Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas

Indigenous artists frequently voice concerns over the commodification of their cultures, a process acutely felt by those living with the consequences of colonialism. This timely book, which features colour illustrations throughout, examines the ways in which contemporary indigenous peoples in different parts of the Americas have harnessed performance practices to resist imposed stereotypes and shape their own complex identities. Essays by leading academics and practitioners show the vibrancy of a wide array of indigenous arts and cultural events in the USA, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Canada, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Belize. As well as analysing performance idioms, the authors trace the circulation of creative products and practices as commodities, as cultural capital and/or as heritage. Making reference to aesthetic forms, intellectual property and political empowerment, these essays weigh the impact of music, festivities, film, photography, theatre and museum installations among diverse audiences and discuss ways in which spectacles of cultural difference are remodelled in the hands of indigenous practitioners.

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This is an open source publication. Follow the links below to download each chapter. 

Title Page and Contents i

List of Figures v

Acknowledgements vii

Notes on Contributors ix

Introduction: Recasting commodity and spectacle in the indigenous Americas 

Helen Gilbert and Charlotte Gleghorn

1. ‘Will making movies do the sheep any good?’ The afterlife of Native American images

Michelle H. Raheja

2. Modernity and the indigenous in centennial celebrations of independence in Mexico City, 1910 and 1921

Michael J. Gonzales

3. Indigeneity in the Oruro Carnival: official memory, Bolivian identity and the politics of recognition 

Ximena Córdova Oviedo

4. Crafting contemporary indigeneity through audiovisual media in Bolivia 

Gabriela Zamorano Villarreal

5. Nora Naranjo-Morse’s ‘Always Becoming’: enacting indigenous identity on a museum stage 

Andrea Zittlau

6. Performance, gestures and poses in postcards of Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin Dells

Sarah Anne Stolte

7. Rethinking spectacle and indigenous consumption: commercial huayno music in Peru

James Butterworth

8. Everyday work as spectacle: celebrating Maya embodied culture in Belize

Genner Llanes-Ortiz

9. Spectacle and discourse of decommoditisation in the construction of subaltern public spheres: the P’urhépecha New Year and P’urhéecherio 

Andrew Roth-Seneff

10. Performing and disputing indigeneity in the Fiesta del Coraza in Otavalo, Ecuador 

Sergio Miguel Huarcaya

11. Indigeneity, law and performance on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua

Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez

12. What we talk about when we talk about Indian

Yvette Nolan

13. Indigenous interventions at Klahowya Village, χwayχwəy Vancouver/ unceded Coast Salish Territory

Selena Couture


The Editors

Helen Gilbert is Professor of Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her primary research interest lies in the theatre and performance of marginalised cultures.

Charlotte Gleghorn is Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests lie in the field of Latin American film studies, with a particular emphasis on the political work of cinema and its relationship to processes of memory.