Doctoral Dissertation Research: Hasemann: Evaluating what Factors Contribute to Effectiveness in Heritage Commercialization

Grants and Contracts Details


Overview Across Latin America ‘development with identity’ schemes are currently widely promoted by multilateral and aid organizations. These are schemes based on cultural industries and heritage commercialization that increasingly focus on impoverished ethnic minorities. As part of this trend, the Honduran state’s discourse on cultural diversity reinforces the ‘heritage-making’ (patrimonialización) of cultural minorities and their livelihoods--particularly indigenous women, under the auspices of multiculturalism. However, the on-the-ground reality for Lenca communities--the largest ethnic minority in Honduras--remains with some of the highest indices of poverty and vulnerability in the country. Hence, the conditions under which ‘development with identity’ benefits local communities, and indigenous women’s response to such state-sponsored engagement, remain unclear. This research will ethnographically examine the semantic spaces simultaneously created by Honduran public policy, heritage commercialization, and the development industry, through which intercultural engagements take place with the indigenous feminine ‘other’, and the consequent welfare outcomes and effects on the identity discourses and political subjectivities put forth by Lenca women.Through participant observation, interviews, household surveys and life histories, the researcher will collect data to examine the implications of states’ recognition of indigenous women as rights-bearing subjects, as development beneficiaries and as heritage entrepreneurs, exemplified by the Honduran state’s public policies on culture and heritage and its ‘development with identity’ agenda. Further, this research will identify the factors that contribute to indigenous women’s negotiation and control over the terms of their recognition, participation and representations within the Honduran state’s ‘development with identity’ agenda and the cultural industries market. And will determine if and how Lenca women’s participation in such development initiatives have resulted in improved economic welfare and social empowerment for them and their communities. Broader Significance ‘Development with Identity’ and the ‘heritage-making’ of culture can be charted in multiple states' frameworks, pointing to the shared experiences of minority and marginalized communities facing global cultural identity politics. The political and economic agendas of contemporary national governments and transnational organizations influence the degree of attention paid to indigenous peoples, their livelihoods and their development. The Honduran context makes clear that ‘heritage-making’ and its commercialization are important driving forces in local development complexes and sometimes the only means of survival for rural poor communities. Honduras presents a particular postcolonial landscape apt for analysis given the recently proposed “Ley Especial para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas y Afrodescendientes de Honduras”, the “Agenda Política de las Mujeres Indígenas y Afro-Hondureñas”. Further, this research acquires greater relevance in the midst of escalated repression of Lenca protests against state-sponsored development, leading to the deaths of Lenca activists, among them Berta Cáceres. Intellectual Merit This research broadens the theoretical understandings of indigenous identity and subjectivity in the politics and economics of culture; provides visibility to the gendered construction of development policy, cultural commodities, and multicultural nationalism and citizenship; and demonstrates the importance of ‘heritage-making’ and heritage commercialization within larger contexts in their connections to nation-state governance and transnational capitalism. This research contributes to the Coloniality/Decoloniality project, by addressing the racialized and gendered coloniality of power inherent in contemporary development paradigms . This research also expands on feminist political-economy analyses of cultural commodity and value chains as part of development, and of subject position and inequality. This research also contributes to the critical examination of indigenous women across Latin American states’ diverse public policy and development frameworks to understand “the neoliberal management of the social… [to] constitute categories of racialized feminine subalterns and highlight the political field within which [this subaltern]…disputes the construction of social subjectivities and of citizen agency” (Radcliffe 2015: 15).
Effective start/end date2/1/181/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $23,124.00


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