Working Paper 49

The Challenge to Diversity in Mexico: human rights, gender and ethnicity

Maria Teresa Sierra

Project Group Legal Pluralism

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 49

In Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America a new debate has risen in the past 20 years over the recognition of constitutional rights for indigenous peoples. This has opened a discussion on how to build a multicultural society where difference should be a fundamental aspect of national politics to fight against exclusion and subordination. This article deals with two central issues of relevance to this debate: the question of human rights and cultural diversity and the challenge of indigenous women's demands. Both questions reveal structural similarities regarding the confrontation of homogeneous and hegemonic cultural models and the necessity to develop a critical perspective on social phenomena, especially with regard to such concepts as heterogeneity, power and social change. Based upon an experience of collaborative formulation of legal reforms with indigenous and human rights organizations in Puebla, Mexico, I show the tensions between a critical anthropological discourse and essentialist positions prevalent among some indigenous representatives and intellectuals. The aim of the text is to discuss the scope and limits of the Mexican debate on identity politics for building an "other world where all worlds can be included", as the Zapatista Indians promote.

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