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Of visions and sorrows: Manuel Quintín Lame's Indian thought and the violences of Colombia

Monica Espinosa Arango, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The dissertation is a historical ethnography of Manuel Quintín Lame's Indian thought and social movement (La Quintinada, 1910–1921; the Lamismo, 1922–1967) in southwest Colombia based on multi-layered historical, ethnographical, and textual analyses of archival documentation and ethnographic interviews. It examines Lame's Indian thought as an oppositional subaltern thinking and a critique of the genocidal violences of civilization and the evils of colonialism. It also examines the way in which Lame's thought was channeled into a modern politics, historical consciousness, insurgency, supra-ethnic mobilization, a long-term Indian militancy filtered by religious beliefs, messianic hopes of redemption, justice and freedom, and the affirmation of the Indians' saber (knowledge and wisdom). Lame and his followers saw their condition of subordination and oppression as the result of relations of domination rooted in to the sixteenth-century Conquest of the Americas and the “usurpation” of Indian land, which were prevalent in the modern nation and aggravated by the “betrayals of freedom.” The continuity of civilizing violences operates as the connecting cord between the colonial and modern eras, and as a referent of Lame's thought and visionary leadership, patterns of insurgency and militancy, strategies of resistance, memory revitalization and ritualized forms of land repossession. The dissertation is focused on the way in which Lame and his followers made sense of their struggle, crafted their demands, and responded to and subverted broader hegemonic narratives in the face of complex relations of power, wounded attachments and economic exploitation. It documents fragmented and silenced voices that were forced to inhabit the language of the conqueror, were inscribed into specific forms of subjection, constructed as criminal, deviant, or lacking political and historical agency. The narrative is organized around the symbolic dialogue between the local actors' voices and Bartolomé de Las Casas's critique of the Conquest and ideals of justice, Simón Bolívar's reflections on freedom, and twentieth-century state agents, politicians, and intellectuals' views of whiteness as civilization and racial and social perfectibility.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Espinosa Arango, Monica, "Of visions and sorrows: Manuel Quintín Lame's Indian thought and the violences of Colombia" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152691.