This article analyses the causes of the disparity in collective rights gained by indigenous and Afro-Latin groups in recent rounds of multicultural citizenship reform in Latin America. Instead of attributing the greater success of indians in winning collective rights to differences in population size, higher levels of indigenous group identity or higher levels of organisation of the indigenous movement, it is argued that the main cause of the disparity is the fact that collective rights are adjudicated on the basis of possessing a distinct group identity defined in cultural or ethnic terms. Indians are generally better positioned than most Afro-Latinos to claim ethnic group identities separate from the national culture and have therefore been more successful in winning collective rights. It is suggested that one of the potentially negative consequences of basing group rights on the assertion of cultural difference is that it might lead indigenous groups and Afro-Latinos to privilege issues of cultural recognition over questions of racial discrimination as bases for political mobilisation in the era of multicultural politics.
Comment (from this Blueprint): Given unjust social conditions faced by Afro-Latin communities in Latin America, it is important to examine the erasure of Afro-Latin identities from narratives about the constitution of mestizo national identities. While Indigenous identities are appropriated as partly constitutive of mestizo identity, Afro-Latin cultures are often regarded by mestizos as that which is Other. This results not only in the exoticization of Afro-Latinidad, but in the lack of available resources to acknowledge and address racial discrimination faced by Afro-Latin groups in many Latin American countries. Moreover, while Latin American cultures are often regarded as the result of Spanish and Indigenous mixing, it hasn’t been until recently that the African diaspora has been acknowledged as the third root of Latin American aesthetic practices.