Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
Generational Modernities: Gender and the Politics of Evangelical Indigenous Religiosity in Chimborazo, Ecuador

I propose an ethnographic study of the shifting politics and contemporary re-imaginings of evangelical Christian identity in highlands Ecuador. My research will focus on second-generation evangelicals in the province of Chimborazo. The subjects of my research were raised in "Christian households" shaped by the strict moral ethic of fundamentalist Christianity, a religion to which their parents converted en masse in the 1960s. North American missionaries promised their families a new, modern life of prosperity predicated on the rejection of "sinful" cultural traditions and the adoption of normative Christian gender roles. Over the past decade, however, members of this generational cohort have undertaken what I dub an "indigenous challenge" from within evangelical Christianity-recuperating elements of indigenous culture, reconfiguring gender relations in indigenous and/or "feminist" terms, and intensifying participation in "worldly" political activities-while remaining deeply invested in collective evangelical subjectivity (Andrade 2005; Lucero 2006). In the contemporary post-conversion context, men and women of this generation-now in their 30s and 40s, married, and actively rearing the next generation-question the triumphant, linear march of progress that conversion once signified, imagining instead an alternative indigenous modernity that both contests and relies upon the Christian modernity to which their parents converted a generation earlier. Through twelve months of ethnographic field research in the rural community of Calta Monja Baja and the provincial capital of Riobamba, I will examine the gendered narratives and practices of the second generation and the simultaneous processes of change and reproduction they uncover in the context of familial and intergenerational interactions. This project will further understanding of a key moment of seer-cultural change and indigenous modernity in the Ecuadorian Andes.