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The experiencing of the Wayuu lucha in a context of uncertainty : Neoliberal multiculturalism, political subjectivities, and preocupación in La Guajira, Colombia


In their process of despertar (awakening), thousands of Wayuu indigenous people have expressed their preocupación (anxious worrying) and mobilized to defend their indigenous collective rights. Through these protests, the Wayuu condemn the profound negative effects that the multinational conglomerate Cerrejón - the world's largest open-pit coal mining company - and the Colombian state have brought to La Guajira, Colombia. In understanding indigenous political resistance, little attention has been given to the subjective and phenomenological processes by which experience, lived within certain social conditions, turn into active mobilization. Based on 9 weeks of collaborative ethnographic fieldwork (2012) and person- centered interviews with the Wayuu leaders in the lucha (struggle), I address this gap by analyzing the Wayuu's narratives of suffering, the experiencing of sentirse mal (feeling bad) and preocupación, and the Wayuu's engagement with a variety of mechanisms of resistance as a way to reproduce a lucha to protect what matters most to them, defend what is at stake in this struggle - wounmainkat (territory) and akwa'ipa(Wayuu way of being) - and heal their communities. In particular, I examine how different micro and macro processes and "critical events," such as the living through the deep disruptions of mining within a neoliberal multicultural nation-state, shape a particular indigenous political subjectivity that enables these experiences and forms of political engagement. Thus, I consider how the "suffering through rights" and the emergence of a neoliberal indigenous political subjectivity simultaneously and inextricably reproduce a sense of indigenous agency, moral lucha, and nation-state, while empowering and constraining the Wayuu lucha

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