The Multicultural Politics of Race and Identity

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The Multicultural Politics of Race and Identity Afro-Ecuadorian Activists in Quito
Main, Meredith
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Latin American Studies
Committee Chair:
Harrison, Faye V.
Committee Members:
Hedrick, Tace M.
Thurner, Mark W.
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African American culture ( jstor )
African Americans ( jstor )
Descendants ( jstor )
Latin American culture ( jstor )
Multiculturalism ( jstor )
Nonprofit organizations ( jstor )
Political identity ( jstor )
Political movements ( jstor )
Social activism ( jstor )
Social movements ( jstor )
Latin American Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
afro, afroecuatorianos, blackness, identity, quito, race, racialization
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Latin American Studies thesis, M.A.


This thesis explores the relationship between race, politics and black identity in Quito, Ecuador. Since 1998, the Ecuadorian state has recognized Afro-descendants as a distinct ethnic group. This change departed earlier eras, when legislation and discourses on Ecuadorian nationalism were based on racial homogeneity. This research analyzes how Afro-Ecuadorian activists negotiate ethnic and race-cognizant identities in the context of recent shifts in Ecuador s racial politics. The materials used include ethnographic observations from two months of participation with black social movement organizations in Quito. The analysis also draws on interview data with 35 key informants from Quito s black activist community. These individuals represent the state, grassroots and NGO Afro-Ecuadorian organizations, and a local order of the Catholic Church. ( en )
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Includes vita.
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Adviser: Harrison, Faye V.
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by Meredith Main.

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LD1780 2010 ( lcc )


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2 2010 M eredith Jo M ain


3 T o my mom Debbie Jo


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my mentors who have guided my personal and scholarly trajectory. To my committee, Dr. Harri son, Dr. Hedrick and Dr. Thurner thank you for your support and dedication. Your words of encouragement and your comments along the way made a world of difference. Of course, I must thank the dedicated activists who helped me in this research. I did not kno w what to expect going into this project with zero connections. I n Quito, I was embraced with open arms at state agencies or in barrios populares I learned from each person in Quito and I hope that this thesis will be useful for you to critique or talk about at home. Also, t hank you for reminding me of my whiteness.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: LOCATING BLACKNESS IN ECUADOR ................................ .... 9 The Racial and Sp atial Landscape of the City ................................ ........................ 12 Moving Through the City ................................ ................................ .................. 12 Urbanization and Racialization in the City ................................ ........................ 13 Studying Blackness: Race, Ethnicity and Identity. ................................ ............ 19 Field Site Description and Methods ................................ ................................ ........ 21 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ......................... 22 Methodology ................................ ................................ .............................. 23 In depth interviews ................................ ................................ ..................... 23 A rchival Analysis ................................ ................................ ........................ 24 Ethical Dilemmas ................................ ................................ .............................. 24 A Note on Terminology ................................ ................................ ..................... 25 Outline of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ 26 2 FORMING BLACK IDENTITIES IN ECUADOR ................................ ...................... 30 Chapter Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 30 Origins: Colonization and Slavery ................................ ................................ .... 31 Mestizaje and Blanqueamiento ................................ ................................ ........ 34 Race, Development and Nation Building in the Early 20 th Century ................... 36 The Emergence of Blackness as a Racial and Political Category ........................... 37 Late 20 th Century International D evelopments ................................ ................. 38 The Opening of Civil Society ................................ ................................ ............ 39 Structural Adjustment, Neoliberal Development ................................ ............... 40 Multicultural Reform ................................ ................................ ......................... 41 NGOs and the Development Agenda ................................ ............................... 42 The Catholic Church ................................ ................................ ......................... 43 Human Rights ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 44 The Formation of Black Social Movement Organizations in Quito .......................... 45 1980s 1990 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 45 1990s: The Multicultural Turn and the Formation of Black Identities ................ 47 The importance of WCAR for Afro Latin Am ericans and Afro Ecuadorians ................................ ................................ ............................ 48 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 49


6 3 ARTICULATIONS OF BLACKNESS: IDENTITIES, IDENTIFICATIONS AND CULTURAL POLITICS ................................ ................................ ............................ 51 Chapter Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 52 Research on Assuming Political Identities ................................ ........................ 53 The Evolution of Black Identification in Ecuador ................................ ............... 54 Afro Ecuadorian Activists in Quito ................................ ................................ .... 55 Being Black and Becoming Afro Ecuado rian: Intellectual Activist Subject Formations ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 56 The Grassroots ................................ ................................ ................................ 61 An Outing with Panela ................................ ................................ ...................... 69 Cultural Revival ................................ ................................ ................................ 71 Racial and Spatial Dimensions of Afro Ecuadorian Identity ............................. 72 In Quito ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 73 ................................ ...... 73 Female Body Politics ................................ ................................ .............................. 75 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 78 4 THE POLITICS OF RACE AND IDENTITY WITHIN AND AROUND INTERCULTURALISM ................................ ................................ ............................ 81 Chapter Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 81 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 82 Multiculturalism and Interculturalism ................................ ................................ 83 ral Project ................................ ................................ ........ 84 Activist Perspectives on Interculturalism ................................ .......................... 84 On the Commodification of Culture and Race ................................ .................. 86 Mes del Nio ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 88 Obama: A Transruptive Ethnographic Moment ................................ ....................... 92 Reactions to the Election of Obama ................................ ................................ 93 Looking at Neoliberal Multiculturalism from Below ................................ ........... 97 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 101 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 103 Major Findings in the Study ................................ ................................ .................. 103 Caveats and Limitations ................................ ................................ ........................ 104 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 105 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 107 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 113


7 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S CCA Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano CEA Centro de Estudios Afroecuatoriano s CODAE Corporacin Desarrollo Afroecuatoriano CO NA MUNE Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Negras CPM Corporacin Promoci n Mujer Daniel Combo ni Daniel Comboni Church of the Heart of Jesus FOGNEP Federaci n de Organizaciones y Grupos Negros de Pichincha IDB Inter American Development Bank IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development I NPA Instituto Nacional de Pastoral Afroecuatoriana Mon se or Enrique Bartolucci MAEC Movimiento Afro Ecuatoriano Consciencia MDGs Millennium Development Goals MOMUNE Movimiento de Mujeres Negras de Quito OAS Organization of American States OED Servicio Austriaco de Cooperacion para el Dessarrollo Pastoral Afro Departamento de Pastoral Afro de la Conferencia Episcopal Ecuatoriano PROPEDINE Development Project for Indigenous and Afro Ecuadorian Peoples SENDAPLES Secretaria Nacional de Planificacin del Estado S PCC Secretara de Pueblos, Movimientos Sociales y Par ticipacin Ciudadana UN United Nations UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women WCAR World Conference a gainst Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance


8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts T HE MULTICULTURAL P OLITICS OF RACE AND IDENTITY : AFRO ECUADORIAN ACTIVISTS IN QUITO By Meredith Main December 2010 Chair: Faye Harrison Major: Lati n American Studies This thesis ex plores the relationship between r ace politics and black identity in Quito, Ecuador. Since 1998, the Ecuadorian state has recognized Afro descendants as a distinct ethnic group. T his change departed earlier eras, when le gislation and discourses on Ecuadorian nationalism were based on racial homogeneity. Th is research analyzes how Afro Ecuadorian activists negotiate ethnic and race cognizant identit ies in the context of recent shifts in racial politics The mat erials used include ethnographic observations from two months of participation with black social movement organizations in Quito. The analysis also draws on interview data with 35 key informants These individuals re present the state, grassroots and NGO Afro Ecuadorian organizations and a local order of the Catholic Church.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: LOCATING BLACKNESS IN ECUADOR In 2006, I was ready to travel the wor ld. I was a senior year undergraduate student an d after spending my life in school, I kept my eye on the prize: graduating and getting out of my college town. Graduation came and went and I worked several jobs for a ye ar to raise the money to pay for a one way tic ket to Quito, Ecuador. I made arrange ments to complete an exchange program to live with a host family and take Spanish courses at a local school I wanted to improve my Spanish skills somewhere in Latin America and Quito was the cheapest option I found. The little I knew of the country came from such university courses as Incas and their Ancestors, so I naively assumed that I would be living in a cold, mountainous environment surrounded by a stereotypical indigenous citizenry. Quito was cold and mountainous but I discovered that it was far more ethnically diverse than my textbooks and light reading led me to assume. A few days into my stay I was walking through town when I passed a black man unloading kegs of beer from his delivery truck to a nearby bar. I had to look again. This man w as obviously an employee of the beer distributor because he was wearing a unif orm but this did not make sense -b lack people in Ecuador? The first night I went out with my classmates at the language school in Quito my middle class mestizo host family a fte r explaining to me the p articulars on how to ji ggle the key to open the door when I returned, offered me some blunt advice. The father gave me his safety talk consisting of two rules: always take a cab and stay away from negros My jaw must have dropped because my host mother laughed and assured me that negro is not the same as nigger the issue.


10 That was certainly no t the last time I received good intentioned advice to avoid blacks, particularly in the tourist district. I was amazed by how locals of all ages openly used racial stereotypes. My naivet was only partially responsible for my surprise. Regardless, I wanted to know more about the history of Afro descendants in Ecuador and the function of race in Ecuadorian soc iety. This research is the answer to my questions. Blackness and Andeanism Blackness has maintained an ambivalent position in dominant constructions of Ecuadorian national identity. Until recently, blackness (as a social category and as a mode of e thno racial identification) was largely denied in official discourses on Ecuadorian nationalism and the significance of race was diminished when Ecuadorians explained social inequalities. Of course blacks live in Ecuador but blackness was not associated with the Andean country. In other words, blackness was incongruent to lo andino that which is Andean. Lo andino is historically constructed by Ecuadorians, foreign anthropologists, and tourists. Just as my notion of Ecuador conjured images of indigenou which does not reflect life as it truly is in Ecuador. Simply put, blacks do not fit into the Andean stereotype constructed from various sources an d accepted by many. This inaccurate version of who or what is Ecuadorian or Andean has real world implications, not least of which is the exclusion of Quito. Long held as the epicenter of progress and the embodiment of the racial and sexual history of the nation, Quito was and remains a predominately mestizo metropolis.


11 Residents display phenotypes and cultural assumptions representative of the blending of indigenous a nd Spanish European people. This configuration overlooks the negro in the city. Over the past several decades, blacks in Quito have worked against the assumptions that Quito, like the nation in general, is a mestizo place. Groups of black activists and cultural brokers have joined forces to contest hegemonic principles that assume that racism does not exist at the same time that Afro Ecuadorian histories are absent from formal spaces and whi le anti black racial stereotypes are rampant in the city. For example, Afro Ecuadorian activists are just now beginning to formally denounce white supremacist ideologies in their society that favor mestizo over indigenous and black phenotypes and cultural forms. In fact some Afro Ecuadorians mejor la raza -black activists in Quito at the center of the investi gation. I uncover how activists understand blackness and work within and around ideologies that discount the importance of race in Ecuadorian society. Who is black in Ecuador? This question runs throughout this study. Blackness is situational and laye red and therefore impossible to isolate in social theory. This is all the more difficult in a society with markedly ambiguous definitions of blackness. The category itself lends itself to common sense logic, yet it is necessary to interpr et how blackness becomes common sense and under what circumstances this idea is complicated by members of society. Moreover class, place, sex, and culture affect who


12 is black. In sum, determining who or what is black is not as si mple as quantifying who negro on a census form. Nonetheless, for the purpose of presenting demographic data to provide a social landscape of the city, I will refer to this data while acknowledging the flaws. According to the last Ecuadorian national census held in 2001, roughly 5 % of t he total population identified as either black or mulato (black and mestizo population has historically inhabited two areas: Esmer aldas, a province on the Northw est Pa cific coast and the Chota Mira V alley in the northern Sierra. The Racial and Spatial Landscape of the City Moving Through the City The spatial dimension of race and skin color is visible while travelling through the city. Take a ride on the metro bus from northern to southern Quito and you will notice that skin c olor and phenotypes change along the route. At either end of the line, re sidents have darker skin tones and indigenous and Afro descendant features, while in the middle of the trip, around La Mariscal or the business district, people have lighter skin col or and more European features. Quito has the third largest population of Afro Ecuadorians in the nation. Around 64,220 out of a total 1.6 million residents in Quito claimed Afro descent on the 2001 census. T his number represents about 3.1 % of t s population (D e la Torre 2005:62). The majority of black Quite os (residents of Quito) are concentrated in barrios populares ( lower class neighborhoods ) located in the very north of the city. These neighborhoods do not have the same amenities that are enjoyed in many other parts of Quito. For example, few Afro descendants own homes. A study conducted by the Municipal Government of Quito found that only 12,109 homes are headed by Afro


13 descendants. This number shrinks when females are isolated in the d ata (Secretara de Desarrollo Social 2008:47). Furthermore, I was told that public housing utilities and public transportation in these areas are unreliable. Some majority black neighborhoods are located on the steep mountain slopes that form the valley i n which Quito sits. Building structures in this environment are unstable due to the steep incline and the battered city buses often break down or simply do not travel to these areas. S everal majority black neighborhoods like La Bota, Carceln, C arapungo, and Atacucho became ethnic enclaves in the 1980s as structural adjustmen t programs forced people off their agricultural lands in rural areas and drew the rural population to the cities during the industrialization process. Esmeraldas and the vil lages in the C hota Mira V alley were affected by this urbanization (Fernndez Rasnes 2001) Since Afro descendant rural migrants come from northern Ecuador, they often make use of previously established social netw orks by settling in northern barrios in Quito. This makes transportation back home by bus more convenient than it would be from other home towns. Urbanization an d Racialization in the City The historical process of racialization has culturally constructed blackness and black bodies as strong, dangerous, rural and criminal (Rahier 1998). For this reason, the tens of thousands of Ecuadorians of at least partial Af rican descent that have migrated to urban Quito from the two areas typically associated with blackness in Ecuador are often viewed as foreign invaders that threaten the spatial organization of race in Ecuador. This is the case even though Afro descendants have lived in Quito


14 since the sixteenth century. The urbanization of the black population impacts the formation of black identities, particularly in the current era of multicultural citizenship. Afro Ecuadorians partake in this stereotype t h at equates black culture exclusively with these two traditional racialized areas. For example, Afro Ecuadorian activists privilege the traditional rural areas as the holders of the ancestral ethnic culture. This is significant because i n the contemporary multicultu ral era, activists are motivated to identify the essential Afro Ecuadorian culture as they seek cultural recognition and collective rights for the populati on of African descent, yet this puts activists at a disadvantage because th ose in Quito are virtually de territorialized since they no longer inhabit their native lands. In addition, Afro Ecuadorians in Quito are viewed as out of place in the city because blackness has historically been associated with Esmeraldas or the Chota Mira Valley. While it is common to see blacks in those areas, blacks are more visible in Quito, where the population is predominately mestizo. Afro descendants are racialized in Quiteo distinction. This impac ts how Afro Ecuadorians are monitored, and blackness restricts individuals with Afro descendant phenotypes from entering certain social and physical spaces. I heard accounts of blacks being denied from hotels if they were invited to spend the night with a friend. I learned that it was also common for people to lock their car doors if a black individual passed by, or for store clerks to watch black customers more closely than other patrons. I also found blacks were racially profiled by police, who held nu merous stereotypes associated with criminality, sexuality, level of intelligence, motivation, and physicality.


15 Furthermore, the job market is very restricted for black Ecuadorians. Black men usually take jobs as security guards or delivery truck drivers because of the stereotype of the strong and in timidating black male body. Paradoxically there is also an assumption that blacks are lazy and do not seek employment, which is supposedly why they ro b and engage in illicit activities Return of the ethnogr apher. This research draws on two months of ethnographic fieldwork in Quito during the summer of 2009. Prior to my arrival in Quito, I had experienced the city as a tourist and as a volunteer living in the city for seven months in 2007. During this tim e I participated in volunteer and internship projects, including a human rights internship with a local university and another internship through a Quito based NGO. These experiences helped familiarize me with the city and were a precursor to my field si te research. As part of my human rights internship, I conducted interviews with female inmates on habeas corpus violations. I was jarred by the disproportionate number of dark skinned individuals containe d there. I noticed a similar situation in my other internship position as an English and ceramics had darker skin than the majority of Ecuadorians where I lived, in a more affluent district near the center of the city. Furthermore, a large percentage of these adolescents were Colombian. Through our daily conversations I learne d several boys had been displaced by the civil unrest that plagued that country. Some were s eparated from their parents at young ages, and life in Ecuador was not easy for jobless, orphaned Colombian youth.


16 Both of these experiences led me to question the significance of skin color in Quito and how culture and race are tied to citizenship, legal ity, and space. My everyday experiences with Ecuadorians in Quito sparked my interest in color and race in the country. I am a fair skinned, blue eyed, white heterosexual female. I was raised in a middle class family in the United States and I graduat ed from a US university. While Ecuadorians did not always know all of these factors individuals often assumed some combination of them which apparently acceptable to make anti black racist remarks to me. For example, I was of ten warned by mostly middle class mestizos to avoid the tourist areas at night and to avoid blacks because they were either ladrones (robbers) prostitutes, or drug dealers. This overtly racial discourse made quite an impression on me and prompted my inte rest in racial discrimination in Quito. Shortly after concluding my work in Quito, I entered graduate school and decided to make my interest in the topic official by focusing on Afro Ecuadorians and race relations in Quito for Recent State Developments Racism is now a topic that appears in mainstream newspapers and magazines in addition to events organize d by black activists in Quito. The government now recognizes how racism permeates the structures of Ecuadorian society, in addition to personalized, face to face acts of discrimination against blacks. In other words, racism is an issue of public concern. O ne achievemen t over the last several decades of black activism in Ecuador, orchestrated primarily from Quito, is that in 2009, Ec President Raphael Correa declared racial discrimination a hate crime. To date, several


17 workshops have been offered about how to identify and denounce race based discrimination yet attendance at these events remains sparse (Escobar 2010) Moreover, Afro Ec uadorians are included as a distinct ethnic group in the 1998 and 2008 c onstitutions which codify a series of collective rights. The 1998 constitution also recommended official recognition of the Da Nacional de Afroecuatorianos ( National Afro Ecuadorian Day ), fo rmation of national government agencies like CODAE ( Coorporacin de Desarrollo Afroecuatoriano ) and local agencies such as the Programa de Desarrollo Afroecuatoriano which operates within the municipal government of Quito. In addition to his recent denoun cement of racial discrimination in Ecuadorian society, President Correa has offered new ways of conceptualizing development For instance, the National Development Plan (2007 2010) outlines strategies for the social and political inclusio n of ethnic minorities. One of these initiatives is the formation of the Ministry for Public Politics. This government ministry operates as an intermediary between the state and social movements. Within this in stitution there is a focus on Afro Ecuadori ans social movement organizations. The Ecuadorian state has made other important legislative changes, particularly with official recognition of racial disc rimination as a hate crime, implementation of affirmative action policies and reparations for Afro d escendants, and the inclusion of an ethnic question in the 2001 and 2010 national census (Escobar 2010). Scholarship on Race in Ecuador Few works investigate race relations in Ecuador. This is most likely connected to the nationally held belief that Ecuador is a raceless society and that Afro descendants do not constitute a distinguishable ethnic


18 group, in contrast to the local indigenous population. Social science research in the country is almost always concerned with the indigenous population. T here are several reasons for this pattern. First is the impact of mestizaje on Ecuadorian thinking about racial identity. A second reason is t he relatively small population of Afro descendants in the country, who did not conceive of blackness as a soci al category apart from dominant society. Third, foreign academics have until recent ly accepted local beliefs important for anthropologists. Limited by the state of the dis cipline at the time, anthropologists throughout history did not consider race as an appropriate domain for investigation. Instead, this was the territory of sociological inquiry. There are notable exceptions. Whitten ( 1986 [1974] ) and his understudy Stutzman (1981) conducted ethnographic research with black communities in San Lorenzo and Ibarra respectively. This research grounded in Marxist structural frameworks, focused on the expansio n of market capitalism and its e ffects Whitten and Torres (1 998) and Walsh and Garca (2002) have contributed to edited volumes on b lackness in Ecuador, but these were no t book length ethnographies. Whitten and Torres (1998) were concerned with placing Ecuadorians within an Afro Latin American and Caribbean diaspo ric frame, while Walsh and Garca (2002) addressed shifting political subjectivities among the Afro Ecuadorian population using postcolonial theory. There are a few scholarly works that focus on the live s of blacks in Quito. Fernnde z Rasnes (2001) pro duced a detailed ethnography on gender and sexual identities among Afro Serrano residents in a northern barrio in Quito. De la Torre (2002) made a valuable contribution to the canon with his investigation o n racial


19 discrimination This work highlighted t he structural components of discrimination in the city and emphasized the relationship of clientalism that marked interactions between black civil society organizations and the state. Studying Blackness: Race, Ethnicity and Identity. Contemporary rese arch on race and ethnicity accepts that these concepts a re social constructs while noting these ideas are lived realities. To paraphrase Harrison separated from their politi cal context, in which groups and individuals are differentially eral authors also maintain it is impossible to study the two categories separately. Taking account of the nuances of blackn ess, social science scholars stress the importance of empirical investigation and suggest that ethnographic fieldwork is most suited for the study of blackness. This argument is best illustrated by Wade in his book Race and Ethnicity in Latin America In states that a postmodernist approach to the study of blackness might show how sets of people and th at disco Yet the author suggests and this can only be done through ethnographic fieldwork the discursive construct of blackness is constantly recreated in social practices of col onization and urban migration, of development plans and political se processes are connected to, but not simply derivative of,


20 When I employ the term race, I am talking about those ethnic, subnational, culturally distinctive groups that have experienced the legacy of slavery, racial exclusion, and racial stratification. Lik e Fern andez Ras nes (2001), I take the notion of socio political needs and although the content is ever changing, has remained as an ideological construct that justifies a system classified by hierarchy, that conceives of differences to inv Ras nes 2001:31). As a researcher, I attempt ed to provide the nuanced interpretations of race, color, g ender and class that operate on the ground in Quito because there are particular constructions and ways of dealing with structurally sustained racialized inequalities. I also add ed local nuances that warrant ed the use of the concept of race. I use d the term racialization to denote the practical and proce ssua l n ature of race making -the making of differences based on hierarchies grounded in colonial formations of racial subordination. Specifically, I refer red to populations that have been ranked and stratified by cultural and physical differences historically and in the present, or placed in hierarchies of natural or biological differences. Although these for mations have changed over time, significant continuitie s still exist and have real world significance in contemporary Quito. Following Harrison (1995) I belie ve cultur e can be invoked in racialized forms and forms one pivot for organizing difference. In popular discourses, people still refer to culture and race as though thes e conce pts and lived realities are unchanging over time. That is why they retain importance and why my interpretation of the ir significance is


21 warranted. I make my best effort to see how these categories are engaged and understood in specific situations and by certain people. Field Site Description and Methods The materials used to support this research include two months of participant observation with self identified black and/or Afro Ecuadorian activists who participate in black social movement organizati o ns (SMOs) in Quito. I collected interviews with individuals representing the state, Afro Ecuadorian NGOs, and the grassroots sector. I also conducted archival research on relevant texts and state policies towards Afro descendants in Ecuador as a means to compare my ethnographic observations and my interview data. Before arriving to Quito, I contacted individuals in my initial research site, the Afro Ecuadorian cultural center NGO Hijos de Ebano, to see if I could observe the activities that took place a t the center. I was surprised to get an immediate response from the generic email address. The staff worker who responded to my email informed me that I was welcome to visit the center. The respondent may not have realized how much time I would actually pass at the center and for what length of time, although I did state this information in my original email. During my stay in Quito, I became a regular figure at the cultural house. Most of my t ime was occupied by reading relevant literature, taking no tes on events that took place while I was present or talking with the staff over tea. I complete d small tasks around the center such as sweep ing the floors, assisting groups of visitors, and sometimes babysit ting the small children of female staff members who were not able to find or pay for child care while they were working.


22 After a few weeks of observing activities and events at the center I decided to pursue other contacts. I asked the administrators if they could introduce me to acquaintances that might be willing to help me with my research project. I foll owed the networks of contacts received from Hijos de Ebano and their affiliates, such as the Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano and CODAE ( Corporacin de Dessarrollo Afroecuatoriano ). T he intervie ws I selected in this study were therefore justified based on my personal judgment. I wanted to interview people who were aligned with black social movement organizations and to employ snowball sampling. Snowball sampling provided insight into personal a nd collective connections between various groups and also made clear where fragmentation existed between organizations. Research Questions The following thesis is guided by three principle questions. First, I was concerned with identifying the main fact ors that contribute to ethnic and racial identity formations among self identified black and/or Afro descendant social movement activists in Quito. Within this first general question, I set out to answer why Afro descent has become a salient category in c ontemporary Quito. What role s have transnational actors such as NGOs, the United Nations, the Inter American Development Bank and the Catholic Church ( along with local and central government ) played in this process ? Second, I asked how and under what cir cumstances have black activists organized around race cognizance. I wanted to know how activists negotiate race based identities in light of the pervasiveness of the ideology of mestizaje To what extent does the identity claimed by the activists resonat e with the identities within their constituent commu nities? Finally, I asked what it mean s to be a black subject in Quito? How do


23 activists interpret dominant discourses on race and ethnicity? How are these concepts lived and understood in everyday life ? Methodology I dre w upon traditional qualitative ethnographic methods to answer these research questions. I believe it is important to conduct one on one interviews with self ident ified Afro Ecuadorian activists because their narrations provide ins ight into the process of political and race cognizant subject formation These individuals are not representative of the majority of blacks in Quito In depth interviews In total, I interviewed 35 people. I tried to get a distribution that would all ow me a window into th e workings of various community based organizations, the state, and NGOs. While my initial proposal was to interview only self identified black or Afro descendant individuals associated with Afro Ecuadorian organizations, I did inter view individuals who did not identity this way. I interviewed non Afro descendant state employee s from the Ministry of Culture and the Consejo Provencial de Pichincha a mestiza woman who taught dance lessons at Hi jos de Ebano and two consultants that id entified as mulato/a I also held an informal interview with an elderly gentleman who identified as moreno. To supplement this data, I had numerous conversations with people or overheard bits of dialogue along the way that add ed layers of ethnographic in formation to my analysis. These informal experiences enriched my knowledge of the socio and helped build a foundation for friendship between myself and my research consultants


24 Archival Analysis I nterv iew material was integrated with archive material from relevant organizations and government aggregate data. I reviewed various texts in local libraries, popular newspapers, and Afro Ecuadorian cultural centers. This research strategy gave me a sense of the social life in Quito in addition to how activists represented themselves and how blackness was represented in government statistics, cultural brochures, and socio religious texts. For example, I collected and analyzed several books, pamphlets, and ne wsletters published by two local orders affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Daniel Comboni Church and the Pastoral Afro in order to understand the ideology of the Church and the way that race, blackness, and identity are represented by that instituti on. Ethical Dilemmas During my research, I encountered certain ethical dilemmas that are addressed here First, there was an issue with intellectual property rights. On one occasion, I was house to celebrate a family get togethe r. After the relatives left, the host saw that I had my audio recorder with me so she asked to hear my interviews with other research co nsultants. I explained to her this was not possible because under contract, I was not able to share any information w ith others. She became visibly angry and accused me of stealing the knowledge of her people. This was certainly a difficult situation to navigate and I restated my intention to give my research consultants a copy of the thesis once completed for its po tential use as a reference or resource for black activists in Quito. The woman still questioned my motive s. Fortunately, her university age d daughter was present and she deflated the situation by explaining the


25 confidentiality agreement to her mother. Still, this experience illustrated the highly sensitive nature of the research I was conducting The research was also problematic at times because of the difficult and contradictory nature of race itself. I made my best effort to silence my US centric conceptualization of race working hard to offset my presumptions of race and blackness. For instance, this issue raised a conceptual spatial dilemma for me as a researcher. At times it is not obvious where blackness begins and ends. As an anthropologi st I was forced to learn the cultural grammar and the conceptual associations Ecuadorians make in regards to race. A Note on Terminology Throughout this thesis I use the terms Afro Ecuadorians, blacks, Afro descendants and Ecuadorians of African origin to refer to persons of African descent, some of whom may not self identify in this way. I realize that these are socially and politically constructed categories, and I recognize that they are problematic. However, much of the literature on Afro d escendants in Latin America and official discourses on race and ethnicity in Ecuador reflect this lexicon. Each of these signifiers is entangled with personal, historical, class, generationa l and gendered tones. My aim was to instantiate some of these di mensions in this thesis and to demonstrate how they are applied on the ground in Quito and in what circumstances. Some of these terms are based on local vernaculars. However, some come from my analytical context as a researcher. I mad e my best effort t o merge both understandings of the concepts at work so these terms are part of the situated knowledge of my research participants and my own situated knowledge as social


26 scientist. I had to speak between the literature of social science and the language of the people in situ in real life, everyday situations. Outline of the Study In Chapter 1, the introduction, I discussed the purpose of the study, why I chose the topic, and why this research is significant to a broader audience. I stated the question s to be answered in the following pages, presented a brief introduction to the study site and explained the methodology I used to answer my guiding questions. Chapter 2 evaluates the national and international factors that contribute to black identity fo rmation in Ecuador. I take a diachronic approach to trace the history of Afro descendants in what is today Ecuador. I use this strategy because Afro Ecuadorian intellectual activists (Afro Ecuadorians who are both scholars and activists) in Quito include all Afro descendants as part of their racial lineage in their contemporary political practices of the intellectual activist s in this study. Chapter 2 is divided into two parts. The first part of the chapter begins with the origins of slavery and colonization and the formation of racial hierarchies in colonial Ecuador. I demonstrate how there were various social layers of wha t researchers today rooted in the dehumanization of individuals with Afro descendant phenotypes and cultural formations. For this reason, social mobility was restric ted for peoples who were racialized in this way. Later in the section I discuss the role of mestizaje (racial and cultural mixture) in Ecuadorian racial ideologie s. I move my analysis to the twentieth century to review the connections between race, devel opment, modernization and the


27 ideology of mestizaje This concept has a continued effect on social relations in Ecuador today. This negation or exclusion of blackness as an ethnic and political category from Ecuadorian nationalism sets the stage for my discussion on the emergence of blackness as an ethno political category in the lat e twentieth century. I outline some of the race cognizant mobilizations that took place on the international scale and how these events set off a dialogue about race and rac ial discrimination in Latin America amongst some urban intellectuals. I also review local struggles for political democratization during this period which opened up civil society and created a more heterogeneous space to make demands on the state. After this discussion I bring in the importance of structural adjustments in Latin America and Ecuador during the 1980s and 1990s and the effect of these policies on increasing poverty along racial and color lines. I also outline scholarly discussions on the r elationship between new social movements, neoliberal structural adjustment and multicultural reforms. Later, I factor in the institutions and international development agendas that have impacted black identity formation, particularly the Catholic Church, American Development Bank, and the United Nations. In the last section of the chapter, I return to the importance of human rights, the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in Durban and the preceding conferences because these events had a significant impact on race cognizant individuals across Latin America. In particular, these events


28 were the first to establish Afro descent as a t ransnational socio political category that changed personal understandings of race and African heritage in local contexts. Chapter 3 zooms in on Quito. I sketch out the various sites where black identities are created, and offer a background on my res earch groups. Later, I turn to interview material with Afro Ecuadorian activists, cultural workers, and state employees to understand how these individuals interpret and negotiate ethno racial identities in the context of recent constitutional reforms, et hno cultural development projects and international development projects today. I also discuss the efforts of Afro Ecuadorians to promote the ethnic or racial question on the 2010 national census and how this is linked with the recognition of difference a nd the politics of international funding. In Chapter 4, I analyze some of the important dimensions that arise when black activists engage with multiculturalism and interculturalism as both practices and ideas. Specifically, I focus on the interplay between culture race and politics, seen through the lens of ethnographic examples and individual testimonies pr ompted by two events : an intercultural education program and a workshop organized by activists to discuss the election of U.S. President Obama After highlighting the relevant scholarly lit erature on multiculturalism, neoliberal multiculturalism, and interculturalism, I weave in individual testimonies on the efficacy of state policies that relate to these concept s Following this discussion, I d emonstrate how these issues operate in practice. I review some ethno development projects in Quito in which the state and the Inter American Development Bank exercise some control over program content and the cultural politics involved in the process. Fo r example, funders usually prioritize dance and music performances. I present my


29 observations from a state funded intercultural program held at an Afro Ecuadorian cultural center NGO, Hijos de Ebano, as a way to address how these programs reduce Afro Ecua blackness can only exist in the two areas traditionally associated with Afro Ecuadorians: the Chota Mira Valley and Esmeraldas. Chapter 5, the c onclusion, ties the arguments tog ether. I discuss the major findings of my research and offer the implications of these findings for the study of race and blackness in Latin America while stating the caveats. I noted that due to the small sample size and the particularities of my resear ch site, I cannot extrapolate my research findings beyond the study population. However, I place these findings in a broader context of Latin American social movements for the purpose of discussion and comparison. Lastly, I recommend areas for further in vestigation and describe my research goals for the future.


30 CHAPTER 2 FORMING BLACK IDENTITIES IN ECUADOR Peoples of African descent in Ecuador, some of whom identify themselves as Afro descendants are now recognized as a distinct ethno cultural and polit ical group in international human rights discourse, the national constitution, and increasingly the everyday lives of black activists. This is by no means a natural or inevitable phenomenon. Similar to other parts of Latin America, blackness in Ecuador has not typically been associated with political capacity. In this chapter I address why this has been the case and provide historical insights into how black activists have organized around a shared history of racialization and a common Afro descendant identity. So why have race and African heritage emerged today as important institutional and organizational modes of experiencing and expressing blackness? Why are there thousands of social movement organizations throughout the hemisphere which focus on black discrimination, and collective land and/or contain blackness from the vantage point of NGOs and states? Chapter Overv iew In the f irst part of this chapter I discuss the systematic erasure of African origin in conventional Latin American historical narratives of national identity. Then I describe the rise of black social movement s during the last half of the twentieth c entury which respond to neoliberal globalization, social exclusion, the activities of the Catholic Church, and the international development agenda. I detail how these sources impact racial difference making and race cognizance. Later in the chapter, I f ocus on the multicultural constitutional reform processes in Latin America, and how legislative


31 changes have affect ed black subject formation. Finally I sketch the particular path towards black identity formation in Ecuador and the creation of contempora ry s ocial movements in Quito that position blackness and African origin as key hinges that unite race cognizant peoples of African descent across Latin American societies. The quote below, made by an black intellectual activist not closely affiliated to N GOs or Afro Ecuadorian government agencies, addressed a point that was central to this research. Ecuadorian. We are Black. Ecuadorian. Like you are American, not European American Diego 1 black Ecuadorian Activist Why is this comment worth analyzing? First, this educated male activist used a racial term to identify himself and my racial identifier (white Anglo) was left absent. As Diego points out, I do not identify as Europe an American and Europe is not an important part of my everyday lif e. Second, Diego was curious why self identified Afro Ecuadorian activists adopt a hyphenated identity that is rooted in African heritage. After all, he later explained, that is history th at occurred over 500 years ago. I will look back to the arrival of Africans in the Americas to see how this history began. Origins: Colonization and Slavery Enslaved Africans arrived to the Americas upon the authority of Spanish colonists beginning in the sixteenth century. Africans were forced to work on plantations, on large haciendas and in gold mines to develop the colony The enslavement of Africans was justified by contemporary philosophical and scientific beliefs which 1 Throughout this thesis I use pseudonyms to protect the confidentiality of my research consultants. However, I use the real name of an individual when they are public figures. All interviews were conducted in Spa nish and translated to English by the author.


32 deemed the people of that continent subhuman. Native peoples of the Americas, in turn, were protected by the Catholic Church because they were granted a special minority status This relationship was one of dependence in that native peoples in the Americas were see n as minors in need of protection. Therefore they could not be enslaved like Africans. Africans in the Americas represented numerous ethnic groups and spoke different languages. While this population was colonized by Spanish colonists in similar ways there was not an all encompassing black or African category w hich activists point to today. H istorians who have conducted archival research in colonial and national registries note that during the colonial period peoples born in the continent today know n as Africa, and their descendants were identified by various categories, among them bozales, libres, pardos, esclavos, castas or zambos (Fernndez Rasnes 2001) This practice differs from the rule of hypodescent that characterizes race relations in most of the United States. Color, gender, and slave status impacted the lives and social positions of Afro descendant peoples. There are several incidents of resistance to slavery both in pre republican and post revo lutionary Ecuador. In some cases, enslaved Africans formed fortified colonies of runaways known as palenques or maroon societies. For example, a maroon colony formed in the area today known as Esmeraldas 2 Tardieu (2006) details this legacy in a recentl el negro 2 Afro Ecuadorian intellectual struggles within the Afro Latin American social movement. For instance, the so called Reino or King of the aforementioned maroon colony, Alonso de Illescas (1553 1582), is now named the official hero of the Afro Ecuadorian people and is recognized in the Ecuadorian constitution (Snchez 2008).


33 author states that following a ship wreck off of the coast of Esmeraldas, enslaved Africans on the vessel seized the accident as an opportunity to escape into the wild brush Guided by an individual named Alonso de Illescas, this group established the Zambo Republic, named for the practice of zambaje or raci al mixture between indigenous and Afro 42) research also found that Spanish and stupidity of Illescas. Additional comments describe Illescas as a strong figure that represented the untamab le coast of Esmeraldas. T hese ideologies undoubtedly worked together to fo rm racial ized stereotypes about the area and its people. Other acts of black resistance to slavery and related forms of subordination include legal partitioning for emancipation and Afro descendant participation in the wars of independence due to the promise of freedom offered for those who joined the Creole army against Spain. This promise was not fulfilled. After fighting for independence and helping to establish the republic of Ecuador, blacks remained enslaved. In fact formal emancipation in E cuador would not come until 1853. Even then, slavery was still practiced de facto for decades after the ordinance was established (Fern ndez Ras nes 2001). Elsewhere in the Americas with larger populations of Afro descendants the formal practice of sl avery continued well into the late 1800s I n Brazil and Cuba, the material and ideological connection with Africa continued. This is especially the case during certain historical moments and socio religious circumstances as Matory ( 2005) explains with the Afro Brazilian religion of candombl This association was lost in the Andes. African origin waned in significance during the process of creating Spanish American


34 republics as elites were focused on forming a cohesi ve national body that stood unit ed aga inst Spanish colonization. The modes of nation state formation that followed relied on the ideology of mixture and assimilation (Andrews 2004) For example, Lasso (2007) argues that the wars of independence h ad a deep impact on social relations and state forming processes and that the national modernizing formulas aimed to wash out the African connection by assimilation to a mestizaje people. Mestizaje and Blanqueamiento Ecuadorian national ideologies and dom inant historical narratives on Ecuatorianidad (Ecuadorianness) have played a key role in racial identity formation and social relations in Ecuador. Mestizaje the idea of racial and cultural mixture, was the dominant mode of nation building and social str ucturing in many Latin American nations. National development agendas during the period that the ideology of mestizaje was created and consolidated (from the early twentieth century until the1990s) were based on political, economic and cultural modernizat ion and blacks and Indians were seen by white and mestizo elites as presenting obstacles to this process (Becker 2007). Underlying these efforts was the ideology of blanqueamiento (social and cultural whitening). Racial and cultural whitening was promote d both through white European immigration policies and social norms based on Euro centric ideas of progress. In an effort to theorize this policy, Whitten and Torres (1998:8) define blanqueamiento processes of becoming increasingly acceptable to t hose classified and self identified as Torres ignore. For instance, some indigenous and black Ecuadorians are subject to criticisms for whitening within their own commu nities. Thus, whitening is not always


35 desirable in Ecuadorian society. Rather, this was a dominant ideology and traditional spaces of power were mostly reserved for white and mestizo culture and phenotypes. Most scholars of Ecuadorian racial identity have conceptualized mestizaje as a hegemonic framework. It has often been argued that mestizaje, as an ideology works by a false sense of inclusion or belonging (Wade 1993; Whitten and Torres 1998; Stutzman 1981; Friedemann and Arocha 1986). In reference to Colombian mestizaje Wade (1993:3) posited that because the Colombian project of modernization aligned with a mestizo national identity, both blacks and Indians could either be excluded as non mestizo In this way, mestizaje is an ambivalent discourse and social practice. This viewpoint is best articulated by Cultural Transformations and Ethnicity in Modern Ecuador that mestizaje Although mestizaje European, and Indian roots, this ideology intends to whiten the body politic, and thus in the minds of dominant society, modernize it. Rahier (1998) and Whitten and Torres (19 98) insist that in Ecuador, blackness and indigeneity are believed to fall off of the path to modernity, or be left behind in a hermetic seal of primitivism. Hence, while racial cultural representation s they are excluded from important social and political arenas. Furthermore, in most cases, structural ra cism restricts the upward socio economic mobility of blacks in everyday life. Other scholars such as Sansone (2003) emphasize that mestizaje is not simply an elite creation imposed from the top down. This author insists that mestizaje is a


36 social fact that complicates race relation s throughout Latin America. Many people who are excluded from mestizaje in practice, d ue to their blackness or lack of racial mixture are still invested in the principle of mestizaje This is a principle reason why activists who fight for respect from society at large regardless of the amount of whiteness they demonstrate, are seriously q uestioned by their co nationals of all ethnic backgrounds who do not interpret racial divisions. In fact, many Latin Americans uphold the idea that race based activism will only create social fissures that do not otherwise exist (Sansone 2003: 196) I w il l demonstrate how these ideas, specifically related to their ambiguities, function in practice later in this thesis. Race, Development and Nation Building in the Early 20 th Century Similar to other Latin American contexts, in Ecuador, n ational developmen t agendas have been intricately tied to the ideology and practice of mestizaje. In the first half of the twentieth century, the developmentalist attitude of the Ecuadorian military government inspired nation building projects that spanned the entirety of the national territory. This era was marked by the need to protect the growing nation both economically through import substitution industrialization and in defense of imperialist encroachment sometimes under the guise of the threat of communism (Andrew s 2004). D isputed national boundaries with neighboring nations were a fundamental concern to the Ecuadorian government during this period Precisely because the Ecuadorian government was unsure in its control over the forming borders with Colombia, Brazi l and Peru, the military launched a series of programs to track, record and map the territory of Ecuador (Radcliffe 2010) This included gaining control of the predominately blac k region of Esmeraldas situated on the Colombian frontier.


37 Before this time, Esmeraldas had been largely ignored and remained under the control of cimarrones (the descendants of maroon rulers ) As mentioned earlier, this area was racialized through b iological and cultural narratives. For example, there are created threats of contamination through biological assimilation (Tardie u 2006) When assimilation was necessary, these beliefs became an obstacle for Ecuadorian elites. To the twenieth cen tury modernist elite mind, the Northwest C oast was crystallizing as the uncivil, anti modern racialized region that national elites hop ed to leave behind on the path to national development. Development in this area had to be undertaken through the creation of infrastructure and institutions such as roads, schools, and churches. Due to infrastructural weaknesses, the Ecuadorian state r elied heavily upon Catholic missionaries to maintain order and Christianize locals so that they would become recruits to the national body politic. As a result, Christian missionaries had a large impact on the region. I will return to this point later on in the chapter, because the Church has played a significant role in the formation of black identities in Ecuador. The Emergence of Blackness as a Racial and Political Category In this part of the chapter I focus on the formation race cognizant identities in Ecuador and outline the social, economic and political conditions that led to the formation of race cognizant identities in Ecuador. Over the course of the last decade of the twenieth century, several Latin American countries adopted multicultural con stitutions that recognized the multiethnic and pluricultural characteristics of the nation. This legislation conferred various important collective rights to ethnic and cultural minorities. It is argued that multicultural reform made ethnic identities po litical in


38 an official sense, and increased the regional dialogue on blackness. This would not have been possible had there not been a system of institutional networks already in place. However, the black social movements that consolidated in the 1990s a nd were recognized by the state during the decade marked a new phase in black identity politics in Ecuador and the region in general What is significant to this research is the fact that some Afro descendants mobilized under a racial identity, which was previously thought impossible. Late 20 th Century International Developments The civil rights struggles in the United States and the liberation movements in Portuguese and South Africa during the middle of the twentieth century intensified processes of race cognizant identity formation for certain Latin Americans of African origin, although some more than others. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, primarily urban intellectuals in Latin America that self identified as negro began to study the black move ment s and black intellectuals of this period (Snchez 2 008) In response, organizations formed in recognition of anti black racism. For example, in Brazil, the Movimento Negro Unificado formed in 1978 ( Hanchard 1994) 3 This predominately urban middle class movement was influenced by the racial and color based discrimination that peoples with African phenotypes experienced as they attempted to enter higher socio economic spaces. Aware of what was happ ening in other parts of the hemisphere, b eginning in the 1970s, blacks in Colombia and Ecuador began to research the Negritud movement, which was based on the valorization of blackness. Through this research black 3 This was not the first black identified movement. Prior to 1978 there were intellectual centered race identified black movements. The editors of No Longer Invisible (1995) provide a summary of this history.


39 intellectuals began to associate their experiences with Afro descendants in their country and abroad. Andrews (2004) notes that while black intellectuals in the area were aware of African American struggles of the 1950s and 1960s to dismantle racial discrimination and obtain affirmative action policies, it was during the 1970s that Afro descendants embraced the works of black thinkers and political actors like Martin Luther King, (Andrews 2004:183). However, the influence of the civil rights movement in the United States and of struggles against colonialism and later apartheid in Africa should not be overstated. Racial identification was not as developed as it is today and the United States was still held as a p oint of comparison for why race is not as significant in Latin America. Furthermore, racialized struggles were only r elevant to certain Afro Latin Americans The Opening of Civil Society What aided the formation of ethnic and racial cognizance was the op ening of civil society. Ecuador, like many Latin American nations, underwent a period of government model was displaced by a democratic form of governance. The dismantling of a uthoritarian rule created space from which citizens could make claims against the state, whereas they were previously suppressed in the context of brutal authoritarian dictatorships. Scholars such as Escobar and Alvarez (1992) and Yashar (2005) suggest t hat the democratization of Latin American states since the1980s, and the opening of civil society, created the proper socio political context for new social movements to form. These movements are characterized by their organization around identity. Many social


40 scientists who subscribe to new social movement theory cite the increased poverty and social inequality that resulted from neoliberal structural adjustment reforms as an impetus for these social movements. It is argued that the aforementioned refor ms disproportionately affected women, Afro descendants and indigenous peoples (Escobar and Alvarez 1992). In other words, neoliberalism became a common enemy against I will discuss thi s dynamic in the following section. Structural Adjustment, Neoliberal Development During the 1980s, Ecuador implemented structural adjustment programs which led to privatization, market deregulation, political liberalization, and decreased state spend Ecuador, structural adjustment coincided with a tumultuous period of political in stability, weak state institutions, and high rates of corruption. During this time, several Latin American governments went bankrupt because of their inability to repay international loans that had been borrowed for various public works, new enterprises, and state development projects. As was the case throughout much of the region, the Ecuadorian state was not able to provide f or civilians who were struggled in a tough political and economic climate (Snchez 2007) First World nations develope d a social, political and economic repayment strategy for struggling Latin American governments. Multilateral institutions like the Inter American Development Agency and the World Bank stepped in to send money to these nations under the condition that the y adopt structural adjustment measures. F urthermore, the neoliberal economic system accelerated in Latin America during the


41 1980s. Neoliberalism loosely refers to an open market economic system in which the size of states diminish while the private secto r expands. The underlying philosophy is that market deregulation will lead to increased productivity and less government because they are not under str ict government control. Third W orld countries are particularly vulnerable to this order because of the disproportionate economic and political power that First World countries exert over these nations. These policies, which are linked to global integration and the ex pansion of neoliberal policy and ideology, have exacerbated inequalities and worsened racial discrimination (Harrison 2005; Mullings 2008b). The combination of exacerbated racial inequality, a shrunken state, and the rise of trans national race consciousne ss led blacks in Latin America to mobilize in a united front to gain recognition, and demand rights and resources. Accommodations once provided by the state were transformed into rights to be won. Paradoxically, the same pains experienced by these minori ties are those which bring them together. It could be argued that the largest accomplishment of this collective resistance culminated in the multicultural constitutional reform. Multicultural Reform M ulticultural ism is based on the principle that due to ethnic diversity within nations, it is necessary to delineate specific rights for ethnic minorities. This body of legislation emphasizes issues of land rights, citizenship reforms, economic improvement, and affirmative action. The relationships betwe movement actors, neoliberal economic reforms, and multicultural reforms have been analyzed by social scientists of various disciples. Yashar (2005) and Van Cott (2000) argue that multicultural reforms are the result of a combination between certain


42 preceding factors including the demilitarization of Latin American governments, the dismantling of authoritarian rule and political liberalization, that created the right social and political c onditions for ethnic mo vements. These movements, in turn, pressured local governments into constitutional reform. Thes e factors include the demilitarization of Latin American governments, the dismantling of authoritarian rule and political liberalization. Other analysts place more emphasis on the role of multilateral develo pment agencies and the state in the move toward s multicultural reforms. These research ers, including D e la Torre (2002) and Hale (2002) suggest that multicultural reforms in Latin American governments are not completely the result of subaltern pressures. I n fact Hale (2002) suggests that multiculturalism can work jointly with neoliberal economic policies and ideologies. NGOs and the Development Agenda The restructuring of the state, which entailed the decentralization and reallocation of state functions to other sites of governance has led to an increased r ole of NGOs, (Hale 2004) and the Church in Latin America. Whereas the state was previously responsible for tending to the needs of its citizens, new actors have com e onto the scene to take on this responsibility. The formation of grassroots organizations in Ecuador and other Latin American countries was facilitated in collaboration with domestic and international NGOs and the Catholic Church. The global and region al development agenda calls for the ethno development of ethnic minorities. Ethno development is premised on the idea that ethno cultural groups should modernize in their own ways, which are separate from dominant society.


43 Policies include the separation of ethnic education such as bilingual education for indigenous peoples and self multicultural perspective, ethno outsourcing development to communities a nd NGOs in order to relinquish t his initiative from the state (D e la Torre 2002). Furthermore, NGOs often focus on cultural rather than social initiatives. What is important to note is that both NGOs and the contemporary development plans reaffirm ethnic differences and have thus contributed to thinking about the significance of these differences in Latin American societies. The Catholic Church While the Catholic Church has always had a significant presence in Latin America, it is important to conside assistance and influences the formation of black identities. Catholic orders throughout the region have collaborated closely with Afro descendants to form faith based organizations (FBOs) that work within the multidimensional framework of spiritual, socio economic and ethnic development. Reforms made by Pope Paul VI as part of the Second Vatican Council (1962 1965) altered the contemporary social development agenda of the Catholic Church. For instance, the Church is motivated to work with Afro descendants not only because of an evangelization agenda but also due to guilt that it admits for the colonization of African and indigenous peoples. One particular order of the Catholic Church operates in this framework in Ecuador but also in other parts of the globe including Africa, North America, and Central and South America. This society within the Church, the Daniel Comboni of the Heart of Jesus, is guided by the philosophy of living among the Af ro descendant people, because they are among the poorest and most subordinated groups. Daniel Comboni


44 was an Italian missionary who travelled to Africa in the nineteenth century on a religious mission. Later, he formed a separate order based on his exper ience in Africa. Today, there are thousands of Daniel Comboni Churches. Daniel Comboni missionaries who base their work on ethno racially identified black peoples, have played a key role in descendant popula tion. Human Rights The global human rights agenda has also been a major factor in the creation of race cognizance and a fundamental impetus for anti racial discrimination movements in Ecuador and the African Diaspora in general. Since the end of World W ar II, human rights have been an important item on the global social justice agenda. This body of standards, regulations, and laws delineate universal protections for all human beings. The United Nations coordinates the international human rights effort and is linked to international NGOs that are committed to social, economic, cultural and ethnic rights of Afro descendant peoples. For some time now, Ecuador has been officially committed to several individual and collective human rights that apply to Af ro descendants and indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, many of these rights have not been realized in practice. For example, several countries have adopted civil rights protections that are supposedly defended by anti discrimination prohibitions yet the s mall number of court cases that prosecute racial discrimination claims in each country attests to how ineffective these measures are in practice (Wade 2006) This appears to be true in Ecuador, where many Ecuadorians are not even aware of human rights, let alone the formal processes to denounce race based violations. Nonetheless, hum an rights contribute to racial identity formation and encourage a sense of political and racial community at the local and international level.


45 Mobilizing for rights evokes a sense of empowerment, has the potential to lead to social change, and produces a language of rights that is incorporated into national legislation and loc al social movement vernaculars. In the next section, I discuss how these factors have influenced the Afro Ecuadorian social movement in Quito. The Formation of Black Social Movem ent Organizations in Quito The literature on Afro Ecuadorian social movements in Quito suggests that the contemporary movement is rooted in organizational efforts made during the 1970s. Informal black organizations and study groups were first established in Quito during the late 1970s (Tadeo 1998) Initially, middle class black university students congregated to exchange idea s and literature with a Marxist Leftist ideology. Over time, Daniel Comboni missionaries aided this small c ommunity with organizati onal matter s and provided financial support to the cause of black resistance to Eurocentric social norms which devalued blacks in Ecuador. Below, I present a basic summary of this history in order to provide a context for the efforts of black activists an d institutions in Quito today. 1980s 1990 The Daniel Comboni Church was very involved in the initial formation of black organizations in Quito. In later years, secular NGOs have also stepped in to support branches of the initial grassroots black organiz ations affiliated with Daniel Comboni and the Pastoral Afro, a black inculturation program found in black communities throughout Latin America. There are conflicting accounts of who, when and what created black social movements in Quito. Tadeo (1 998) insists that the first black cultural center was formed in 1979 by a group of university students from four different Ecuadorian provinces. This group was organized around the populist principles of the Frente Unitario de Trabajadores (FUT). This c enter, the Centro de Estudios Afroecuatorianos


46 (CEA) provided a space for raising black consciousness by investigating and identifying the Pueblo Negro. The group conducted archival research and catalogued oral histories that the students recorded during interviews with blacks in rural Ecuadorian provinces (Tadeo 1998:68 70). According to Tadeo (1998) during the 1980s, Daniel Comboni missionaries stepped in and began to fund the center and assist with the consolidation process. For example, the Comboni s helped to create the Movimiento Afroecuatoriano Conciencia (MAEC). The MAEC provided the impetus for the First Conference of Black Women in the Americas in the year 1983. The relationship between the Combonis and these first black organizations and tra nsnationa l forums is unclear. In fact, D e la Torre (2002) maintains that the Comboni missionaries were involved in supporting the center from the beginning. However, Tadeo (1998) and D e la Torre (2002) agree that the Combonis helped to form several black organizations fr om 1985 to 1990. The Combonis sponsored a generation of black social movement leaders in Quito, many of whom are missionaries, state workers, or activists at the grassroots or in NGO sectors today. Comboni priests and nuns also helped to create several i mportant institutions, organizations and works of literature relevant to Afro Ecuadorians in the country. For instance, the Combonis facilitated the formation of the Afro Ecuadorian pastoral order under the Conferencia Episcopal Ecuatoriana, which locals refer to as the Pastoral Afro One important institution that arose from the collaboration between the Pastoral Afro and the Combonis was the INPA (National Institute of Pastoral Afro Ecuadorian Monseor Enrique Bartolucci). INPA employs black pastoral a gents to collect data and conduct


47 research on Afro descendants in Ecuador and in other parts of the region. The material collected is not strictly related to black spirituality (D e la Torre 2002). In sum, the activities that took place during this period were primarily educational and were not necessarily political or racialized. 1990s: The Multicultural Turn and the Formation of Black Identities The 1990s marked a turning point in black identity formation and mobilization in Quito During this period the Ecuadorian government embraced neoliberal economic development in a greater degree than previous eras, the global discourse on multiculturalism increased, and the government experienced a massive economic crisis that was related to a drop in oil pric es (Snchez 2008). Specifically ethnic or cultural demands arose in this broader context of economic structural adjustment and increased poverty across the region (Yashar 1998) Furthermore, it was during this period that ethnicity became a principal focus of political concern. Participation in Afro Ecuadori an organizations increased significantly with the constitutional process. Activists were influenced by the fact that black identity had already been institutionalized in other Latin American contexts. The move towards the legal recognition (and formation ) of the black community in Colombia during the early 1990s, for example, was a major referent for Afro Ecuadorian social movement leaders. Based on this expanded level of ethnic consciousness, Afro descendants in Quito and throughout the Americas offered a significant presence to the event that consolidated a transnational, Afro Latin American identity amongst black peoples in the region: the Third World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance (WCAR).


48 The importance of WCAR for Afro Latin Americans and Afro Ecuadorians While counter hegemonic struggles have a long history in Ecuador and throughout the region, the 2001 WCAR event was a landmark event for black identity politics in the region. This co nference is considered a key shift in the recognition of transnational descendant identity. Some activists with whom I spoke during my fieldwork in Quito underscored the significance of WCAR for their unde rstandings of race and politics at the global and local levels. This conference and its parallel NGO activities were attended by over 8,000 participants representing governments and grassroots sectors from all over the world (Mullings 2008a:193). Safa (2005) states that one major achievement of the organizing process for Durban was the Latin American regional conference held in Santiago, Chile in 2000. During this meeting, Latin American and Caribbean governments acknowledged for the first time that slavery was a crime against humanity and the effects of slavery that were still experienced at the turn of the 21 st century, through pronounced poverty and social exclusion of Afro descendants in the region. Reflecting on the implications of the WCAR, Harrison (2002:53) points out that a growing threat to human rights, particularly those of racially subordinated peoples, are the violations emanating from the global apartheid. Mullings (2008b) and Harrison (2002) draw on the earlier definition of Booker and Minter (2001:5) and conceptualize em of minority rule whose attributes include: differential access to basic human rights; wealth and power structured by race and place; structural racism, embedded in global economic processes political institutions and cultural assumptions; and the inter national practice of double standards that


49 (Mullings 2008b:16). Today, the political discourse on global apartheid has been appropriated by black activists in Quito. Intellectual activists, some of whom attended WCAR and the preparatory meetings, now envision social injustice in terms of historical racial inequities. Instead of simply referring to class differences, race cognizant activists link limited opportunities for health, education and social advancement to the processes of racialization that occur locally and globally. Discussion Ethno racial identities are linked to social and racial policies of the state, which change during periods of national reconstruction. It is important to analyze state policies towards Afro descendants in a historical context to understand the particular circumstances that shape racial identities and use technologies of the state t o maintain the hierarchies of power and racial stratification. Over the course of the last decade of the twentieth century, several Latin American countries adopted multicultural constitutions that recognized the multiethnic and pluricultural characterist ics of the nation, and outlined various important collective rights for ethnic minorities. The recent rise in political activism from black Latin American NGOs, spurred by the politics of multicultural citizenship that have emerged under the neoliberal re gimes of the 1980s and 1990s has created new voices that both critique neoliberal multicultural forms of government and are subject to state and international tendencies towards neutralizing their efforts. Daniel Comboni missionaries, urban intellectuals and the grassroots organizations formed in collaboration with both of the latter had already begun the


50 process towards categorizing blacks as a discrete ethno racial group. This process was consolidated on one hand by pronounced inequalities rooted in r acial difference s The racialized social gaps were partially the result of neoliberal structural adjustment measures, and the intensification of capitalist global economic integration. The international development and global human rights agenda also inf luenced race cognizance among blacks in Quito. These factors helped to create avenues for blacks to alleviate inefficiencies in the new order and to assess the importance of race in It is in this socio historical context that the ethnographic material in Chapter 3 is situated.


51 CHAPTER 3 ARTICULATIONS OF BLA CKNESS: IDENTITIES, IDENTIFICATIONS AND CULTURAL POLITICS In the months before my field research proposal was due, I pe rused the internet to find information on Afro Ecuadorian cultural organizations in Quito. I was particularly intrigued by one organization that posted pictures of members dressed in traditional West African garments standing in front of red, black and g old banners The organization referred to the African diaspora or a collective Afro heritage I did not expect to find this overt Africana display I questioned what this meant to the individuals pictured on the website and how this was a performance of black identity. Today, some Afro descendant activists in Quito have adopted the hyphenated Afro Ecuadorian identification by Afro descendants throughout the hemisphere A s I explained in Chapter 2, the term Conference in Durban and the earlier preparatory meetings In considering the importance of the Afro descendant identification, Safa (2005) suggest ed that the shift re presented a reclaiming of African cultural roots and the politicizati on of black identity commonalities (whether political or not) across the region. These commonalitie s are by individual activists. In this chapter, I present activist narratives on race, identity and blackness. I also give examples of how a ctivists react to imp osed identities and address thematic issues on the connection between racialization and black identity politics. The narratives included here w e re situated within a socio historical context in which black s in Quito


52 have access to an array of resources not previously available. New spaces are thus created for the expression of identity while opening a discussion about rights, needs, and world views particular to this sector of the population. This is partially because i nternational and local power holders and cultural brokers are linked to the struggles of black people in Quito but it is also the result of decades of black activism This chapter sheds light on the ambiguities of blackness that arise fr om this relationship. M y aim is to show how various subjectivities form the Afro Ecuadorian activist community at the focus of this research. Chapter Overview The chapter begins by reviewing th e scholarly literature on ethno political identification. Next, I turn to interviews with activists from var ious positions within y. I try to understand how these individuals interpret the Afro Ecuadorian identity, and I provide information on the associations, institutions and agencies wi th whom they are associated. Inter view material is broken into three clusters. T he first group of interviews is with activists who hold leadership positions, including intellectual activists, state employees and cultural workers. Narratives from grassroots sector activists constitute th e second sample The grassroots activists with whom I spoke represented two separate organizations: Perlas de Africa and Panela Low income, female domestic workers compose the majority of both organizations. Perlas de Africa is affiliated with the Dan iel Comboni Church. T he other organization, Panela is directed towards socio economic development and does not have external affiliations Daniel Comboni is the focus of the third grouping. Only one interview, with an Afro Esmeraldeo male, was include d but I complement his testimony with a review of certain texts printed by Daniel Comboni and an affiliated


53 institution, the Pastoral Afro. This allows me to show how Combonis emphasize the importance of Africa. I n the final section o f the chapter, I add ress thematic issues that arise from the interplay between race, culture and politics. Research on Assuming Political Identities During her fieldwork with Afro Brazilian female grassroots activists in Brazil, Caldwell (2007) found that her research consu ltants made a conscious effort to assume a political identity through embracing the term negra, which literally means black. In Portuguese, she explains, the verb assumir identity that an individual takes on a another anthropologist who works with black women in Brazil, also noted that women referred to the politicization of identity as a process of assuming oneself. She writes that to become a negra assumida to reject the polite discourses and miscegenated identities associated with intermediate racial terms ( moreno, mulato, pardo etc.) in favor of an unambiguous, unsoftened, and unqualified negro identity. It is to make a psychological leap into what ac tivi sts sometimes call Negritud and to undergo what (Sheriff 2001:27). Other schol ars recommend analyzing state policies and shifts in local identity formations to appreciate the construction of politicized and racialized identities. Wade (1999) suggested that tracking the evolution of nomenclature over time provides useful insights into identity politics particular ly historical contexts. Ta king Colombia as his example, the author states that the perception of blackness, both inside and outside of Afro descendant populations, can be periodized in rough correlation to n ame changes. For instance, use of the term c omunidades negras (black commu Law 70 of 1993 initiated a restructuring of blackness in Colombian society. On the


54 ground, this meant that groups previously considered black peasants were then considered a distinct ethnic bloc. Also referring to the Colombian refo rm pro cess, Restrepo (2002) emphasized the role of the state, missionaries, and non governmental advisors in the articulation of black political identities. Moreover, both authors suggest ed that these parties were instrumental in the adoption of the Afro Colombian identifier among certain Afro descendant communities in the last decade. The Evolution of Black Identification in Ecuador Whitten (1986[1974]) and his understudy Stuzman (1979) noted that during their research in the 1970s with populations they classified as negro in San Lorenzo and Ibarra, research participants did not consider themselves as a distinct ethno social categ ory. Stuzman (1979) wrote that his study population was puzzled when he explained his intent to research the black population because they did not think of themselves as a discrete socio cultural group that could be investigated in this way. Moreover, th eir research consultants preferred to be called moreno (brown) instead of negro because this former term was considered more polite ( Whitten 1986:53). While negro is a fairly common identifier in Quito, much of the older generation continues to identify themselves in terms of class or color. De la Torre (2002) found that based on life histories, his black Quiteo informants over the age of 50 had only recently thought of themselves in ethno racial terms. This did not mean that they were not politically active, however. In fact, the older generation of black research participants had been quite active in popular struggles in their neighborhoods during the 1 970s, but this was premised on populist or class based motivations.


55 Afro Ecuadorian Activists in Quito My research consultants self i den tified as either black, Afro, Afro Ecuadorian or mulato/a I only spoke with gentlem an while waiting for coffee outside a bakery, who did not identify as such. This man, Ernesto, was in his early seventies and e arned a modest wage looking after cars that were parked on the street in front of the building where he sat Ernesto identified himself as moreno Based on our conversation, I estimated that his age, place of origin ( Juncal, a town in the northern Sierra ), and his informal, service industry occupation were primary factors that contributed to his decision to be addressed as moreno Furthermore, Ernesto was not affiliated with any black organizations in Quito. While I frequently heard mestizos use the ter ms moreno or morenito this practice was criticized by my research consultants who self identified as either black, Afro Ecuadorian or mulato/a (a person of mestizo and Afro descendant heritage) because they considered the term to demeaning When explainin g the shift towards the Afro Ecuadorian identification, some respondents said that including the Afro was a way to take ownership of their history and to re signify the meaning of blackness Black activists have identified as Afro Ecuadorian since the l ate 1990s and some groups pushed to inc lude this category in the 1998 c onstitution. However, I was told that there was a striking increase in the use of the terms Afro Ecuadorian and Afro descendant among the intellectual activist community after the 2001 Durban conference and the preparatory meetings. For example, one common testimony for participants of t e left Durban as Blacks and came back as Afro demonstrates how these events created a transnational dimension to black identity.


56 Being Black and Becoming Afro Ecuadorian: Intellectual Activist Subject Formations Other activists experienced similar episodes of ethnic awakening after events held at home in Ecuador. In this sectio n I provide narratives of the ethno political conversion experience among activists in Quito. The material I use is based on in depth individual interviews with black activists, state employees, and cultural workers who are affiliated with Afro Ecuadoria n social movement organizations. Their views do not represent the general Afro descendant population in Quito but rather their personal experiences as activists who self identify as Afro Ecuadorian social movement actors. Angelina Elena. Angela Elena is a self identified Afro Ecuadorian woman in her thirties who is originally from Esmeraldas. In addition to her work with the black Ecuadorian Social and Economic Development in the Cit y of Quito. I met with her after a meeting movement. I was particularly interested in her personal path towards ethno political identification. Angelina Elena told me that meeting with a large organization of women from various provinces of Ecuador made a profound impact on her Afro identification. She recalled how she underwent a transformation during the Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Negras ( CONAMUNE) assembly that wa s held in the Chota Valley in 1999. This event was supported by an Austrian NGO, Servicio Austriaco de Cooperacion para Desarrollo (OED), La Corporacion Nacional de Mujeres Negras (CPM) and the multilateral development agency United Nations Development Fu nd for Women (UNIFEM) (Castro and Torres 2006:145).


57 efore I was negra, because of my skin, my nose, my political identity that step ped away from the racialization of phenot ype. Angelina Elena went on to say that this was a process of internal reflection and awakening of the real, empowered her. When I asked her to explain her conversion from negra This comment led me to believe that for Angelina Elena, finding identity took a conscious effort. She w as now Afro because of her social experiences and her ethno political consciousness. It is interesting that Angelina Elena did not mention African h eritage or Afro descent in her narrative. Her political conversion was from negra to Afro, but Afro did not necessarily relate to Africa or African descent. The shift was from an imposed negra identity to an assumed socio political identity. It is im Austrian NGO and the United Nations based development agency UNIFEM. Therefore, while the conference was significant to Angelina Elena because it provided an occasion to connect with other Afro descendant w omen in her country outside age ncies guided the process The agenda intentionally focused on g ender and ethnicity. Rita. Rita is the director of the Afro Ecuadorian dance and music group Chango She is also from Esmeraldas identification in a way s imilar to Angelina Elena in that b oth women were interested in finding themselves. Her comment s also alluded to the conscious recognition of ethnic difference, a process that typifies social dynamics under the multicultural model


58 I asked Rita about her use and meaning of the Afro Ecuadorian identification. She revealed y it for mestizos but like the indigenous, you are looking for your own group. So that is where the word segregation [Afro Ecuadorian] descendants because we come from Africa. That is the concept and so that is why we ca ll ourselves Afro descendants or Afro Esmeraldeas. In addition, Rita noted that how one assumes or identifies herself can correlate with her social movement affiliation or ethno political consciousness. For instance, she differentiated herself from thos These included Rita explained, Afro descendants who did not conceptualize themselves as black or privilege this aspect of their identity. She explained to me, Ecuadorian. Period. Nothing else. The ones that are in this thing, we feel identified with the Afro Rita objectified the Afro Ecuadorian social movement identity. She consciously sought out her ethn ic The reason I interpreted two other primary ethno racial groups in Ecuador: mestizos and indgenas The search politics, pre mised on the recognition of di fference Since the Ecuadorian government has officially recognized ethnic differences in the nation, citizens are confronted by question s regarding where one fits within this structure. Furthermore, the illusion is that eth nicity is something to be found, as though it existed unchanged for time immemorial. In this way, ethnicity and in turn, ethnic differences form as common sense.


59 Claudia. Claudia is the director of an Afro Ecuadorian cultural center NGO, Hijos de Ebano, and an administrator of a socio cultural development foundation named Tambor While Hijos de Ebano was funded by the Inter American Development Bank, Tambor received small support from the government and to a lesser degree, the Centro Cultural Afr oecuatoriano Claudia was born in Quito but her family is from the northern Sierra. She was a very bright, educated woman who has dedicated most of her life to improving the life situations of Afro descendants in Quito, particularly children. Claudia emphasized the cultural aspects of her Afro Ecuadorian identity. She my traditions and because of the way that I was educated. For the way I was raised That is wh at marks your identity. Not the color of your skin. So the way I assume myself is the way I will die: Afro Later in our conversation she detailed the relationship between Afro Ecuadorians and Africa. In doing so, she alluded to the justifi cation for the Afro Ecuadorian social and that is what we are assuming and recognizing. So we think we have a bit of each continent. We are Afro descendants and Ecuadorians because we were born in this l and. We are Ecuadorian citizens, recognized in the c While Claudia assumed a political identity, she emphasize d that ethnic criteria, culture and education, mark her Afro identity, not biology Like Brazilian negra activists 007) study, Claudia assumes a political identity but it is based on her culture and traditions. She also outlines the geo historical elements that compose her Afro descendant identity and places herself as a rights bearing citize n recognized in the


60 Ecuado rian constitution. T his is a conscious act of removing herself from the imposed biology of racialization that she has experienced as a dark skinned woman in Quito. Jos. At the time this research was conducted, Jos Chal was the director of CODAE ( C orporacin Desarrollo Afroecuatoriano ) the main Afro Ecuadorian government agency He was born in El Chota came to Quito to attend university, Jos frequently referred to the re signification of African heritage in our interview and in the discourses he employed during workshops, political campaigns and the like. In his opinion, adopting an Afro Ecuadorian identity was an act of cultural reinvention or political agency. He explained to me that this shift in identi fication was a way of demonstrating that Afro descendant are subjects of knowledge, subjects of history, and rights bearing citizens. He chose the Afro Jos was adamant that to be political ly and ethnically conscious meant rejecting the word negro. He explained that to abandon the term was necessary because it was linked to racialized colonial subordination and dehumanization linking back to the sixteenth century. Later in our conversatio n, Mr. Chal used the concepts of family and African heritage to form his main discourse on the African Diaspora family during the campaign leading up to the 2010 national census. He hoped descendants of Ecuador would encourage black Ecuadorians to identify according to African heritage on the census. The results of the census in turn, would have great signifi cance for social and public policy i n the Afro Ecuadorian community.


61 The Grassroo ts Now I turn to interviews with individuals who represent the grassroots sector. In gender than the accounts of intellectual activists and cultural workers above. T he majority of these research consultants are female domestic workers. Many of these the women moved to the city at early ages to find work. When they arrived, they w ere confronted with a severely restricted job market and few opportunities for economic, social or political advancement. Several women gave similar testimonies of accepting this way of life because it was how people lived around them. This made it easie r to maintain the status quo because it was simply a fact of life. This changed when the women began to participate in black organizations. Perlas de Africa In this section I include interview material with women from Perlas de Africa a grassroots or ganizat ion composed of 13 females and one male from the northern Sierra. As with the intellectual activists and cultural workers interpretations above, I asked the women how they interpreted the Afro Ecuadorian identity. The results of these interviews a re detailed below. Marta. I asked Marta what it meant to be an Afro Ecuadorian woman. Her response below defines her sense of identity Let me maintain my color. Second, our skin is n ot the same as, for instance, yours. Because they always say that your skin is a little more delicate than ours. So sometimes we have to work like blacks. But I still feel proud of what I am. Marta associates and race, which interpolate class and gender This is a phenotypic or biological association that departs from the


62 political identifications of the intellectual activists. Furthermore, Marta link s her skin color w ith hard work and manual labor. The soci al connotations that mark her skin color are different than those that mark mine. She is aware of my whiteness and how my fair skin color is associated with social narratives of privilege or delicacy. Tatiana. I also out her experience living in Perlas de Africa and how she interpreted the Afro Ecuadorian identity. Like Marta, Tatiana worked as a domestic employee. She said that worked every day from six daily bus ride to work lasted 40 minutes but it could be longer, depending on traffic. Like Marta, Tatiana immediately brought up biology. She remarked: My blood, my people, my being, my life, my surroundings, my environment. [a nd the identity of Afro E Ecuadorian woman is difficult, but what I feel, I feel cohabited. But feel like the role of women, as women, we have to fight, to get up i n the morning, to help your husband to have everything ready for them, and then go to work and follow the same routine. To come back from work and to keep doing the same in your own home. testimony on A fro Ecuadorian, specifically female Afro Ecuadorian identities. Her comment that she felt a little crunched down suggest s that these components of her identity are visceral. She embodies this identity. Tatiana lives class and race in her everyday act ivities. As a domestic worker, she finds herself completing the same tasks at home and at work, in private or in professional environments. Perhaps this continual cycle of attending to the demands of others is a primary contributor to her perception of b eing pulled down.


63 It was also clear she experienced solidarity or connection with other women based on gender, class and neighborhood. She mentioned that life is hard b ut there are not major differences between the women in Perlas de Africa and other women in the surrounding area. For instance, women in that sector of Quito also worked as domestic employees and most shared the similar routines including long work hours and large domestic responsibilities. Tatiana went out of her way to stress this po int to me and informed me that all of the women from the general neighborhood participated in neighborhood projects and meetings, similar to mingas (collective work projects). Daniel Comboni. During my field research, I participated in several events ho sted by the Comboni Church. I attended workshops, read the literature and socialized with Comboni priests and members of the constituent community I also took part in education summer program organized by the Combonis During this t ime, I tried to help out in any way possible. Along with six or so of the camp mentors, I prepare d snacks for the children accompan ied the fathers on the car ride s to pick up food donations from local bakeries and I attended administrative meetings on t wo occasions I found this to be a very welcoming environment. Members were enthusiastic about speak ing with me and overall, they were very positive about their experience with Daniel Comboni. I review ed some of the key texts and underlying philosophie s of the Comboni missionaries and the Pastoral Afro While it is important to analyze the materials produced by these institution s because they are circulated within Afro Ecuadorian social movement organizations in Quito, it cannot be assumed that the ide as they convey are understood in the same way or that participants agree d with these teachings. For this


64 reason, I also provide formal inte rview data with a Comboni member to dem onstrate how that individual interpreted the concepts described in the texts Texts. The Combonis and the Pastoral Afro publish several small educational pamphlets and booklets throughout the year. The general formats of the texts begin with a brief introduction on the history of the Afro Ecuadorian people, followed by infor mation on the contemporary living conditions of this population. The handbooks also describe the activities of the Pastoral Afro to help the Afro Ecuadorian community et hno education curriculum through the black church. These works generally conclude with a word on the future objectives of the Pastoral and the ideological trajectories, which are often placed in the framework of a greater Afro Diasporic community. There are several instances of Africanist language and references to Afro descent in the li terature. One booklet published in 2008 often referred to African phrases were also included in the literature. O n e book began with the Bantu phrases for example, Umoja ni Nguvu force) mtu ni watu the human being is human beings ) (Pastoral Afro de Quito 2009:3). These references can be interpreted as evidence for the construction of an Afro community. The texts also presented information about the religions and cultural practices in Africa. Pan Afri canism was a central theme i n one of the books that I reviewed titled Talleres de Identidad ( Identity Workshops ) This topic is discussed in the section on instruments of political, economic and religious liberation of Africa. The definition of Pan Africanism given or socio cultural and political movement that


65 promotes African brotherhood, the defense of the rights of African people and the unity of Africa The development of the Pan African movement is attributed to three primary factors: (1) the exploitation and enslavement of African peoples in the Americas, (2) the intellectual and political interaction between the US and Antillean born intellectuals in the United States, and (3) the motivational ideological and cultural political work of black intellectuals li ke W.E.B. DuBois and Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah (IFA 2008:40 45). Black spirituality Africa was also invoked in discourses on black spirituality. T he Combonis enforce the idea that blacks in Ecuador are somehow estranged from their true land, which is Africa. Th us, they are foreigners in their own country. For instance, a pamphlet titled Espiritualida d Negra (Black Spirituality) states that blacks in the diaspora are at a disadvantage because they live in exile. This life in exile makes it harder yet necessary to practice black spirituality. The book states that Afro vivimos la fe en una tierra extraa nuestra tierra ancestral [our ancestral land] For the Combonis, this objective must be met symbolically through spiritual commitment and devotion to Jesus Christ. Now that I have presented some of the underlying Comboni philosophies, I will include interview data with a Comb oni member to provide a more nuanced and personalized understanding of these teachings. Jonathan. Jonathan is a 28 year old male from the city o f Esmeraldas. At the time this research was conducted, he had lived in Quito for slightly less than a year. I had the opportunity to get to know Jonathan when he visited the Afro Ecuadorian cultural center Hijos de Ebano He sometimes taught dance lessons at the center but


66 he often came to just socialize. I asked Jonathan how he u nderstood Africa during our sit down interview that took place in the upstairs library at Hijos de Ebano. He responded: Our true reality is Africa. It is love. It is black love. It is the land that we do not know but we know that one day all of the blacks are going to unify in In Africa traditions are still preserved from 500 years ago before the blacks arrived here. Here, we black people have already changed. We did n ot preserve all the t raditions. In cultural practices in contemporary Africa have remained the same since before the slave trade. Moreover, he makes it clear that Africa is an importan t part of hi s identity. Jonathan sees important differences betwe en Afro descendant peoples in the Americas and those in Africa. These differences are explained by more or less cultural and racial mixture. This is why Afro cultures in the Americas vary according to geo political and socio historical context. Jonathan reasoned since A frican traditions were lost due to admixture in the Americas, it is necessary to rescue them in Afro cultural groups. This issue arose when Jonathan explained to me that his ethno movement identity was different from other African descendants in Ecuador who were not involved with the Afro Ecuadorian socio cultural movement. His comments are Chango whom I mentioned in a previous example. Jonathan differentiated the black vs. Afro identity in the following words: It is not the same to be black and to know you are an Afro descendant. Afros are the people that really feel in their heart and soul that they are black and that they are the descendants of an African person, s omeone who comes from Africa. The other blacks do not want to know about their but they do Afro People like me who say I am Afro descendant are the ones that have followed the traditions. The people


67 that have been in an Afro group, we feel we represent Africa. And here I am African. My ancestors are African so I am Afro descend ant. But it is just people that belong to a group, and we are trying to teach people the African traditions. acknowledge their African heritage or their blackness as an ethno political category. For him, Afro descendants must study their heritage to awaken their inner ethnicity. By complements the Comboni philosophy on black spirituality. Individuals mus t awaken their spirituality and blackness through a certain form of ethno cultural restoration yet, only the people in Afro cultural groups recognize their African lineage. Furthermore, his reason, Jonathan thinks that ethno cultural maintenance is necessary. I asked Jonathan if his friends from Esmeraldas shared his views. He told me that for the most part, they did not. When I asked why, he offered a few scenarios. Jonathan sugges t It might be becaus e of racism, because people do no mixed feeling of being black but not Afro conceptualize their blackness in mainly racial terms and do not privilege African heritage. Panela. Panela is a grassroots organization of low income black women. These women are distanced from the intellectual activist discourses on ethnicity and I was not aware of any members affiliated with the Pastoral Afro That is one way that Panela is


68 different from Perlas de Africa Members of Perlas de Africa participate d in the Pastoral Afro and FOGNEP ( Federacin de Grupos y Organizaciones Negros de Pichincha ). In addition, Panela was a relatively new organization. I was created in 2006, four ye ars prior to my field research. Perlas de Africa on the other hand, formed in the mid 1990s, with assistance from Comboni priests. Housing was the primary motivation for Panela because almost none of the women owned their own homes. A high percen tage of these women were low income single mothers. They constituted a severely marginalized sector of society in Quito, and received little support from sources outside of the group. The organization ha d three principal aims as explained by Hipatia, th e group administrator. f irst, to have a dignified house Hipatia informed me that racism had impinged their ability to acqu ire these relatively modest desires. Apart from the group administrators, m any of the members of Panela were quite forward about their economic inte rest with the group Based on my observations and conversations with the women, it seemed that poverty r ather than ethnicity brought the members together. In fact, one woman pointed out that the women seldom hung out together outside of the meetings, and even the meetings were difficult to attend because of additional responsibilities or lack of interest. In addition, while c ertain individuals spoke about social inequality in Ecuador social disparities were almost always defined in terms of class; inequality was seldom described by racial or ethnic language I n general, I noted an ambiguity in their narr atives on race and class.


69 I was told the need was to alleviate poverty. This included immediate concerns like housing, better education for their children, and decent clothing. An Outing with Panela During one outing with Panela I observed the i nterplay of culture and politics in Afro Ecuadorian identity S lightly fewer than 180 group members assembled on a Sunday afternoon to walk together to the site o f their newly built, government funded houses in northern Quito. This event proved to be a g ood opportunity to speak with the women. Usually their time was limited because of work and domestic responsibilities. I warmed up to the crowd and briefly explained the general topic of my research to a few lis teners. Compared to my other research con sultants who were pleased to be interviewed, m ost of these women were more hesitant to speak to me about the topic of identity or blackness I was able to formally interview a bubbly young 30 year old woman named Brenda. Brenda. Although Brenda was fai rly boisterous with a healthy sense of humor, she seemed nervous when I started to ask her questions. For instance, when I asked Bren da how she self identified she said negra Immediately, Hipatia, the director of Panela, s Afro Ecuatoriana this term, but she did not like how it was imposed. She and I continued our conversation in a more private setting because I quickly hopped on a bus that she was taking back to her neighborhood. She explained tierra in San comida (food) such as encocado de pescado, ceviche de camarn fish and shrimp dishes typical to the coast After our interview, I continued to think about the incident with Hipatia.


70 Etsy. A few days later, I interviewed Etsy, a 42 year old female from Carchi, a province in northern Ecuador. She was one of the coordinators of Panela Etsy 4 explained to me that in her neighborhood the term Afro Ecuadorian is hardly ever used. However, the organ ization Panela at times consciously employs this signifier during meetings, events and dialogue with other social movement or state actors. She expressed to me that the members were skeptic al of this language. In fact, Etsy confided that members of Panel a would ask the administrators what the term Afro Ecuadorian meant but they could not give a detailed response because the term itself was unclear. Perhaps this is why Brenda hesitated over her response. It is possible that Brenda did not realize that how she identified during interviews with anthropologists and in situations where nomenclature is significant (i.e. in this state funded housing development project), could influence the way Panela was categorized. Perhaps Hipatia encouraged the women to self identify as Afro Ecuadorian because she wanted for the group to appear politically astute and ethnically conscious. Identity and cultural politics were a focus that Sunday in another way. Earlier I explained how I accompanied Panela to the site of several houses built for some of the group members. The development project was financed by CODAE, the Consejo Provencial de Pichincha the City of Quito, and a special bicentennial government agency. The project proposal was directed at low income Afro Ecuadorian women in Panela This ethno cultural specification brought up the issue of who was Afro Ecuadorian in the group. Apparently there were a few women in Panela that did not 4 The issue of place and generational differences in terms of naming and ethnic identification cam e up during our interview. When I asked Etsy if her parents identified as Afro they are black but they do not care about Afro Ecua


71 identify in this way. Therefore, it was somewhat awkward when Hipatia, the group leader, said that only Afro Ecuadorian women were included in the housing project. This is one way that multicultural differences, state policies and development are problematic. While I did not discuss this issue with the women, it is likely t who is Afro would be a difficult task. Cultural Revival As Trouillot (1995) noted the past is a dynamic resource for identity. Efforts made by Afro Ecuadorian a ctivists important way to re historicize black identity and to root this identity to a national context. Based on my observations and conversations with locals, the majority of blacks in Quito are not interested in researching the history of African descent. This is not an important part of their identity. As Diego said in Chapter 2, blacks in Ecuador are just that Black Ecuadorian. Their history began in Ecuador. Many black Ecuadorians, particular ly from the popular class, do not want to recall explained to me his opinion on the m atter. He said that the Afro Ecuadorian identity points to the past, not the future. Furthermore, it gave him negative images of poverty and backwardness that he associated with Africa. Thus, Carlos opted to identify as negro because Afro and its link t o Africa brought him sadness. When I asked him to


72 was linked to a negative s tigma and he wished to disassociate himself from this connection. Other activists are interested in cultural and historical revival restoration projects. One project was the study of genealogy and surnames. Afro Ecuadorian social movement activists have attempted to discover from what part of Africa they originate. For example, a UNIFEM, the Ecuadorian government, and an Austrian NGO, female activists engaged in ethno education and cultural historical revival by studying their family names. People research ed the origin of their surnames such as Congo, Chal, and Angulo. One female grassroots activists in her fortie s was nearly brought to tears when she explained to me how her s lave ancestors were stripped of their names and given Spanish last names. She said that this was the case for her family because her surname is a common Spanish name. Thus, identifications are not only political because of their use in state and internat ional legislation or when used as a strategic act of political representation and as a sign of racial solidarity. They are also very personal and laden with racial and historical significance that some activists relive during their path to ethno racial aw akening or subject formation. Racial and Spatial Dimensions of Afro Ecuadorian Identity In this section I describe the place of Afro Ecuadorian identity and how region is tied to blackness. As I explained in Chapter 1 blacks in Quito are seen as d e in the city. I sketch what Rahier (1998) calls the spatial/racial construction of blackness in Ecuador which is linked to historic ideas of race, biology and place. After describing this context, I insert Afro Ecuad orian


73 areas of Ecuador. I show how these constructions are tied to the idea of blanqueamiento (social and physical whitening) These notions are tested when blacks from they are faced with the threat of white ning. This issue is particularly important for social movement leaders be cause of their aim to valorize blackness. In Quito Ethno rac ial identity largely overlaps regional identity. In fact, these modes of identity are so connected that they harden into the logic that true blackness or Afro of Esmeraldas and the nor thern S ierra. This was clear when research consultants discussed culture and Afro traditions. The following example demonstrate s this point. One time I asked an Afro Chotea woman who lived in Quito for about thirty years, if she taught her daughter about the Afro Ecuadorians traditions. She said that she did not because her daughter always travelled with The she learned them when the y travelled to her land, which was twice a year for Easter and Semana Santa (Holy Week). Therefore, it can be inferred that the traditions were in her land not Quito despite the fact she had lived in the city for several decades This woman had lived in Quito for several decades yet her land was still outside of Quito. Afro Ecuadorians in Quito are in a particularly hard predicament because due to the spatial construction of race in Ecuador, blackness i s not associated with urban Quito traditional areas associated with blackness: the northern sierra and Esmeraldas.


74 Migration to the city and blanqueamiento are causes for concern for certain activists communities somehow parallels weakening ethno racial identification. Furthermore, there are more possibilities for cultural and biologic al whitening in the city. I will refer back to Jonathan and Rita who touched on these issues during our separate interviews. Jonathan, the 28 year old male from Esmeraldas, explained to me about the racial/spatial dynamic in Quito and the threat of soc ialization on black culture. Here in Quito for instance there are not many black people. There are more white people. And blacks in Quito started to socialize with white and mestizo people. From being socialized with them since they were children, the y were raised with the white or mestizo way to be and they forgot their black ways. Even more so if they are mulatos Rita on the other hand, was one activist who argued that it was possible to keep and self assurance. She said that Afro Ecuadorians often migrate internally to the cities as well as outside of the country. People migrated from their land in search of better social services but with effort, Afros can stay true to their land and their traditions. Like Jonathan, Rita clearly separates herself from whites and mestizos This w as apparent when she explained the advice her mother gave her when she was raised. This instruction was tested when Rita moved to Quito, as she explained: M y m om was very proud of being black and she would not ask for any knowledge from white and mestizo women. And that is what she would try to always teach us. We had to be proud of being b lack and of all your traditions [We migrate] to have a better educati on, good health care, better housing, and we start leaving our homeland. But somehow our land stays in our heart and in our blood. We know that we are from there. We cannot just abandon the place where we come from. Because it is your own community that g ives you that ancient wisdom so we can share it with the different places where you end up living and developing. If you move to


75 another country, never forget your language and your way of dressing and your food, the way you eat. Those are the most import ant things. If you stop going around with Afro people and you start hanging out with mestizos or whites and you start learning their traditions, you stop feeling proud of to be black. But when you have your identity very clear, you can hang out with whoev er you want and their traditions do not stick to you. Because wherever I go, I always talk about my food: encocado de pescado, my encocado de cangrejo, encocado de camarn Because that makes me feel proud and I feel identified with what I do and with wh at I eat. Rita made reference to her food, language and land. Protecting and strengthening these bits of her culture were what allowed her to remain herself in any situation. If blacks do not make a conscious effort to keep their cultural traditions wh en they come into contact with whites and mestizos they may lose their pride in their blackness. The issue of pride and self esteem is present in Afro Ecuadorian efforts to regain confidence and value in a society where blackness is viewed negatively. I will discuss this topic in the section that follows. Female Body Politics F emale activists spearheaded an initiative to valorize Afro phenotypes. I had the opportunity to observe some of these activities in cultural organizations and every barber shop s In this section I describe some of these efforts. I begin with a brief background on gendered racialization and the embodiment of race. In what follows, I describe Ecuadorian notions of beauty, and address the unique position of women within this or der. In Ecuador, black women have an ambivalent position in dominant constructions of power, race and sexuality. The bodies of black women are hypersexualized in socio historical narratives in Ecuador, stemming from sexual partnerships in colonial Ecua dor and the image of the voluptuous and curvy black female. It is also said that black women have abnormal sexual prowess. Other stereotypes scrutinize black hair into two


76 categories: good or bad. Good hair is straight and long while bad hair is co a rse and unruly. These stereotypes affect the everyday lives of black women in Quito For example, the majority of my research consultants told me about how employment adds Ecuadorians from entering these positi ons. ed way that Afro descendant phenotypes are excluded from certain spaces of Ecuadorian society. This structure was apparent in a conversation I had with Tatiana about Ecuadorian woman of the popular class, said that the way she styles her hair depends on her environment. Tatiana believed that she should modify her hair according to where or whom she will be around. For example, she told me that she preferred to wear a hat to work if her hair was not braided or pulled because otherwise it would not be appropriate. This statement reveals a few interesting points. First, Tatiana believes that blackness and natural black hair is assoc iated with being unkempt and/or poor. Second, her comments signify that in her opinion, there is a proper place for blackness that exists outside of the supposedly non black social arena of the workplace. However, Tatiana did not seem to acknowledge this as a problem in racial or gendered terms but rather as a social fact. Her demeanor and language was straight forward, lending me to believe that this info rmation was common not unique. While she was the only person who adher ed to this belief in an interview, the more politically identified Afro Ecuadorian women were quick to denounce anti black social norms.


77 Another research consultant recalled an overt act of racial violence that took place Marta, a member of Perlas de Africa gave me an example of gendered racial discrimination in the public school system. This event occurred in 2009. She told me what the teacher said: A teacher in the school of my daughter said, in front of forty students, she sai groomed and clean, especially the blacks because I notice that the ones And my daughter is lighter than me but she has coarse hair. So, she came home a nd told me what the teacher said. Well I said my god and I went right to the school and I just complained. I told them it was n o t right that the teacher just dropped that racist seed in front of all the students and I said that every person in the w orld has a smell. Not only black people. It is a natural thing. In response to such forms of anti black racism, Afro Ecuadorian activists have made efforts to uplift the self esteem of the black community through re signifying the meaning of beauty an d instilling values that valorize blackness. For example the director of Hijos de Ebano Claudia, proposed to have a beauty salon or salon de belleza dedicated to black aesthetics in the cultural center. The idea was that the center could employ Afro Ecu adorian stylists and at the same time provide beauty services to their clientele. The salon had services such as braiding and hair coloring and also offered hair extensions. However, the project was not successful, as a former stylist told me. She expl ained that there were not enough clients One reason why there were not many patrons is because the center was located in the middle of the tourist district. This location is at least a forty five minute bus ride from most of the predominately black neig hborhoods in the north. However, there was another project organized by female black activists. The name of this project was Caras de Belleza I did not attend the event but I saw many pictures of the activities and spoke with some of the attendees. Rita, the director of


78 Chango to whom I referred in previous examples, was part of this project and she described her interpretation of the significance of the event. She recounted: Everything represented something in the way we were dressed and the way o f making our braids. We are representing our inner and external beauty because it makes us feel good and it represents our identity when we are wearing our braids and our African outfits. There are a lot of women from different communities that are very p roud of being Afro Esmeraldea or Afro Ecuadorian. For instance, what I am wearing is a loose braid that represents a whole cultural baggage from a community. If you have knitted braids, it represents the roads that you walked to arrive to America. If you wear the leaf you are representing the natural forest that our community comes from. If you wear a crab you represent food. So yes, you represent everything with your hair. The cultural baggage that every community has is different. You send a very important message depending on what you wear and what you do with your hair. As Rita discusses, hair is an important element of the embodiment of blackness. At least for her, h air style and the re valorization of Afro descendant aesthetics is a way to ch allenge dominant conceptions of beauty in Ecuador which favor mestizo looks Thus, the body was a site where activists negotiated black identities. Discussion The act of naming is an important part of forming social categories. To consciously ascribe oneself with an ethno racial identification can be an overt performance of cultural identity politics and personal re definition. The state plays a key role in the formation of identities and social categories. The multicultural state is organized around multicultural citizenship and the formation of ethno cultural identities. Today, many black activists in Quito use socio political identifications that privilege their African heritage. The state promoted this practice in the 1998 and 2008 Constitutions legislation has employed the ethnically essentialist language of collective identity and


79 uld be surmised that state language used in Afro Ecuadorian policy is an incentive for some to identify as Afro Ecuadorian because in social programs, this is how the state identifies the population. This practice is also tied to class and affiliation wit h black social movement organizations. Race, ethnicity, and culture are pronounced in different social settings and these social realities are lived through multiple identities. This is clear within my research population. Speaking to an NGO affiliate, such as Claudia from Hijos de Ebano ethnicity is accentuated. These subjectivities are further varied between all female grassroots groups like Perlas de Africa and Panela, for whom the black movement and their understandings of black identity are exper ienced through a gendered, racialized and classed lens. For example, Panela received assistance because of their lack of housing and the project money they received was specifically earmarked for black women. As demonstrated in this chapter, activist un derstandings of black identity differ. Those with close ties to the government or NGOs, specifically intellectual activists typically use ethno political terminologies in their narrations of black identity. In contrast, women from the grassroots organiza tions employ racialized concepts to define blackness. Whereas intellectual activists turn away from color or phenotype as they move towards a geo political lexicon, my research suggests that female activists of the lower class grassroots organizations d o not feel a shift away from these elements of their identity This is not to say that these women are not empowered by their activism.


80 In fact, many female research consultants said that they were more inclined to embrace a black identity because of the ir involvement with the black social movement. While legislation and institutional affiliation play a role in how one identifies, activists also exert some control of their history by drawing upon their own subjectivities. For Angelina Elena, Claudia, Ri ta and Jos Chal, the Afro Ecuadorian identification is a reinterpretation of history whereby blackness is re signified as a socio political identity which in some ways transcends the contemporary and the personal context.


81 CHAPTER 4 THE POLITICS OF RACE AND IDENTITY WI THIN AND AROUND INTERCULTURALISM Strategies black activists use to engage with certain concepts and policies promoted in Ecuadorian multiculturalism are discussed in this chapter. I review ed the wider panorama of multiculturalism a nd interculturalism, specifically how these policies raise issues around r ace politics, and culture in theory and practice. My objective was to show how activists navigate between multicultural hegemony and racialization and the ambiguities in between. Chapter Overview The first part of this chapter focuses on interculturalism. I review ed the relevant scholarly literature on the key concepts and frameworks attached to this term including alism and intercultural ethno education. After analyzing these testimonies, I consider how neoliberalism and multiculturalism encourage the commodification of race and culture In what follows, I rculturalism and intercultural ethno education. After analyzing these testimonies I consider how neoliberalism and multiculturalism encourage the commodification of race and culture, leading to the neutralization or routinization of the political demands of black activists and their activities. Having addressed the personal and theoretical perspectives on interculturalism, I then demonstrate how th is ideology works in practice by detailing a series of programs devoted to intercultural education. These p rograms took place at Hijos de Ebano a non profit Afr o Ecuadorian cultural center. F unding for the event was provided by the Ministries of Culture and Education, the City of Quito, and a special bicentennial


82 government agency. I refer to the culturally friendly aspects of this program and how staff members at Hijos de Ebano atte mpted to diversify the straight forward multicultural agenda which was outlined by the organizational agencies. After describing this program I question whether this plan reflect s the indigenous and Afro Ecuadorian In the second part of the chapter, I turn to another event that was held at Hijos de Ebano 2008) work, I contend that this event was a transruptive ethnographic event that created a dialogue on race and blackness in Quito. I argue that this occasion was a true intercultural event because it brought Ecuadorians of all racial and cultural backgro unds to the center based on a collective interest in the politicization of blackness. This event also prompt ed a discussion about race and politics as they are involved in the co optation of social movement leaders. I include pieces of this discussion to instantiate demonstrate how a activists positioned themselves in a transnational black political community employ activist testimonie s that suggest to weaken black rights activism. Background Today, Afro Ecuadorians are included in official representations of Ecuadorian nationalism and in state policies As discussed in Chapter 2, n ow that the 1998 and 2008 c onstitutions recognize Afro Ecuadorians package of rights, several programs have been established to grant recognition and bolster the social, cultural and political inclusion of Afro descendants in Ecuador. This effort has been played out primarily through cultural representations like dance and


83 music festivals and intercultural ethno education programs. While these programs call attention to blackness, they simultaneously reinforce stereotypes that blacks ar e only good for dancing and music Multicultura lism and Interculturalism During my fieldwork I attended several Afro Ecuadorian cultural events that were funded at least partially by the state. These programs were the product of a shifting paradigm in Ecuador towards interculturalism. Intercultural ism is a concept that was created by the indigenous movement during the 1990s in response to the divisive effects of neol iberal policies (Walsh and Garc a 2002). In its most basic form interculturalism refers to cross cultural learnin g. The creators of the concept, indigenous leaders, intended for it to become a way of life or a re invisioning of Ecuadorian society where instead of simply co existing, citizens interact with one another based on the principles of respect and appreciation. In recent year s, the Ecuadorian state has appropriated this concept and adopted it into national legislation and public policy initiatives. The state contends that this is a rupture from previous years of divisive strands of multiculturalism that did not generate inter cultural understanding. Along with Almeida (2005) and Rahier (2008) I question ed if state sp onsored interculturalism departed from the previ ous multicultural agendas, which attempted to gloss over deep histories of racialization through the provision of ethno cultural recognition. In reference to Cohen and Bains (1988:12 13), Rahier (2008:148) suggests that dominant and subordinate can somehow swap places and learn how the other half lives, whilst leaving the structures of power intact. As if


84 power relations could be magically suspended through the direct exchange of experience, and ideology dissolve into th e thin air of face to Hale (2006:269) insists that neoliberalism's cultural project "contributes both to the rising prominence of indigenous and Afro descendant activists and at once curbs their tran sformative aspiratio to deflate opposition to the state by including certain indigenous and Afro descendant peoples into the state, while ensuring that their agendas are de politicized. I t hink that this conceptual framework applies to particularly intercultural programs, such as the one I describe d in this chapter In effect, the plan is to celebrate cultural difference, to quiet the dissenti ng voices by disbursing cultural rights and intercultural program funding, but these programs do not guarantee respect for other cultures, nor center the realities of race in Quito. Activist Perspectives on Interculturalism Now I shift gears to call atte ntion to the intellectual activist voices regarding this important issue. Some black activists follow these programs with a critical eye. While most of my research consultants told me that intercultural ethno education programs were an improvement over t he complete absence of black experiences in the school system, they are aware of the empty promise for change. Jos Chal spoke about We always speak about interculturalism as an academic concept but it is very strange because the people who created the concept are indigenous and Afro Ecuadorian. They created the concept from their quotidian way of living. How can some random experts speak about something that we created ourselves? I mean how do I r emove this ventriloquist that has been speaking for me and telling me that this is good for me? So I always say


85 that if interculturality is a dialogue between two cultures, I am not going to make a dialogue in an asymmetric circumstance. If the intercul turality, as they say in the academy, is about tolerance, I do not want to be tolerated, I want to be respected. So, the citizens executing their rights and the creation of public policies are two faces of the same coin. You cannot have a dialogue with a nother person in an asymmetric circumstance in which the other ones have all the access to health, education, housing, employment, while my people are poor. That is not a dialogue. I will feel in a dialogue when all those historic gaps are resolved. Tha t is the respect I demand. If we start saying that we need resources for public policy, money for rep arations and affirmative action then ok we can sit down. And that is when we start talking about equal levels of dialogue. Those are effective levels of citizenship and interculturality. If it is not like that, then it will just be one big speech; just a big event and I will not participate in that. Mr. Chal addressed the politics of knowledge and inequality imbedded in Ecuadorian interculturalism There are fundamental issues that need to be addressed before Ecuadorians can truly appreciate cultural differences and the experiences of those defined by the state as cultural minorities. I also spoke to Jonathan, the Afro Esmeraldeo male from C hapter 3 about how he understands interculturalism and the need for these programs. Jonathan stressed the indigenous, Afro Ecuadorians never learn about their culture or their history in formal school systems. He explained to me that, The indigenous are different because they are Indians in their country. T hey have education, they go to school and in school they are taught about the Chapala. They talk about traditions. They learn to speak Quechua. It is not the same with us. We learn math, we learn language, we learn biology but we do not learn African history in our schools. considers himself a full citizen of Ecuador, his words lead one to believe that he feels like a second class citizen at times, particularly in the case of history and education. To


86 remedy this situation, he posits that the state should fund programs that recognize and valorize Afro Ecuadorian history and culture as they do indigenous peoples. His comments justified the proliferation of ethno education and intercultural education programs because unfortunately, nothing was being done to include Afro Ecuadorians in m ainstream curriculum. On the Commodification of Culture and Race Afro Ecuadorian cultural organizations gain recognition from state campaigns to promote black culture. The state finances Afro cultural groups as a way of representing the cultural and raci al equality of the state. Since the urbanization of the black population and the recognition of Afro Ecuadorians as a distinct ethno cultural group, context of globali zed capitalism and neoliberal multiculturalism because culture is objectified ( Wade 1998 bomba and marimba. To add to this dynamic, t he bomba and marimba the principal musical styles that repres ent Chota and Esmeraldas respectively, are ways of representing and talking about blackness, race and culture in a de politicized way. Busdiecker (2006) observed this same de politicization of blackness through the Afro Bolivian performance of saya The re are several Afro Ecuadorian cultural groups in Quito. Many of these organizations or associations put on musical performances throughout the city. The styles of mu sic performed are typically either bomba or marimba with influences of other genres lik e bao reggae, hip hop, salsa, andarele or romantic. Often the musical workers dress themselves in clothing associated with traditional or folk forms of black culture in Esmeraldas or Chota. For example, women wear long, free flowing skirts


87 typical of th ese communities. The skirts are intentionally oversized so that dancers can pinch the fabric between their fingers and make long, swooping motions to the rhythm. Women also perform dances while balancing a bottle on their heads. This practice is also as sociated with Chota and Esmeraldas. Men wear basic, loose fitted woven cotton shirts and pants, which differ from the everyday styles. It is important to note that these cultural forms take on new significance according to where they are performed and fo r whom. The state commissions Afro Esmeraldeo or Afro Choteo music and dance groups to come to Quito to perform for a predominantly mestizo audience during national celebrations. I witnessed this transpire during the bicentennial celebrations that took stage s at times of national identity formation, as a way to display the historically deep and ethnically rich character of a multicultural nation. Their dance and their ethnicity are commodified under the hegemonic neoliberal multicultural system. A related result of the commodification of black culture is that culture has emerged as a way of life (Wade 1999). There are professional musicians and dancers who travel aroun d Ecuador or other countries where they represent Afro Ecuadoria ns on the global stage. These events translate into funds for social movement activities. As a result, da ncing became a principal means to support Afro groups. As one astute woman put it, W Her grassroots organization realized the effectiveness of music and dance performance s to raise money for housing. This woman recalled that when the members were trying to raise money to purchase building materials to constru ct their homes often micro credit projects failed Thus, the women had to rely on public dance performances to fund their project. In t his way, the stereotype of the


88 black performer is reproduced within the black community and to Ecuadorian society as a whole. As Rahier (2008) points out, the problem is not that Ecuadorians value Afro Ecuadorian music and dance. R ather, these cultural displays are one of the only virtues publicly granted to Afro Ecuadorians Furthermore, the state appears to prefer p resentations t hat perpetuate stereotypes and folklore so there is little potential for the audience to perceive Afro Ecuadorian performers beyond his limited view. To complicate this dynamic, there is strong competition among Afro music groups over cultur al authenticity. His rivalry has led to fragmentation between music groups, tied to black social movment organizations. In the following section an example of a state sponsored intercultural program illustrates how these types of programs function in pra ctice. Mes del Nio Hijos de Ebano is one of the only black organizations in Quito that received funding from an international NGO, the Inter American Development Agency. This organization hosted a month long campaign called Mes del Nio The aim of th is event Funding was provided by a special bicentennial committee, and the Ministries of Culture and Education. These agencies also designed the agenda for the staff of Hijos de Ebano which was to bring groups of children from low income public schools to the center to learn about Afro Ecuadorian culture. The staff at Hijos was told to give a brief introduction, teach the children a dance, and then instruct them how to play Afro Ecuadorian musical instr uments. At the


89 Eight separate groups partook in the program and t here were thirty to forty students per school group. In total 255 students participated, of which four appeared to be of Afro descent. This observation was confirmed by the center employees that self identified as Afro Ecuadorian or mulatto I was a participant observer during these events, so I helped the staff members with small tasks like organizing th e visitors into groups, handing out snacks, and answering questions On each occasion, t he c hildren arrived in school buses, accompanied by two to three of their teachers. As soon as the buses parked, the kids barreled down the exit and were then funnel ed through the main entrance of Hijos. As they entered the center, the kids oohed and a a hed over the giant, colorful posters and memorabilia that covered the walls. These items represented over a decade of black activism such as cultural workshops, polit ical demonstrations, and participation in international conferences It seemed that both students and chaperones were entering a world unknown to them. Once seated, Glenda, one of the administrators of Hijos greeted the group and asked general question s to test their knowledge of Afro Ecuadorian history and culture. Glenda first asked the children if they could name a few national heroes and second, if they had ever learned about any Afro Ecuadorian indi viduals in their school books. The children name d all male national heroes: the Indian military leader Rumiahui, the Inca emperor Huscar, and the revolutionary independence leader Simon Bolvar. They were not able to name a single Afro Ecuadorian individual most likely because blacks were either not included or marginalized in the formal school curriculum. For this reason, black activists have advocated for the government to include Afro Ecuadorian subjects in the education system.


90 When Glenda inquired about Afro Ecuadorians in their textbooks, t here was usually an awkward pause from the group. In general, there were three reactions from the school chaperons. On certain occasions I observed teachers steady their focus on the floor so as to avoid any potential disapproving looks from myself and/or the staff. On a couple occasions, the visitors mumbled something about Esmeraldas or Chota or someone shouted out a mock answer O verall however, no one was able to produce a satis factory response. A t certain times, I noted approving smiles on the tea I interpreted this reaction as their way of acknowledging the importance of the silence and the value of that moment for adults and children. After this introductory exercise, groups of children were shown an animated video produced by the Ministry of Education. This video illustrated the ideology of multiculturalism: to accentuate difference and separation while at the same time groups: Indians, mestizos and blacks. This video seemed to flatten each group onto a color pallet. In the film, the male Indian character wore a poncho as his ethno racial marker, and the female black character had an overabundance of tightly curled ri nglets as her ethno racial marker. However, the mestizo figures were not marked in any way, leading one to believe that they represented dominant ideas of racial normalcy. During the second part of the presentation, the program changed slightly. Staff mem bers of Hijos de Ebano were able to exercise some variety from the original agenda assigned by the organizers. For instance, staff member discussed the contributions and political struggles of Afro descendants throughout the regi on. For


91 example, Agustn, a 30 year old man from Esmeraldas spoke about Alonso de Illescas, the sixteenth century Cimarrn leader of the Zambo Republic, an independent maroon colony in the coastal region of Esmeraldas. While Illescas common knowledge to th e typical Ecuadorian citizen, he has been adopted as the national hero of the Afro Ecuadorian people. Other times, the speaker discuss ed the civil rights struggle in the United States or ma d e reference to an act of anti black discrimination that had recen tly taken place. For instance, the center director Claudia spoke about an incident where a black soccer player was kicked out of a restaurant in Guayaquil because the owner thought he was a drug dealer. When asked why, the owner of the restaurant said th at the man was talking on his phone excessively. After these discussions, the children were taught an Afro Peruvian song, as a way Diaspora room where there was dis play of flags representing the countries of the Afro Latin American and Afro Caribbean Diaspora. A collection of African dashikis ad batik paintings hung next to these items. Finally, they learned how to play the bomba and the marimba two musical instrum ents associated with black culture in the Chota Mira Valley and Esmeraldas, respectively. Although the children were again getting a version of blackness that was at times reduced to cultural artifacts, an Afro Ecuadorian program volunteer told me that s he saw this event as an opportunity to fill the void of Afro education system. Furthermore, teaching instruments associated with two culturally r epresentation of blackness in Ecuador and the Diaspora.


92 Obama: A Transruptive Ethnographic Moment Afro Ecuadorian reactions to the election of President Obama are discussed in this identity in Quito. Specifically, this event created a forum for activists to invoke race in their dialogue. Ecuadorian activists have stressed the importance of respect and interest in order for Ecuadorian interculturalism to be effective. The Obama pan el marked one such event where Ecuadorian co nationals were drawn into a predominately black connected their experience of blackness, as Afro descendants, with this event. I employ transruption, based on his readings of Hesse (2000) multiculturalism to interpret these events T his framework has purchase to interpret the events that to because they momentarily shook the Ecuadorian racial order Afro Ecuadorians spread awareness of Obama throughout his presidential campaign during workshops and through media reports. After the US presid victory, there was an upsurge of celebration. This ethnographic moment created a space for discussion about race and transnational racial identifications. At least in the case of one Obama panel that was held at Hijos de Ebano after the election, t his was a true intercultural event between Ecuadorians but also the greater African Diaspora. This event contrasts with the typical state funded intercultural programs because non blacks were brought to the center out of their own interest in the positive racial connections between their Afro descendant co nationals and the symbolic black leader of the United States.


93 Reactions to the Election of Obama The staff of Hijos de Ebano organized a panel to discuss the relevance and the ion for blacks in Ecuador. This time, the event was financed by the cultural center and was open to the public. I was not present for this event, because it took place before I arrived in Quito, but I conducted interviews with several of the participants I was told there was a significant turnout of roughly forty black, indigenous and mestizo participants. The opinions expressed during interviews reflected the work of several years of black social and political organization in Quito, during which time race cognizance has increased significantly for a particular sector of black activists in Quito. The tones of these comments were varied but it was clear that Obama was a powerful symbol for the people with whom I spoke. There was a general feeling of m otivation and inspiration for Afro descendants and non Afro Obama supporters, particularly in terms of encouraging Afro Ecuadorians to get involved in local organizations and continue their formal education. A prominent Afro Ecuadorian intellectual activi st male in his mid esteem of the Afro population, to tell them [success] is possible with effort and preparing This was surely a sign of encouragement, but this comment is striki ngly similar to the pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality that denies the greater structural issues restrict ing blacks from certain educational areas. A young er, university educated single black father who taught Afro dance lessons at Hijos de Eba no to support his 10 year old daughter was less optimistic about the possibility of such social and economic


94 the US ] a black person that gets educated can get out of poverty. Here, if blacks try, they may still be in the sam perceptions of anti black racism by employers and structural discrimination in Ecuadorian society as well as his interpretations of class. His co mments reflect his position as a black man in the global south, which is economically marginalized by the global capitalist system. presidency in Ecuador. Referring to his own political career, which includ ed a mayoral campaign, one 53 year old Afro Ecuad orian male named Osvaldo said, I felt the effects of racial discrimination but I could not see it clear enough so as to break the pattern. I saw it as an everyday thi ng in which a black person just could not be the president of the nation. Because if he achieved the presidency, he would be killed. Osvaldo was referenc ed the assassination of the former black Ecuadorian presidential candidate Jaime Hurtado that occurred in 1999. Many black activists with whom I spoke suspected this was a racially motivated act of anti black violence. Glenda, the co administrator of Hijos de Ebano explained that the idea behind will motivate people to attend these events. The Obama panel hosted by the center was one such event that attracted a diverse crowd of Ecuadorians considered from the co Her language sug gested that the Obama event was Afro e [Afro Ecuadorians] are in Ecuador and that [ the election of a black presiden t] happened in the United States, it is still our history because he is the first Afro descen dant to be president of that country [emphasis added]


95 I asked her opinion about the success of the Obama panel in drawing such a diverse crowd S h e said, t depends on the way you attract people and make them personal understanding, this was a true intercultural moment because non blacks came to the center out of their individual interests in Obama, which she generally interpreted as an achievement for all Afro descendants. Other research consultants did no t share the sa me opinions. For example, I asked Marta, a 60 year old black woman who had worked as a domestic employee in the same home for the past 23 years, about whether she had been impacted by the e lection of President Obama S he replie d a president we do not know. We have just seen him in the newspapers and on television by this event at work however They talk to people in the United States and I feel they are mad to see a black getting Obama and increased opportunities for blacks in Ecuador, her words allude to a possible rise in anxiety that blacks are overcoming soc io economic inequality which could translate to increased tensions with her employers and in Ecuadorian society in general. Juan Ocles, former president of the FOGNEP ( Federacin de Grupos y Organizaciones Negros de Pichincha ) and current director of t he Afro Ecuadorian social development office in the Municipio de Quito was skeptical about the effects of victory, it could be used as an example of progress that stunts the drive of black


96 activism in Quito. Linking Ocles argued that black representatives are intentionally allowed entrance into social and political spaces as a way to suppress claims from civil society that soci al exclusion and inequality are still major problems. He opined this as follows : I believe the Afro movement these days is going through some sort of undermined his speech and his actions. Here in Ecuador, the same fact that an Afro minister was nominated, or like Roberto Cuero, the currently named governor of the most conservative city of Guayaquil, in Guayas province. We are experiencing this here in Quito with [a city administrator]. These are elements that kind of stop the mobilization of the population. As if their discourse vanishes. As if there is no longer a need to fight for inclusion. I say it is the other way around because these characters on occasions are used to stop the mobilization of the Afro movement. And it is another way Juan Ocles about the rise of prominent Afro Ecuadorian people in places of social and politi cal power could conceivably be based on a perception of other Afro Ecuadorians as threats or competitors However, this did not appear to be the case own term in office. He explai ned as follows: For instance, with this space that we have won through the organization of black groups of Pichincha and the movement of black women of Quito. This space w as created in February of 2001; nevertheless this space has not fulfilled the hop es of the Afro population. Supposedly, what we do from here is organizational support but we do not even have a means of transportation to go late at night and meet with the people. How can we work in organizational strengthening when we do not have the necessary resources to work on it? That is also part of the decorative speech of the authorities. So the authorities have the lice o not complain, we are supporting. Here we work for the promotion of the Afro values and we create these space s but in the long term it is not like that.


97 Looking at Neoliberal Multiculturalism from Below In this section, criticisms of the multicultural model from within the Afro Ecuadorian social movement are reviewed and accounts by activists are analyzed. Thei r testimonies provide d on the ground insight about complications within the movement, particularly those connected to the multicultural system. Their accounts complement the theoretical arguments made by Hale (2002), Rahier (2008), and Almeida (2005) rega rding the neutralization of ethnic social movements due to cooptation. This process, derived from power discrepancies within the movement, produced fragmentation resulting from conflicts over adequate and respectful representation of Afro Ecuadorians. Die go. a gentleman named Diego, in his mid forties. Diego wa s more affluent than other consultants in this study because of his line of work, as a legal advisor to a multilateral a gency. I present ed excerpts from our interview because he is a key critic of what I tural project (Hale 2004). It wa s important to include the voices of individuals on the ground who sp oke out against the ethnicizing of political discourses i n Quito to present the diversity in activist opinions but also because they paralleled many opinions held by Afro descendants not affiliated with social movement organizations In reference to the political disco urses used by CODAE, academics and certain NGOs, Diego took Afro Ecuadorian leaders to task, exposing corruption among them and the racism still rampant in Ecuadorian society. We are Black. Ecuadorian. Black Ecuadorians. We are Ecuadorian like you are American, not European. The word black is forbidden here. They are confusing the word black for nigger. Actually it i s the word nigger


98 that is bad, not black. Some people think that it is a huge achievement for people to say Afro Ecuadorians b ut in reality that is bullshit. Society still hates the color of our skin. We must stop fooling ourselves. I will be happy when blacks in this country are well off and have achieved a lot. Only then will there be change. We have to be more intelligent Ecuadorian leaders should encourage others. Instead they talk about slavery and take advantage of that. They need to change their speech. They think about their own pockets. Diego was clearly disgruntled by the neoliberal multicultural politics in which bla ck leaders were engaged. He stated that black activists occupy themselves with a change in nomenclature instead of working towards true social and political change. This is a common tenet of the neoliberal multiculturalism critique. From th is persp ective, the state, NGOs and NGO like institutions work towards cultural recognition and cultural reclamation when some of these efforts could be directed towards dismantling discrimination and the structures that perpetuate racial disparities, part icularly those related to skin color Diego also commented on the commodification or professionalization of black activism in Quito. When I asked him about the cultural and political relationship between Afro Brazilians and Af ro Ecuadorians, he respon ded, T he connection is those who use black people as a ticket to trave l world. They are connected t o travel, have jobs, take advantage of the majority. we were called black, now we call ourselves Afro Ecuadorian. But just because you change the name does not mean that things change. We need to stop letting people fool us. Diego was very critical of highly ranked government agents in Quito. He opined many abused their position to fulfill personal aspirations inst ead of tend to the needs of the poo r. He believed socio economic needs had to be met before activists travelled to e spoke openly about these issues because he did not gain anything from playing it safe. With an independent


99 income and ability to often travel outside of the country, there was little need to alter his tone because he was not dependent on or in close contact with the individuals addressed in his narra tive Perhaps other research consultants did not feel comfortable speaking in an open manner because they were part of the social and cultural network of black activists in Quito. In the next subsection I turn to an interview with someone from the grassr oots sector who also critique government politics towards grassroots activists and civil society organizations. Perlas de Africa Power structures affected the experiences of all Afro unity. T his wa s particularly the case when grassroots activists interact ed with NGOs and state agencies. Funding and representation are constant concerns for activists. The distribution of funding for organizations goes through CODAE ( Corporacin de Desarrollo A froecuatoriano ) The Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano affiliated with the Daniel Comboni Church is also a source of funding for organizations and on rare occasions, international agencies like the Inter American Development Bank has contribute d to social movement organizations. Members of the grassroots also made critiques that the state and NGOs were not interested in the poor. For example, some of the women from Perlas de Africa said that these institutions did not refer to them for advice or suggest ions for policy change. They were excluded from certain events, perhaps not directly, but indirectly because of social or physical location. Sometimes events were held on the opposite side of the city, which made it difficult for many grassroots activist s in the north to attend these functions. In general, they told me that there was a significant gap between Afro

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100 Ecuadorian government la gente of black activists in leadership roles and state agents b ecause they did not make an effort to understand the lives and living conditions of the economically marginalized black communi ty. In addition, two of the women said they felt abandoned by the Comboni Church because representatives no longer prepared prog rams that they considered important. Apparently the leadership in earlier years reached out to these women and actively recruited them into the mission. Mira. Mira struggled for respect and recognition from intellectual activists and members of the gov ernment agency CODAE. She voiced this concern as follows: Here our governments use us but never help the poor. For example, if I go to ask for help from the state [CODAE] they will not even permit me to talk to the secretary. You have to talk to the security officer and pass the message but the message will never get there. Today, with the black organization, we realize that we are not objects. We are people that are able to support ourselves with your work, our ideas, our studies, our forces, we are people with a living mind and we have the right to have our necessities. We are no longer conformists, the wishful blacks that wait for the patron to tell us what to do. No. Now we are our own voice and our own vote, free to express and explore what we feel and we do not have to keep our voice hidden. Mira felt that the government does not support the black and poor sectors so civil society organizations are necessary. Mira also made claim to her rights as an Ecuadorian citizen. In her testimo ny she and fellow activists had shed their ty as rights bearing subjects. The movement is a source of power and motivation, which is felt at the personal level. However, grassroots activists were stil l aware of the p ower and politics that restricted their access to official political spaces. In sum, while Mira f ound political subjectivity,

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101 she is denied tr ue citizenship rights because she is excluded from certain spaces, such as state offices. Discu ssion T he Obama event hosted by black activists at Hijos de Ebano pulled indigenous and mestizo groups into a space of politicized blackness. In doing so, these activists re articulated the meanings of blackness in Quito based on their racial identificati on as members of the African Diaspora within a society that has historically excluded them. Many individuals understood blackness as a powerful political tool that momentarily commanded the attention of a racially and culturally diverse crowd of Quiteos. Furthermore, as Ecuadorian blacks relate d to the political movements of Afro descendants throughout the Diaspora, the political weight of the black identity increased. This event stood in contrast to typical state funded intercultural programs that make blackness in Ecuador an event, not a norm. While there are improvements for social inclusion today and regulations for affirmative action policies intended to lead to nt national development plan delineates certain regulations for Afro descendants to be added into the curriculum while instituting quotas for admittances of Afro descendants in higher education. Although the Obama event at Hijos de Ebano momentarily shook the Ecuadorian racial system, it is best understood as an opportunity to understand processes for racial identity formation. The narratives I recorded after this event provide insight into the shifting significance of blackness in Quito. Some activists c onnect the social struggles at home with a globalized form of racialization that places peoples of African descent in

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102 disadvantaged social positions. However the conversations I had with activists in the summer of 2009 convinced me that black activists i n Ecuador are making an effort to work against the hegemonic tendencies of the state that try to neutralize their claims to social justice. Finally, it seems that there needs to be some middle ground needs to be established between the constant celebra tion of blackness in isolated multicultural or intercultural events and the previous model of outright exclusion of blacks from official national spaces. Thus, while music and dance performances allow visibility for the black population they might also b e used by the state and non blacks as evidence that Ecuadorian society has overcome discrimination and social exclusion. It could be said that whereas a decade ago blacks were excluded from representations of national identity, today representations of bl ackness is a stand in for social equality.

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103 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION This thesis explored the ambiguities of race, blackness and identity in Quito. It sought to understand the meanings, expressions and configurations of black identity constructed by black activists in Quito. I analyzed the particular experiences of blackness and subject formation in the context of Ecuadorian nation building. Whereas blackness and Africanity have long been silenced in official narratives of the nation, today blacks are re cognized as a distinct ethno cultural group. These changes have prompted important discussions about who is black or Afro descendant in Ecuadorian society, which has historically been structured around hegemonic ideologies of mestizaje and blanqueamiento Blackness was not simply denied in official discou rses, but in social relations. s this order by mobilizing around a collective black or Afro Ecuadorian identity. Major Findings in the Study The findings detail ed here imply that black identities and the experience of blackness in Quito are highly nuanced. Blackness and black identity are invoked differentially according to particular socio historical circumstances and positionalities within the black social mov ement. In Chapter 2 I delineated the specific conditions and processes that led to the formation of black identities in Ecuador I demonstrated that international factors (i.e. the civil rights movements and liberation struggles in Africa, the creation of multilateral agencies and human rights discourses, and the Catholic Church) and local adaptations (structural adjustment reforms, the activities of Daniel Comboni missionaries, multicultural Constitutional reform, and increased social inequalities) cont ributed to the formation of race and ethnicity cognizant identities in Quito.

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104 In Chapter 3 I demonstrated differences in how individuals interpret Afro Ecuadorian and black identity I found that knowing the cultural and political language of the state and international agencies has its rewards. For example, those who are versed in the discourse of rights and ethnicity are often the ones who are able to attain important spaces in the black social movement and ethnic government agencies. Afro descenda nt activists in Quito live variegated lives and blackness is not necessarily a principle component of their identities. This is especially true when comparing the narratives of the grassroots research consultants with those of the Afro Ecuadorian intellec tual activists. Those in socially and politically powerful positions have a different speech than the grassroots sector, which in turn affects their mobility within the Afro Ecuadorian social movement and in the social/racial topography of Quito in genera l. In Chapter 4 I explored how activists negotiate blackness and identity in hegemonic state funded multiculturalisms. I found that at least for my ethnographic case study, state funded programs have the tendency to reduce Afro Ecuadorian identities an d histories to cultural artifacts and aesthetic representations. Afro Ecuadorian activists are forced to negotiate their identities against these tendencies and diversify the meaning of blackness. This objective was met during the Obama panel, which I ar gued provided an ethnographic transruption that opened a forum for discussions of race, culture, nationality, and transnationalilty. Caveats and Limitations These findings cannot be extrapolated beyond the small sample size. My research does not repres ent the views or actions of all Afro descendants in Quito. Nor do they represent all Afro Ecuadorian activists in Quito. I interviewed 35 individuals

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105 from different types of organizations and levels of activity that compose the general Afro Ecuadorian so cial movement community. Some felt more or less identified with black organizations and others were more committed to gender based organizations. For instance two of the women whom I interviewed told me that given the choice, they would rather attend an gender black m ovement organizational event. F inally I have strong reason to believe that Afro descendants in Quito who are not affiliated with social movement organizations do not privilege blacknes s over other aspects of their identity, as is often the case with members of the community with whom I spoke. Implications for Future Research Race, culture and politics will continue to be important topics in Latin American societies and soc ial science research. We have gained only glimpses of phases of this cycle. Therefore, this research is only the beginning of greater scholarly and activist trajectories. These findings are important for the study of social movements and identity formation because they demonstrate the complexities of racial identities in the context of unequal power relations There are several possibilities for future research. For example, it will be important to understand how black activists and discourses on blackness are sha ped over time in accordance to changing state formations and international developments. This is particularly true in the present moment in there have been notable alteratio ns towards the democratization of politics. The increased visibility of Afro Ecuadorian agencies and the relationships between the government and Afro Ecuadorian social movement organizations will produce unpredictable results. This changing dynamic coul d lead to fissures within the black

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106 social movement and with others fighting for limited resources. On the other hand, this relationship might bring about positive changes towards addressing racial inequalities. Furthermore, I am particularly interested in understanding the dynamic between various layers of black subjectivities and nationalities in Quito. The number of Afro descendant immigrants in Quito is steadily rising. The majority foreign born Afro descendants in Quito are Colombian while Nigeria ns, Kenyans, and Cubans populations are also significant. These groups experience discrimination from various fronts: for their nationality, for the color of their skin, their class, culture or occupation. Women bear the brunt of this discrimination beca use they are subjected to particular forms of subordination and shifting stereotypes that work to maintain gender and racial inequality The Ecuadorian government does not grant citizenship to the vast majority of immigrants that come from poor countries They are criminals according to state legislation. These groups face intense racial discrimination and experience race in specific ways around them To the best of my kno wledge, there are currently no partnerships between black Ecuadorians and black immigrants in the struggle against anti black discrimination. Based on my fieldwork in Quito, it seems that there are in fact tens ions between these various ethnic and racial groups that collectively compose blackness in Quito. Therefore, I am interested in the particular relationships and discussions around race, nationality and citizenship in Quito that will arise in the years to come.

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107 LIST OF REFERENCES IFA (Instituto de Formacin Afroecuatoriana) 2008 Las Negras y Negros en Amrica Latina y frica: Talleres de Identidad. In Centro Cultural Afro de Quito. P.A.d. Quito, ed. Quito. Almeida Vinueza, Jos 2005 The Ecuadorian Indigenous Movement and the Gutirrez Regime: Traps of Multiculturalism. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 28(1):93 111. Andrews, George Reid 2004 Afro Latin America, 1800 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Becker, Marc 2007 State Building a n d Ethnic Discourse in Ecuador's 1944 1945 Asamblea Con stituyente In Highland Indians and the State in Modern Ecuador Kim Clark.and Mark Becker, ed s Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press. Booker, Salih and William Minter 2001 Global Apartheid. The Nation, 2: 11 16. Busdiecker, Sarah 2006 We Are Bolivians T oo: The Experience and Meaning of Blackness in Bolivia, Anthropology University of Michigan. Caldwell, Kia Lilly 2007 Negras in Brazil. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Castro, Mary T. and Henry Medina 2006 Afroecuatorianos: Un Movimiento Social Emergente. Quito: Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano Cohen, Philip and Harwant Bains 1988 The Perversion of Inheritance: Studies in the Making of Multi Racist Britain. In Multi Racist Britain. Philip Cohen and Harwant Bains, eds. Pp. 9 118. Houndmills: Macm illan Education. D e la Torre, Carlos 2002 Afroquiteos, Ciudadana y Racismo. Quito: Centro Andino de Accin Popular. 2005 Afro Ecuadorian Responses to Racism: Between Citizenship and Corporatism. In Neither Enemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro Latin os Suzanne Oboler and Anani Dzidzienyo, ed s New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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108 Escobar, Arturo 2010 Latin America at a Crossroads: Alternative Modernizations, Postliberalism, or Postdevelopment? In Violence and Reconciliation in Latin America: Human Rights, M emory, and Democracy. W.M.C.f.L.a. Politics, ed. Pp. 1 61. University of Oregon, Eugene. Escobar, Arturo, and Sonia E. Alvarez ed s 1992 The Making of Social Movements in Latin America: Identity, Strategy, and Democracy. Boulder: Westview Press. Falcn, Sy lvanna 2008 Mestiza Double Consciousness: The voices of Afro Peruvian Women on Gendered Racism. Gender & Society, 22(5): 660 680. Fernndez Rasnes, Paloma 2001 Afrodescendencia en el Ecuador: Raza y Gnero desde los Tiempos de la Colonia. Quito: Abya Yala Foucault, Michel 1975 Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison Industry. New York City: Vantage Books. Fr iedemann, Nina de and Jaime Arocha, eds 1986 De sol a sol: gnesis transformacin y presencia de los negros en Colombia. Bogot: Planeta. Greenba um, Susan 2002 More Than Black: Afro Cubans in Tampa. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Hale, Charles 2002 Does Multiculturalism Menace? Governance, Cultural Rights and the Politics of Identity in Guatemala. Journal of Latin American Studies 34(3 ):485 524. 2004 Rethinking Indigenous Politics in the Era of the "Indio Permetido". NACLA Report on the Americas 38(2): 16 21. 2006 Mas Que Un Indio: Racial Ambivalence and Neoliberal Multicult uralism in Guatemala. Santa Fe: School of American Research. Hanchard, Michael 1994 Orpheus and Power: The Movimiento Negro of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil 1945 1988. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Harrison, Faye 1995 The Persistent Power of "Race" in the Cultural and Political Economy of Racism. Ann ual Review of Anthropology 24:47 74.

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109 2002 Global Apartheid, Foreign Policy, and Human Rights. Souls 4(3):48 68. Hesse, Barnor 2000 "Introduction: Un/Settled Multiculturalisms." In Un/Settled Multiculturalisms: Diasporas, Entanglements, Transruptions. B ar nor Hesse, ed. Pp. 1 30. London: Zed Books. Lasso, Marixa 2007 Myths of Harmony: Race and Republicanism during the Age of Revolution, Colombia, 1795 1831. Pittsburg: Pittsburg University Press. Matory, J. Lorand 2005 Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro Brazilian Candombl. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Mullings, Leith 2008a Introduction: New Social Movements in the African Diaspora. Souls 10(3):193 196. 2008b Race and Globalization: Racialization fro m Below. In Transnational Blackness: Navigating the Global Color Line. M anning Marable and Vanessa Agard Jones ed s Pp. 7 17. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Pastoral Afro de Quito 2009 Vivencia y Dimension Misionera de las Comunidades Critianas Negras. P.A .d. Quito, ed. Radcliffe, Sarah 2010 Re mapping the Nation: Cartography, Geographical Knowledge and Ecuadorean Multiculturalism. Journal of Latin American Studies (42):293 323. Rahier, Jean 1998 Blackness, the Racial/Spatial Order, Migrations and and Miss Ecuador 1995 96. American Anthropologist, 100(2):421 430. 2003 Racist Stereotypes and the Embodiment of Blackness: Some Narratives of Female Sexuality in Quito. In Millenial Ecuador: Critical Essays on Cultural Tran sformations and Social Dynamics. Norman Whitten, ed. Pp. 296 324. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. 2008 Soccer and the ( Tri ) Color of the Ecuadorian Nation: Visual and Ideological (Dis ) Continuities of Black Otherness from Monocultural Mestizaje to Multiculturalism. Visual Anthropology Rev iew 24(2):148 182. Restrepo, Eduardo

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113 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Meredith Main is originally from Columbus, Ohio. She moved to Gainesville, Florida at age 12. Ms. Main attended several schools in Gainesville, North Carolina, and Massachusetts before entering the high scho ol dual enrollment program at Santa Fe College. Her interest in Anthropology grew after completing several a nthropology courses with Professor Stuart McRae. She travelled to Honduras and Peru with her anthropology classmates. These experiences sparked h er interest in Latin America. Meredith graduated from the University of Florida with summa cum laude distinction in 2006 She travelled to Quito, Ecuador the following year to complete a language program and to participate in internship opportunities. It was during this trip that she realized she wanted to know more about the Afro Ecuadorian community in that city Ms. Main Latin American Studies in 2010 and plans to enter a doctoral pr ogram in a nthropology in fall of 2011.