Debates in Latin American Social Theory

Final Session



Get together with people who are thinking of developing the same question/prompt as you. Brainstorm central ideas, annotate doubts or points to clarify, and discuss your tentative approach to the project.


1. Expand on how the Tainos in the Caribbean resisted and fought Spanish colonization and enslavement by highlighting examples from the film Even the Rain and the video Paradise Lost: The Taino Rebellion of 1511.

2. Compare how African and Afro-indigenous maroons and indigenous groups in Brazil have kept a centuries-long struggle to protect their land, ancestral knowledge, and ways of living by analyzing the film Quilombo and the Vox documentary series “The Amazon.”

3. Explain why the Zapatista uprising took place and how it evolved into the creation of autonomous indigenous communities. Develop your arguments by analyzing the documentary The Uprising of Dignity: The Zapatista Movement in Chiapas/Mexico and the “Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle” by the Zapatistas (EZLN).

4. Examine the notion of neocolonialism and horizontal activism by discussing the Cochabamba Water War in Bolivia as presented in the film Even the Rain and the article “Reflections from Bolivia: Water Wars, Climate Wars and Change from Below” by David Solnit.

5. What role does the government play in the life of indigenous people in the Amazonas? By discussing the Vox documentary series “The Amazon,” identify policies that have protected and supported the rights of indigenous people and their land and the laws and political discourse that have contributed to illegal deforestation, agricultural development, and violence.

6. Elaborate on the impact of Chimaycha music and Indigenous-centric radio in the recovery and contemporary development of Quechua’s ecological thought, spiritual views, language, and living in Perú. Incorporate Joshua Tucker’s essay “Nature Sonorous Politics.”

7. How does the virtual exhibition “I’m New Here” stimulate a re-connection with Black and Indigenous Ecologies while challenging notions of capitalist ownership and colonial logic in using the camera? Incorporate examples from at least two photographers and the artists’ and curator’s statements in your discussion.

8. What would an Indigenous-inspired future look like? Pick at least two sources from our indigenous ecologies unit and discuss how these indigenous groups offer us a model of ecological conservancy, community fortitude, historical awareness, and autonomy.

Individual Feedback on the Course

Write your response on a card:

.What did you learn in our class?

.What was your favorite topic/reading/film/author/assignment?

.What was difficult this semester and how did you overcome that obstacle?

I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Ecologies

Entry Question

What topics from the sources we have discussed during the second half of the semester would you like to see included in the final? Propose a preliminary question

I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies is a collective rallying call against colonialism. Seven artists interpret the relationship between Black and Indigenous communities both to each other and to the land.  (181)

The group exhibition brings together communities that span beyond borders, of people who subvert the colonial technology of the camera to create the conditions for intimacy between themselves and the people with whom they create the image. (184)

Aware that the lens can function as the tool of the voyeur, the artists instead choose a closeness and proximity with their subjects, whom they know intimately. The captions and writing about their subjects form the necessary context and consent for the art to have more value beyond aesthetics. The photographs have a texture through which you can almost hear the rustling of the leaves and the crashing of the waves. The viewer becomes immersed in a fluid space of Afro-Indigenous survivance and futurity. (185)

For each artist, the focus on the natural environment does not preclude the human form. As the Jamaican philosopher Sylvia Wynter teaches us, the Enlightenment tradition of Western thought invents a false binary between the human and the nonhuman. Narrating from three nations in the eastern Caribbean—Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines—each photographer frames the visuality of the faces of Black and Indigenous people in order to tell the story of survival despite the cataclysm of European colonialism. (186)

-Tatiana Esh, “Dark Chorus”

Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies-Curators’ Statements

Workshop and Class Presentation


1. In pairs observe, read the statement, and have a conversation about your assigned photographer using these questions as guidance:

What interests and intrigues you about this photo?

What details would you highlight?

What stories and questions emerge from it?

What type of relationship with the ecosystem can you trace?

Do you identify a commentary on colonialism? An alternative to colonial relationships? Explain

How does the photographer invite us to envision Black and Indigenous intimacy and futures?

2. Present your ideas to the class