Hybridity, Mestizaje, and Montubios in Ecuador

Date: Mar, 2008
ODID Working Paper No. 165
Author(s): Karem Roitman (QEH)

The 'Montubio' ethnic identity has recently gained notoriety in Ecuador. This paper analyses how this identity emerges from and falls within Ecuador's construction of 'mestizaje' or mixture as a tool for national integration. Given the exclusionary and limited nature of mestizaje in Ecuador, it is argued that as far as Montubios are uncritically constructed in relation to such mestizaje, they cannot serve as a progressive hybrid identity able to overcome essentialisms and existent ethnic structures. This paper starts by briefly reviewing how mestizaje has been constructed in Ecuador and then examines how the Montubio identity emerges from this mestizaje. It then explores different ways in which mestizaje may be conceptualized, and examines how these different models disguise or address power dynamics within heterogeneous populations. It concludes by briefly noting how 'translocational positionality' might provide a way to conceptualize the most progressive promises of mestizaje that Montubios might access.

ODID Author(s)