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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

European conquests of the Americas invented the fictitious category of ‘indigenous’ people, which enabled Europeans to rule culturally diverse people as if they were identical. During independence, Ibero-American elites ironically claimed affiliation with historical native peoples as a means of justifying their independence from Spain. Since Spanish and Portuguese American colonial authorities exercised dominion over people rather than land, the newly independent governments had to reframe the fictitious identity of ‘natives’ in order to establish legitimate dominion. The emergence of subaltern women writers during the twentieth century notably included Mayan Rigoberta Menchu, who appealed to cosmopolitan humanitarianism to end brutalities in Guatemala. However, cosmopolitanism proved insufficient to bring about political change, leaving only the exposé and the testimonio in place.

Keywords: Plural colonialisms, Latin American subalterns, cosmopolitanism, native communities, indigenism

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