Indigenous-Hybrid Organisations in Colombia: A Multi-Level Analysis within the Buen Vivir Model

Morales, Andrés (2019). Indigenous-Hybrid Organisations in Colombia: A Multi-Level Analysis within the Buen Vivir Model. PhD thesis The Open University.



There has been a recent increase in the number of publications about the indigenous philosophy of Buen Vivir (BV) as an alternative paradigm to mainstream development theory. However, there is a dearth of theoretically grounded empirical research that interrogates the impact of BV as an alternative development model within the social and solidarity economy (SSE) in Latin America. Therefore, this thesis aims to address this research gap by investigating the development of indigenous community based organisations (ICOs) that are located within the SSE in Colombia, examining to what extent their experiences embody key tenets of the BV model. By drawing upon insights from post-development (BV) and postcolonial theories (Bhabha’s mimicry and hybridity), this thesis develops and critically explores a multi-level model for understanding the development of ICOs in Colombia, considering the micro, meso and macro levels.

Using participatory video research, this research draws upon evidence from a multiple case study research with five indigenous communities (Curripaco, Puinave, Yanacona, Misak and Wayuu) in three geographic regions (the Amazons, Cauca and Guajira). The thesis uses the following types of data collection: secondary data sources, video focus groups, video semi-structured interviews, observations and field notes. The analysis of the multiple case study using Nvivo, discovers that ICOs operate as hybrid organisations that are influenced by their indigenous cultural practices, as well as the dominant Western forms legitimised by the SSE norms (mimicry). Overall, this thesis reveals that the ICOs’ experiences are consistent with the values and pillars that embody the key tenets of the BV model. The findings demonstrate that the current policy discourse provides little scope for engagement for ICOs in Colombia, even though evidence shows their contribution to the national economy. In doing so, this thesis offers an opportunity for policy makers to rethink and re-evaluate the existing policies in relation to indigenous communities and the SSE sector, to provide a pathway consistent with some elements of the BV model to contribute to the national development plan.

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