Historical Social Research

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Philipp Altmann: Studying Discourse Innovations: The Case of the Indigenous Movement in Ecuador [Abstract]

Discursive development is fluid and continuous, making it hard to determine the concrete moment of discursive change or innovation. The disruptive moment of the introduction, disappearance or reformulation of a central political concept can allow a closer definition of this moment of change, its context and its direction. The analysis of political concepts within a given discourse can contribute to the definition of discursive actors, specific texts that introduce the concept in question and its trajectory within a social movement or the society as such. This is exemplified in the indigenous movement in Ecuador. This movement underwent a considerable discursive change in the 1970s and 1980s, a renovation that still forms the basis for its central position in national politics today. With this discursive shift, the movement began to understand the indigenous peoples as nationalities with state-like structures that would allow self-determination and give them a right to autonomy. This innovation led to a radical discursive shift with demands for a plurinational and – subsequently – intercultural reorganization of society and state. The new discourse and the political concepts introduced by the movement not only gave it a position to speak from, but also changed the discourse of society and state in Ecuador.

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