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Colloquium Archive

Christa Olson

Name: Christa Olson, Department of English

Presentation Title: “Strategic Incorporations: Indigeneity and the Body of the Nation”

Date: April 2, 2009


Rhetoricians from the classical to the contemporary remind us that part of doing rhetoric is paying attention to that which is generally accepted (doxa, common sense, conventional wisdom, etc.). Whether the project is finding the best tools for persuasion or understanding why identification worked in a particular way at a particular moment, the force of the commonplace is key. In this presentation, I explore one of the particularly durable commonplaces of Ecuadorian national identity: the figure of the indígena. Demonstrating that performances of stylized indigeneity have played powerful roles in elite (non-Indigenous) Ecuadorian's imagining of the body of the nation, I suggest that indigeneity has served as an embodiable topos in Ecuador, granting legitimacy and authenticity to a State often focused, paradoxically, on the occlusion of indigenous communities.