Current Institutional Affiliation
Chief, Faculty Affairs, Office of the VP for Academic Affairs, United States Air University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1999
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Syracuse University
Warriors, Peasants and La Patria: Ethnicity and Nationalism Among Ecuador's Indigenous Soldiers

This project will examine how ethnicity and nationalism are negotiated in contemporary Ecuador by contrasting the experiences of two groups of indigenous soldiers: Quichua speaking peasant conscripts of the Sierra and indigenous volunteers from the Amazonian region. Working with the permission of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense, I will conduct my studies on military bases and in indigenous soldiers' natal communities. One of the primary objectives of drafting highland Quichuas is to "modernize" their identities and behaviors. The intent is to make mestizos out of Indians and citizens out of conscripts. Amazonian natives, on the other hand, are consistently lauded as "good Indians", "great warriors" and loyal to la Patria (mother country). This contradiction complicates any simplistic paradigm of how ethnicity and nationalism are intertwined in Ecuador. I hypothesize that military service generates a dialectical process of identity construction for indigenous men whereby previously held visions of self and heritage are challenged, compounded and complicated rather than replaced in their entirety. My research will be guided by emergent theories of nationalism and cultural politics that stress contextualized, hybrid and multiple identities, rather than the dichotomous and essentialist "either ethnicity - or nationalism" framework exhorted by modernization theorists.