nl en

Contemporary Native American Societies


Admission requirements

The admission requirements for the MA in American Indian Studies are applicable: BA in archaeology or Latin American and Caribbean Studies, or BA in a related discipline.


Throughout the Americas, indigenous peoples are actively involved in negotiating their ethnic identities. The processes of defining and redefining these identities take place against national backdrops of individual Latin American countries, and these settings co-determine the specific emphases placed in these processes. These cultural movements are often perceived in the national contexts and on the international forum as ranging from ‘political movements’ and ‘indigenous activism’ to ‘militant or even terrorist groupings’. This spectrum in opinions underscores the active debate in which many contemporary Amerindian societies are currently being situated or situating themselves. Representation and self-representation will be recurring themes in this course, which will emphasize the increasing role that Amerindian societies claim in their respective Latin American nations. In particular attention will be given to the position research and researchers play in this forum. What is the current state in which the people you will be dealing with in the development of your research, are placed. How is this reported upon by international, national, regional and local sources? And in how far does your own research play.

This course provides an overview of contemporary social, cultural, political and developmental issues of the native peoples of the Americas. Students will focus on the situation of the area they are studying for their thesis, carry out research (library, Internet etc). and write a paper with an in-depth analysis.

Course objectives

  • Create an overview of Amerindian movements currently present in Latin America

  • Gain insight in the overarching backgrounds and raison d’être for these movements

  • Establish socio-cultural positionality of Amerindian societies in Latin American nation-states



Method of Instruction


Assessment method

  1. For the regular class: different assignments (literature study, comments on blackboard), with active participation in discussion, a poster presentation, and a book review.
  2. The seminar may be expanded with another 5 ects by writing a paper (of approx. 3000 words), containing the analysis of the present-day social reality and worldview of a specific indigenous people in the Americas (preferably in the area of thesis research).

Reading list

  • Anthropological monographs and other recent literature (including press and internet) on contemporary Native American communities

  • Literature to be assigned at start of course and during course (depending on chosen topic)

  • Point of departure has to be:

  1. the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and
  2. related international legal instruments (see for example: ; ; ; ; ) and
  3. some theoretical literature (e.g. Luis Matías, Repression and Rebellions in Southern Mexico. The Search for a political economy of dignity. PhD Dissertation Free University, Amsterdam 2007: Thela Latin American Series, Dutch University Press, accessible through internet).


Register via uSis.

Contact information

Dr. L. van Broekhoven