Explaining variation in indigenous mobilisation - A comparative study of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Andes
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This thesis seeks to answer the question of why ethnic identity has served as a basis for mobilisation among the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian highlands, but not among the indigenous peoples of highland Peru. Ecuador and Peru can be regarded as similar countries as they share a number of background characteristics. However, during the 1990s Ecuador had the strongest indigenous movement in Latin America, while no national indigenous movement appeared in Peru. In a Latin American context Peru can be seen as a deviant case, as indigenous movements have developed in all of the other countries with large indigenous populations. While ethnic conflict constitutes a challenge to the "new" democracies in Latin America with large indigenous populations, ethnicity and ethnic cleavages in the region remain an understudied topic. My approach to the research question is therefore exploratory. On the basis of a discussion of ethnicity theory, theories of nation-building and modernisation, and social movement theory, I develop three main variables which are operationalised by four indicators each. The variables are: 1) ethnic boundaries and group differences; 2) state- and nation-building policies pursued by the state; and 3) the potential for mobilisation of highland indigenous peoples. The variables provide the headings for the three chapters of the analysis. The analysis demonstrates that the first variable is not likely to account for the different outcomes in Ecuador and Peru with regard to highland indigenous mobilisation, as indigenous peoples seem to be equally disadvantaged in both countries. Rather, a combination of state-policies and organisational processes, the second and third variables, seem to better explain variation in highland indigenous mobilisation. In Ecuador, nation-building ideologies have been more exclusive of indigenous peoples than in Peru, and there has also been less land redistribution. This is likely to have provided stronger incentives for highland indigenous mobilisation in Ecuador. In addition, weak class-based organisations and a relatively open political system in Ecuador as contrasted to Peru, seem to have been conducive to the formation of indigenous organisations. In Peru, ethnicity has tended to be overshadowed by class.