The Colombian activist Juan Gregorio Palechor (1923-1992) dedicated his life to championing indigenous rights in Cauca, a department in the southwest of Colombia, where he helped found the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca. Recounting his life story in collaboration with the Colombian anthropologist Myriam Jimeno, Palechor traces his political awakening, his experiences in national politics, the disillusionment that resulted, and his turn to a more radical activism aimed at confronting ethnic discrimination and fighting for indigenous territorial and political sovereignty.
Palechor's lively memoir is complemented by Jimeno's reflections on autobiography as an anthropological tool and on the oppressive social and political conditions faced by Colombia's indigenous peoples. A faithful and fluent transcription of Palechor's life story, this work is a uniquely valuable resource for understanding the contemporary indigenous rights movements in Colombia.
Foreword / Joanne Rappaport ix Preface xii Acknowledgments xv Introduction 1 Part 1. Narrations, Life Stories, and Autobiographies For Those Who Come After 10 The Anthropological Narrative as Dialogue 12 Life Stories, Biographies, and Autobiographies 14 Recovering the Subaltern Vision 17 Reality, Experience, and Expression: The Authorship of Oral Histories 19 Debates on Techniques in Life Stories 22 Part 2. Juan Gregorio Palechor: Between the Community and the Nation Identity and Ethnic Re-Creation 28 Ethnicity as Social Relation 35 The Limits of Diversity and Ethnic Recognition 37 Juan Gregorio Palechor: Between the Community and the Nation 44 Cauca, the Guachicono Resguardo, and Indigenous Movements 54 Identity and the Struggle for the Resguardo 60 A Politics of Our Own and the Reinvention of Identity 65 Part 3. Juan Gregorio Palechor: The Story of My Life Where I Come From: Five Generations of the Macizo Colombiano and Guachicono 76 Recognizing the Way of the World and Observing the Weather 78 Life on the Resguardo 80 Our Nervousness about School and What We Were Taught 88 The Harshness of Family Life and the Art of Agriculture 92 When I Was Conscripted 96 Learning New Things 102 Public Life and Political Violence 104 During the Violence, I Was Forced by Necessity to Work as a Tinterillo 110 The Formation of Community Action Committees: The Liberal Revolutionary Movement and the National Front 119 Religion, Money, and Politics 124 Working with the MRL and the Political Parties 131 The Management Class of the Catholic Religion 135 Looking for an Organization: The Campesino Association and the Indigenous Organization 138 My Work in the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) 143 The Struggles of CRIC and Indigenous Traditions 148 Politiqueros and Their Empty Words 156 Why an Organization of Indigenous People? 158 Appendix: CRIC Documents 163 Glossary 191 Notes 195 References 215 Index 225