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Contemporary Native American Societies


Admission requirements

BA in Latin American Studies, or related discipline


This course provides an overview of contemporary social, cultural, political and developmental issues of the native peoples of South America that situates current issues in an historical context. Students will focus on the situation of the area they are studying for their thesis, carry out research (library, Internet etc). and write a paper with an in-depth analysis.

  • During 4 weeks the news will be kept track of on a daily basis; the student will choose from the following possible topics or select one independently (self chosen topics need to be confirmed by professors):

  • Transnationalism issues

  • Globalisation

  • Art and identity

  • Language Revitalisation

  • Intercultural Communication

  • Legislation

  • Policies and Politics

  • Land rights

  • Gender issues

  • Corruption

  • Conservation issues

  • Drugs-related issues

Course objectives

  • Create an overview of Amerindian movements currently present in South America

  • Analyze the overarching backgrounds and raison d’être for these movements

  • Establish socio-cultural positionality of Amerindian societies in South American nation-states


Monday 15-17

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Active participation (30%), a presentation of 30 minutes (40%), and a book review (30%).



Reading list

  • Anthropological monographs and other recent literature (including press and internet) on contemporary Native American communities

  • Literature to be assigned at start of course and during course (depending on chosen topic)

  • For the historical contexts students are required to read relevant sections of F. Salomon & S. Schwartz, The Cambridge History of Native American Peoples: South America (2 vols). Cambridge University Press (1999), available in Cambridge Histories Online:

    General Background reading

  • the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)

  • related international legal instruments (see for example: ; ; ;