Abstract of the Dissertation project:
Trajectories across history, collective memory and strategy: the biographies of women from indigenous communities in Paraguay (Working Title)
The present research project considers the biographical trajectories of women from indigenous communities in Paraguay in the interplay with historical and social processes and the discourses built around them. The fact that 66 per cent of indigenous people live in poverty, or that adult indigenous women went to school for an average of three years in their entire lives (DGEEC 2018) exemplify the marginalized position where indigenous women find themselves in Paraguay. Besides, historical processes also affected indigenous communities and women in particular ways. Some of them refer to the emergence and transformation of large-estates, the influence of religious sects, large-scale projects and the long-lasting effects of a 35-years dictatorship.
Considering the above described context I ask, how are historical processes and the current social reality negotiated through biographical self-constructions of women from indigenous communities in Paraguay? Further on, I focus on women who are active politically in a very broad sense of engaging in action both individually and with their communities in order to improve their situation and strengthen their visibility. In this sense, I also ask: Which are the biographical and narrative strategies that emerge from each biographical context and political socialization? At the same time, I question the discourses present in mass media and public institutions that dominate the narration of historical processes and current reality that cross-cut indigenous women's biographies: what is the image built around them in national collective memory and mass media? How are these discourses present or denied in their biographies?
The aim of this research is to analyze how women from indigenous communities negotiate biographically that position in social reality and the discourses that narrate their past, present, and even their future. This research is therefore based on biographical narrative interviews with women from different locations in Paraguay, of different ages and with a diverse political socialization. Discourse analysis of press and public institutions are also part of the analysis in order to reconstruct the historical and social events relevant for each case, the discourses that circulate around them and that are part of the biographical self-presentations.