‘Diacuí Killed Iracema’: Indigenism, Nationalism and the Struggle for Brazilianness



If categories of ‘race’ and nationality are social and historical constructions laden with irrefutable meaning and consequences, then ethnic identities, like any other forms of identity, are means to other ends that may or may not be particular. Twentieth-century indigenist history in Brazil reveals how the cultural politics of indigenism and nationalism can coalesce in a tautological politics of identity that undermines individual liberty and democratic heterogeneity. The concepts ‘post-indigenism,’‘post-nationalism‘ and ‘post-identity’ point to the strategic suspension of the infinite heterogeneity of the political subject as a means to widen the ground of shared experience and common interests beyond the realm of hollow and oppressive essentialisms.