How we lost ourselves. Nature of being and constructions of self in autochthonous Andean society under the imposition of Spanish colonialism in the Americas.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Autochthonous Amerindian cultures and societies remain largely ‘in bondage’ to the superposition of Old World cultures that first arrived with Cristóbal Colón, in 1492. With few exceptions, Amerindian identity and related cultural expressions remain marginalised and irrelevant to the dominant colonial ruling culture. To participate meaningfully in socio-political, academic or economic discourse, or achieve any realistic representation of their distinctive identities and lifeways, indigenous Amerindians must first become qualified in those same dominant imposed systems, where they still meet with significant prejudice and disadvantage. The continued domination of indigenous peoples by imposed western social, cultural, scientific, administrative and religious systems continues in the Americas, despite significant developments in the advocacy of groups representing alliances of indigenous people in recent years. A contrast is drawn between indigenous Andean and European ways of experiencing personhood/identity, the self as body and soul, understanding the cosmos and addressing the healing of illness. A recent survey of three indigenous communities in the northern Andes of Ecuador demonstrates that although until recently many ancestral beliefs and practices related to concepts of identity and specifically health and healing were still maintained 500 years since the imposition of Spanish colonialism, there is now a demonstrable loss of these beliefs reflective of autochthonous experience of identity and the understanding of reality. The implications of this for the future of indigenous people in this region is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfriScoN
Publication statusUnpublished - Dec 2018
EventAfriScoN. : Knowledge Loss, Bondage and Regrets in Post Contact Societies. - University of Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria
Duration: 9 Dec 201812 Dec 2018


Abbreviated titleAfriscoN


  • Andes, Ecuador, Indigenous, Identity

Cite this