‘In 2015, we are all indigenous’: Indigenism and the World Games of Indigenous Peoples (Palmas, Brazil, October 2015)


‘In 2015 we are all indigenous’: this is the motto of the World Games of Indigenous Peoples to be organised for the first time in October 2015, in Palmas (Brazil). The purpose of the proposed research is to explore this event as a site highlighting the complex relationship between Brazilian society, Brazilian authorities and indigenous peoples – a relationship to be addressed using Alcida Ramos’ concept of Indigenism modeled on Orientalism. The research will be based on fieldwork during the event, using participant observation and interviewing, and supplemented by document analysis. Furthermore, conventional and social media will be monitored to gain a sense of the various narratives brought forth by indigenous and non-indigenous participants as well as other social and political actors. The event will be further contextualized through looking at other indigenous sporting events. The proposed research is part of a larger endeavour devoted to the significance of indigenous migration to Brazilian cities, especially with regard to the complexities of ‘Indian identity’ in a non-traditional setting. It involves the close collaboration of two principal investigators, one an anthropologist at IHEID in Geneva who has specialised in the study of indigenous rights both internationally and in the Americas, the other an urban sociologist at PUC-Rio whose work has focused on a narrative-based approach to urban marginality. The proposed research provides for several collective endeavours to further the project and disseminate its results, including a workshop in Geneva, participation in two international conferences, and publications in English, French and Portuguese.

Prof. Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff

Prof. Maria Sarah Da Silva Telles