CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 25:2
But what is Pachamama and what happened that allowed such an entity a presencein the constitution?Clearlyannoyed,RafaelCorrea,presidentofEcuadorandattimesantineolib-eral, blamed an “infantile” coalition of environmentalists, leftists, and indigenistsfortheintrusionofPachamama–NatureintheConstitution.Wrappinguphisaccu-sation, he added that the coalition was the worst danger for the Ecuadoran politicalprocess (Ospina 2008).
The reaction is not unusual among politicians like Correa:modern, urban, and self-identiﬁed as nonindigenous, they dismiss the excess asresidual (or infantile in this case) and hope that it will gradually disappear. But, asCholango insists, what he calls their “beliefs and symbols” have not disappeared in500 years. Summoning those strange actors may indeed be a political strategy tointerpellate indigenous subjectivities. But can the strategy itself have an ontologicalexplanation of its own? Can we think about these presences as political actors—oras an issue in politics, at the very least—instead of brushing them away as exces-sive, residual or infantile? How do we do that? These questions seem unusual; theydisrupt conceptual comfort zones. They arise from the conceptual challenge posed by the equally unusual presences, not of indigenous politicians, but of the entities(which I call “earth-beings”) they conjure to the political sphere.The appearance of earth-beings in social protests may evince a moment of rupture of modern politics and an emergent indigeneity.
I do not mean a newmode of being indigenous. I mean an insurgence of indigenous forces and practiceswith the capacity to signiﬁcantly disrupt prevalent political formations, and reshuf-ﬂe hegemonic antagonisms, ﬁrst and foremost by rendering illegitimate (and, thus,denaturalizing)theexclusionofindigenouspracticesfromnation-stateinstitutions.Although it can be reabsorbed into a new political hegemony, the current momentrepresents a unique historical conjuncture. Emerging through a deep, expansive,andsimultaneouscrisisofcolonialismandneoliberalism(Blaser2007)—convergingin its ecological, economic, and political fronts—the public presence of unusualactors in politics is at least thought provoking. It may represent an epistemic oc-casion to “slow down reasoning”—as in Stengers’s quote above—and, rather thanasserting, adopt an intellectual attitude that proposes and thus creates possibilitiesfor new interpretations. Taking my cue from Stengers, I intend this ethnographi-cally inspired essay as an invitation to take seriously (perhaps literally) the presencein politics of those actors, which, being other than human, the dominant disci-plines assigned either to the sphere of nature (where they were to be known by science) or to the metaphysical and symbolic ﬁelds of knowledge (Williams1977:125).