What happens after a government recognizes the rights of Indigenous communities, but underlying social justice issues remain unresolved, leading to interethnic conflicts that are sometimes violent? This question drives Fontana’s study of what she calls "the dark side of indigeneity" (p. 8). While extending rights to previously marginalized groups has strengthened democracy and addressed persistent problems of racial discrimination and socioeconomic inequality, Fontana (Univ. of Glasgow, UK) argues that these policies have also laid the seeds for new social conflicts. Drawing on case studies informed by two years of field work in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, she examines horizontal or peer-to-peer conflicts rather than vertical challenges to government structures or more powerful actors. Recognizing that ethnic rights have led to competition for goods, services, power, social boundaries, and leadership, Fontana challenges the hesitancy among scholars to examine the effects of the ethnicization of social conflicts and collective identities on the overall cohesion of societies and communities. This book draws heavily on Deborah J. Yashar’s Contesting Citizenship in Latin America (CH, Jan'06, 43-3043), and is similarly theoretically informed. It will be most useful to those already familiar with the literature on the politicization of ethnic identities in Latin America.
Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty.