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Keywords:

  • Venezuela;
  • Yukpa;
  • memory;
  • indigenous rights;
  • participatory mapping

This article examines the role of memory performance in participatory mapping in indigenous communities, in particular in terms of driving radical action for territorial rights. By examining the links between memory performance, processes of identity formation and the social constructions of landscape, the article suggests that greater critical consideration should be given to participatory mapping as process, as opposed to participatory maps as products. This is particularly important in the current push for land, resource and territorial rights among indigenous peoples in Venezuela and beyond. The article is based on a participatory mapping project conducted with indigenous residents of the Yukpa community of Toromo in the Sierra de Perijá, Venezuela, in the years 2007–2011. The mapping process inspired the speaking of memory, which in turn articulated with autochthonous debates regarding land rights and development strategies. By drawing on Ricoeur's conceptualisation of memory and narrative identity, the article presents and critically analyses memory performances of violence, exile and deceit, which reflect memory themes constitutive of a ‘duty to remember’ and ‘a duty to map’ so often expressed by Yukpa.