Hybrid Indigeneities and Ethnobotanies Place-making in the Contemporary Colombian Andean Pacific

Authors: Rafael Mutis García*, City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Black/African and Indigenous cosmologies, Colombia, Latin America, alternatives to development, community protection, transformative justice, ethnobotany, environmental justice, herbal medicine-making, Indigenous and Afro agricultural and land tenure practices, Andean Pacific, women, lgbti people.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Spruce, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Majestic Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Through the use of ethnographic methods- interviews and active participant observation, I documented for my dissertation project and for my community contacts’ use, the current ethnobotanical practices of several rural communities of Indigenous Nasa and Afro-indigenous peoples in northern Cauca on the Colombian Andean Pacific Coast. Their herbal medicine-making, agriculture and land tenure practices reflect particular current ways of being and living in these places that stretch back to ancestral ones. While colonially-imposed racialized misogyny/heterosexism on Afro and Indigenous peoples affect them today, their ethnobotanical practices based on indigenous cosmologies and epistemologies work toward community autonomy and self determination to counter these exogenously-imposed constraints. Through this paper presentation, I will tell of examples shared with me of these ethnobotanical practices - including the pedagogical game la batea del saber, organic & subsistence farming, the making of herbal medicine, recovering the indigenous tongue Nasa Yiwe, reclaiming Black cultures, transformative justice work through Centros de Armonización, community protection work through las Guardias Indígena y Cimarrona and environmental justice initiatives. These communities construct hybrid ethnobotanies in the context of the long durée of the colonially-imposed and now even more globally expanded extractive regime dominated by newer forms of racial capitalism, settler colonialism and land grabs, and the violence that has made it possible. These more harmonious ethnobotanical practices then help the Nasa and Afro peoples in Cauca maintain relations of solidarity in the context of genocidal violence particularly since the ratification of the 1991 Colombian Constitution and in the current so-called post-conflict era.

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