Epistemological blindness or violence

liberal multiculturalism and the Indigenous quest for autonomy

Alejandra Gaitán-Barrera*, Govand Khalid Azeez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


From 1960s onwards, liberal multiculturalism - from Iris M. Young's notion of a 'differentiated citizenship' or what Rodolfo Stavenhagen terms 'internal self-determination' to Will Kymlicka's multicultural citizenship and federacy arrangements, Arendt Lijphart's consociationalism and Rainer Bauböck's pluralist federation - has played a fundamental role in the recognition of difference as well as questioning the configuration of the nation-state as racially homogenous and administratively unified. So far, these liberal approaches have successfully addressed and accommodated some of the core political and cultural demands of religious and ethnic minorities. Yet, drawing on field research conducted in Chile and Nicaragua as well as a critical examination of this liberal canon on multiculturalism, this paper theorises that in the case of indigenous quests for autonomy, these approaches exude nothing but epistemological blindness, ignoring or dismissing alterity. At worst, they function as an epistemic violence that silences, incorporates and decontests synchronic alternative autonomist indigenous articulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015


  • Indigeneity
  • Indigenous Autonomy
  • Latin America
  • Liberal Multiculturalism
  • Liberal Theory
  • Liberalism
  • Self-determination

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