Maria Esteban Palma


I am interested in how people appropriate and use theirancestral legacies, including worldviews and material culture, as a means togain self-understanding, community reinforcement and legal-political mobilization.My current research seeks to understand the impact that a century-old nationalistideology of racial uniformity, uncontrolled poverty and a recent legislative shiftfavouring diversity have in the (re)emergence of indigenous groups in centralColombia. I am exploring the political agendas and other motivations that two groupsof neighbors have had in order to become “indigenous”, and how their pressuresto be and feel different enough from the urban majorities have transformedtheir daily lives, worldviews and sociolegal positioning.

Research Interests

Cultural heritage preservation, material culture and semiotics, collaborative archaeologies, cultural authenticity, identity: self and groupness, the anthropology of ritual, the politics of recognition, the anthropology of power, cultural performance, indigenous peoples, Americas.

Graduation Year



Dissertation Title

Branding the Muisca-Self: Indigenous Sincerity Amidst Colombian Multicultural Coloniality

Graduate Status