School of Humanities and Sciences


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  • Hector Miguel Callejas

    Hector Miguel Callejas

    Lecturer

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsINDIGENOUS CULTURAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT

    In 2014, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador ratified a constitutional reform establishing multicultural state recognition of Indigenous peoples as citizens of the Salvadoran nation. The reform mandated the state development of Indigenous cultural identity, with a focus on Indigenous peoples' worldview, values, and spirituality. This book examines the politics of Indigenous cultural identity development in the capital city of San Salvador and the neighboring municipalities of Izalco and Nahuizalco in the western highlands. State authorities, Indigenous organizations, and other actors produced particular formations of Indigenous identity and culture for various projects related to nation-building, human rights, and tourism. The projects localized national multicultural governance, foregrounded racial difference, and reinforced racialized class inequality within each municipal community.

    Following the 20th century state project of national mestizaje, ordinary Salvadorans trivialized racial difference and racialized class inequality in everyday life. The national Ministry of Culture, municipal governments, and Indigenous leaders hosted public commemorations of Indigenous peoples that translated the state's vision of national multiculturalism for local audiences. Ministry officials and Indigenous activists mobilized Indigenous cultural identity for a national Supreme Court case on Indigenous genocide and municipal ordinances on Indigenous rights. The case and ordinances attempted to broaden the scope of state recognition beyond Indigenous culture to address entrenched patterns of Indigenous dispossession and exclusion, although progress on both stalled. Municipal governments, Indigenous leaders, mayordomos (civic-religious leaders), and handicraft workers reinvented local traditions as Indigenous cultural heritage for tourism development. The emerging tourism economy maintained racialized class divisions between rich and poor residents of Izalco and Nahuizalco.

    Hector conducted multi-sited ethnography from January of 2019 to March of 2020, during the transition period in national politics between the outgoing FMLN and incoming Bukele administrations. He entered the political and social worlds of Indigenous cultural identity development through the Red Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas, "El Jaguar Sonriente," an influential network of Indigenous organizations coordinated by the Ministry of Culture. He accessed the network through the Consejo de Pueblos Originarios Náhuat Pipil de Nahuizalco, a grassroots Indigenous organization.

    ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ACTIVISM

    Hector has opened a new field site on environmental justice activism in the Sacramento Valley of California. This emerging field of public policy addresses the unequal distribution of environmental hazards along the lines of income, ethnicity, and race. He entered this field through his parents' participation as faith-based community leaders in the Sacramento Environmental Justice Coalition, a grassroots organization. Hector and his family have lived and worked in an "Environmental Justice community" as defined by Sacramento County's Office of Planning & Environmental Review.