Intercultural Indians, multicultural Mestizas : developing gender and identity in neoliberal Ecuador



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In Ecuador and elsewhere in developing Latin America, femininity and indigenousness are the subjects of multicultural development methodologies of identity and gender "training", such as capacity building, education, and participation. This dissertation considers how neoliberal economic and political shifts affect actors in these development projects for indigenous women of Eastern Ecuador. At the same time, it shows how this "neoliberal multiculturalism" shapes and limits efforts to create social and economic justice for indigenous women. In this feminist ethnography, development participants express politics of identity among transnationalized spaces of indigenous political interests, racial and gender ideologies, economic and political crises, and donor shifts of funding, methodologies and target populations. This manuscript critically analyzes multicultural development discourses, such as interculturality, identity, participation, and gender through their articulation and practice, where these performances are theorized as expression of "development desire". Development's ground level intermediaries, "Intercultural Indians", bear a burden of mediating development and identity, and show how power productively works through historical subjects to racisms and patriarchies. "Multicultural Mestizas" are development professionals who employ identity and gender development models upon indigenous women. They ambiguously benefit from a patriarchal and racist mestizaje ideology. Indigenous politics and development practices come together in a form of neoliberal multiculturalism that provokes national anxieties about emergent national configurations of race and gender.