual that according to themselves is the ultimate expression of their identity as a group.

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