The discursive construction of the otherness of the "Indian" in Ciudad Guayana

Abstract

Since 2002, something unusual has been happening at the traffic lights in Puerto Ordaz: young Warao children and Warao women - whether older women or those cradling babies in their arms - are begging money from drivers. These "non-places" (Augé, 1993), are the social scene where "Indians" are being constructed in a negative image they have never had before. The main goal of this study is to look into urban "common sense" to identify and interpret what it says about Warao Indians. Among our theoretical principles are the following: a), territory, place and city are not realities independent of the perceiver, but cultural constructions; b) common sense is both a trans-discursive dimension and and a process-product of social hermeneutics, which allows people to elaborate "truths" that make sense of reality; c) territory and places are cultural, historical-political constructions, which allow people to construct social identifications; d) subjective and trans-subjective identity is a complex, contradictory discursive process-product construction of Otherness and Ourness. Our methodological approach is exploratory-descriptive and interpretative, through a triangulation among focus-groups, interviews and non-participant observation. The basic technique used was discourse analysis, applied to three discourse categories: "living discourse" (from members of the public), "official discourse" (from local government) and "public discourse" (in local newspapers)

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This paper was published in Directory of Open Access Journals.

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