9027 - Mestiz@s Costeñ@s between dominance and discrimination

Since the adoption of the multiethnical autonomos region at the Nicaraguan Atlantic coast, the ethnic group of Mestiz@s Costeñ@s are struggeling for acceptance and a legitimate place within the local Costeña society which consists of six ethnic groups. In my fieldresearch I analysed the position of Mestiz@s Costeñ@s in Bilwi, an indigenously dominated city in the northern autonomy region. Therefore I was focusing on the simultaneity of dominance and discrimination affecting the social life of this group through the multidimensional power structures present in this region. Mestiz@s Costeñ@s combine two antagonistic identities. First, la Identidad Mestiza, a product of mestizaje, a social construction negating all other kinds of ethnic identities. Second, la Identidad Costeña which refers to a long history of social exclusion and discrimination of Costeña society by the hegemonic mestizo population. Mestiz@s Costeñ@s ethnic and social identity is deeply affected by the interconnection with mestizo society but also from their experiences at the marginalized Atlantic coast. Thus sharing worldviews and –visions with the other local afro-caribbean and indigenous groups. This situation puts them in limbo within Costeña society. Alteration between acceptance and social exclusion by other ethnic communities in the region is commonplace. As a group, the Mestiz@s Costeñ@s benefit in some social and economic areas from their closeness to the State and the hegemonic population in Nicaragua. But this fact also provokes some disadvantages, mainly discrimination and the denial of autonomy rights. This situation leads to growing ethnic conflicts, especially due to the radicalization of some indigenous leaders and the feeling of „not being accepted“ by some Mesitz@s Costeñ@s. The dichotomy of powerful/powerless is not enough to identify the multilayered and contradictory role of the Mestiz@s Costeñ@s in the Costeña society. The aim of my research is to find a comprehensive approach with regard to the above mentioned issue.

Keywords: ethnic identity, ethnic conflicts, dominance, discrimination, Mestiz@s Costen@s

Author: Adler, Viktoria (Universität Klagenfurt, Austria / Österreich)


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