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Histories of the Present

People and Power in Ecuador

A unique examination of ethnography as a theory-constructive endeavor focused on indigenous and Afro-descended Ecuadorian people

The wellspring of critical analysis in this book emerges from Ecuador's major Indigenous Uprising of 1990 and its ongoing aftermath in which indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian action transformed the nation-state and established new dimensions of human relationships. The authors weave anthropological theory with longitudinal Ecuadorian ethnography to produce a unique contribution to Latin American studies.

"In the Whittens' hands, culture is deeply relational. They develop a vocabulary of interculturality, alternative modernity, and emergent culture to convey how the transformative capacity of people operates in their power over signs."--The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

"The length and breadth of the Whittens' fieldwork in Ecuador adds a level of depth and insight that is unparalleled in Latin American studies. Their way of integrating earlier and more recent theories allows readers to understand how the contemporary concern for ethnogenesis, interculturality, and alternative modernities was anticipated several decades ago in works that still speak to us today in relevant terms."--Jonathan D. Hill, author of Made-from-Bone: Trickster Myths, Music, and History from the Amazon

"This book historicizes ethnography in a unique, witness-participant way, bringing margins to center but also showing how indigenous and African-descended Ecuadorians have 'taken over' the country's history-in-the-making."--Kris Lane, author of Quito 1599: City and Colony in Transition

Norman E. Whitten Jr., a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the editor of the University of Illinois Press's series Interpretations of Culture in the New Millennium. Dorothea Scott Whitten was a research associate at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and a Curator of the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They collaborated on many projects, including Puyo Runa: Imagery and Power in Modern Amazonia.

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