Identifying Indigenous people visual appearance, filiation, and the experience of race in an “I...

Jérémie VOIROL

While Indigenous/mestizo distinction in Latin Americanist anthropology has been mainly thought of as a cultural and/or socioeconomic demarcation, I argue that a conceptualization in terms of race offers some valuable insights. Starting from a soccer championship in the Otavalo region of Ecuador, I show how otavaleño Indigenous people's historical and current experiences of racialization have shaped the criteria that they consider relevant to identification practices, and I illustrate how they build on these to act to some advantage. Building on the assemblage of what I call phenotypization—an extended notion of phenotype—and genealogy, otavaleños create spaces of identification control, striving to maintain the Indigenous/mestizo divide and a sense of belonging upon which they rely for economic activities. Favoring the notion of race, this study lays the groundwork for a Latin Americanist anthropology that considers Indigenous people as part of the same subaltern category as Afro-descendants.