Published date30 June 2011
Date30 June 2011
AuthorKathleen M. Sullivan,Sandra Brunnegger
Kathleen M. Sullivan and Sandra Brunnegger
This symposium explores current and emerging relations between states and
indigenous peoples in Latin America. These relationships are being
hammered out within a proliferating constellation of rights discourses –
including indigenous rights, environmental rights, economic rights, cultural
rights, language rights, and human rights, and shaped through empirical
encounters between specif‌ic groups of indigenous peoples and states, and
through the participation of indigenous peoples in international as well as
state institutions. The symposium authors address a number of signif‌icant
aspects of this contemporary f‌ield of changing discourses and practices,
including the ‘‘vernacularization’’ (Merry, 1992, 2006a) of rights, the role of
international legal instruments and institutions, notions of autonomy and
collectivity, which are rooted in colonial and postcolonial histories of power
and resistance.
The symposium begins with the papers that foreground the practices of
indigenous peoples. Contesse opens the symposium by examining the
national context for the struggle over indigenous rights in Chile, in light of
international legal instruments, especially ILO Convention 169, which was
only recently ratif‌ied there. Sieder and Brunnegger each provide different
examples of the ways in which indigenous leaders are working to establish
and maintain indigenous legal systems within the context of state systems of
rule of law and courts in Guatemala and Colombia, respectively. Although
both authors approach state–indigenous relations from the perspective of
indigenous communities concerned about establishing their own indigenous
judicial systems, each addresses a different social register of practices and
Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Volume 55, 3–17
Copyright r2011 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
ISSN: 1059-4337/doi:10.1108/S1059-4337(2011)0000055004

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