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How Do Real Indians Fish? Neoliberal Multiculturalism and Contested Indigeneities in the Colorado Delta

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Abstract

ABSTRACT  There has been a growing interest in anthropology regarding how certain political conditions set the stage for “articulations” between indigenous movements and environmental actors and discourses. However, relatively little attention has been paid to how these same conditions can suppress demands for indigenous rights. In this article, I argue that the pairing of neoliberalism and multiculturalism in contemporary Mexico has created political fields in which ethnic difference has been foregrounded as a way of denying certain rights to marginalized groups. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in northern Mexico, I analyze how the arguments of a group of Cucapá for fishing rights in the Colorado Delta have been constrained within these political circumstances. I argue that cultural difference has been leveraged by the Mexican federal government and local NGOs to prevent the redistribution of environmental resources among vulnerable groups such as the Cucapá.

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