Ethnodevelopment: Social Movements, Creating Experts and Professionalising Indigenous Knowledge in Ecuador

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Indigenous social movements have become important development actors in recent years. As the targets of “socially inclusive” neoliberal policies and protagonists in global anti‐capitalist movements, the position of these social movements in mainstream development is often ambivalent. This ambivalence reflects contradictions between economic neoliberalism and goals of social development as well as different understandings and practices in development‐with‐identity. We explore the relationship between the institutionalisation of ethnodevelopment and the creation of indigenous experts through indigenous social movements’ engagement in popular training that emphasises indigenous knowledge. Drawing on Michael Watt's notion of governable spaces of indigeneity, we examine how institutionalisation is occurring in a range of ways that establish new alliances and cut across scales. Analysing the politics occurring at the development policy interface, we focus on the processes of representation, negotiation and embodiment involved in indigenous professionalisation, as activism shapes “scaled up” policy making.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK;, Email: 2: Department of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, USA;, Email: 3: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK;, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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