Memory in Sacred Places: The Re-Indigenization Process of the Muisca Community

Authors: Paola Andrea Sánchez Castaneda*, Florida International University
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Sacred Places, Urbanization, Muisca, Colombia.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Muisca community of Suba, located in Bogota, Colombia, is a place-based community whose epistemology is rooted in what is now an urban environment. After enduring over five centuries of segregation, marginalization, displacement, and near cultural obliteration, the Muisca community has thrived to the present day and is currently undertaking the task of re-indigenization through the revitalization of their traditional knowledge and the process of ethnogenesis. The effects of urbanization on the Muisca have not only changed the physical spaces which they inhabit, but it has also disrupted the relational patterns between the community and their sacred places. This severing of the community from their sacred places has had the effect of further invisibilizing the Muisca’s ethnic identity in the national social imaginary. As a form of resistance to their marginality, the Muisca are engaging in symbolic practices, in both public and private spaces, as a means of cultivating ideological resistance, memory revitalization, and generating new meanings of their collective identity. This paper, based on an ethnographic case study, seeks to examine how the Muisca community is symbolically re-appropriating their sacred places in this urban context to mend the social fabric of the Muisca community. As such, this revitalization project represents an attempt to reconstruct a forgotten indigenous identity by rewriting the historical memory of a community that disappeared from the national discourse.

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