‘Dirty Indians’, Radical Indígenas, and the Political Economy of Social Difference in Modern Ecuador1



    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 341 Haines Hall, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
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Abstract — This article examines alternative conceptions of social difference in Otavalo, Ecuador. On the one hand, in the northern Andes, the language of ethnicity has become a potent force, connected to an indigenous political movement and the profits of handicraft dealing. On the other, ‘race’ and an ‘hygienic racism’ preoccupied with pernicious stereotypes about ‘dirty Indians’ continue to define the social and political landscape. Contrasting these notions of social difference, I show how the indigenous movement in Ecuador receives less support from native peasants who see the world in polarised ‘racial’ terms.