The 2009 Lozano Long Conference Contested Modernities: Indigenous and Afro-descendant Experiences in Latin America

February 26-28, 2009

The 2009 Lozano Long Conference sponsored by the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies will be Contested Modernities: Indigenous and Afro-descendant Experiences in Latin America. This will be a scholarly gathering to discuss the specific contours of disparate modern experiences in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, and the Andes, where ethnic markers led to fundamentally distinct modernizing processes from elsewhere on the continent.

Considerable progress has been made in scholarship over the past two decades to address the numerous conceptual failings that had left Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples invisible or marginalized in relation to dominant narratives and analytical frames. To an important degree, these contestations have been carried out by indigenous and Afro-descendant intellectuals themselves in a way that has served to highlight the closely intertwined relationship between scholarly trends and societal politics. Yet, an important facet of this scholarly transformation remains woefully incomplete, perhaps reflecting the difficulties of the corresponding political challenge. It is generally acknowledged that Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples face parallel histories of racism and oppression, and that their struggles for rights and redress follow similar patterns as well. But when it comes to empirical research and sustained analytical work, the most common pattern is to address the two separately, rather than viewing both through the same analytical lens. In the realm of literature and literary analysis a similar pattern holds. There surely are sound political and analytical reasons in particular cases. But the divide itself, and the different emphases within each body of scholarship, also betray some suspicious parallels to the racial ideologies to which both peoples have been subjected over the past 500 years.

This conference will be dedicated to probing this divide, by showcasing scholarship and political interventions that place indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the same analytical lens. We seek to explore and problematize this divide, without assuming that it should be eliminated, or that it should stay in place. Rather, our guiding premise is that rigorous historical, humanistic, and social analysis of the underlying question will both energize scholarly debates and contribute to the bridge-building of commonality and difference, from which the struggles of both peoples stand to benefit.

Conference participants have been centrally involved in debates about Afro-descendant and/or indigenous politics, culture, and history in Latin America. They will anchor the various thematic areas around which the conference panels will be organized, which include but are not limited to:

  • Postcapitalist, postliberal, and poststatist societies;
  • alternative modernizations or the end of coloniality;
  • artistic manifestations of disparate cultural experiences;
  • points of convergence and points of divergence in indigenous and Afro-descendant experiences;
  • legal and political struggles for rights and new citizenship regimes;
  • communal systems, stability, noncapitalist practices and nonstate forms of power;
  • human rights, indigenous communities, and Afro-descendant communities; and
  • religious practices and alternative modernizations.

Call For Papers

Those interested in participating should send their abstracts (250.300 words) as well as a short bio-bibliographical notice (200 words) to the two convenors, Dr. Arturo Arias ( and Dr. Charles R. Hale ( The deadline for sending the proposals is October 1, 2008. Notification of acceptance will be by November 15, 2008. Be sure that the abstract makes clear the connection between your paper proposal and the concept statement of the conference.

Contested Modernities is organized by an eight-member Conference Steering Committee from across the UT campus. All decisions are made collectively. Members are Arturo Arias (Spanish and Portuguese); Jossianna Arroyo (Spanish and Portuguese); Karen Engle (Law); Virginia Garrard Burnett (History); Frank Guridy (History); Charles R. Hale (Anthropology); Juliet Hooker (Government); and Shannon Speed (Anthropology).


With generous support from these cosponsoring units: Departments of Anthropology, History, Government, Religious Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese; Program in Comparative Literature; John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies; Humanities Institute; Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice; Office of Thematic Initiatives and Community Engagement; and the College of Liberal Arts.

  • Conference Program [pdf - 1.2MB]
  • Conference Bios. [pdf - 23KB]