We Need to Philosophize from an Indigenous Framework
In Mexico, one of the main tasks for philosophers today is to deal with the country’s social reality, which in many ways finds itself in crisis. Mexican philosophy, therefore, unlike others, is situated within the socio-political context – which both conditions and facilitates the task.
The philosophy of indigenous communities in Mexico, however, has not been recognized, and has even been rejected, much like their ways of life and their right to autonomy. Below, we will discuss why their philosophies have been ignored or dismissed, and why this must change.
The recuperation of indigenous culture concerns us all, not just philosophers. In taking an interest, we discover numerous examples of inspirational resistance, such as: the defense of water in Sonora by the Yaqui tribe; the exploitation of the Wixárika territory in San Luis Potosí by Canadian mining companies; and the self defense of communities on the coast of Guerrero, where Community Police Forces have stepped up in the absence of a competent or interested State. And finally, we have the example of Zapatista communities in Chiapas which have defended their land since the agrarian crisis of 1974 and continue to build autonomous forms of societal organization. But one recurring factor in all these campaigns is the discrimination of the government, landowners, and businessmen towards such indigenous peasant organizations.
In each case, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of these groups as philosopher Enrique Dussel considered , and regarding the philosophical basis behind such forms of organization. In many cases, mestizos have learned about other cultures, but they have also looked down on them, having adopted a “Western” way of thinking. As a result, the idea of embracing and rescuing indigenous culture can be quite unsettling for them.
By encouraging the recognition of the diversity within the Mesoamerican cultures present in Mexico, we do not necessarily mean that everything “Western” should be overlooked or forgotten. However, we do need to start off with the correct conceptual framework. For example, we first need to accept the existence of a unique indigenous culture and challenge all doubts about the human condition of indigenous people. In México Profundo ‘Deep Mexico’, Bonfil Batalla helps us to develop this framework by deciphering what is presented to us as ‘reality’.
The attack on indigenous culture began with the Spanish Conquest, so we first need to look at how colonization distanced the colonizers from the colonized. We also need to consider how the continued domination and centralization of knowledge by Western philosophy in society has ensured that this ‘distance’, to a certain extent, persists today. From the very start, for example, Western ideologues claimed that indigenous inferiority was natural, and this idea soon turned into real social inferiority.
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