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Interculturalidad from below : an Indigenous movement's encounter with Peruvian intercultural education policy Sarmiento, Paola


This study examines the discursive encounter about the notion of Interculturalidad between the Chirapaq Indigenous organization of Peru and the official Peruvian intercultural education policy. Taking a multi-perspective approach, it addresses how an Indigenous organization discursively (re)constructs the notion of Interculturalidad and how this (re)construction challenges and resists the Peruvian government’s dominant construction reflected in an official policy. The study draws on a hybrid decolonial theoretical framework, which is informed by decolonial theory, conceptualizations of Interculturalidad, and the principle of interrelatedness of Indigenous knowledges. In terms of methodology, the study utilizes a dual Foucauldian-inspired critical discourse analysis approaches. This dual discourse analysis is applied to the Indigenous organization’s written and spoken texts on intercultural education and the text-based official policy document. The findings demonstrate that the Peruvian intercultural education policy is principally dominated by an instrumental conception of cultural diversity, one which does not address the root causes of racism, marginalization, exclusion, and social asymmetries in Peru. Furthermore, the study found that the policy language fails to recognize the holistic nature of Indigenous knowledge systems. On the other hand, the Indigenous organization’s intercultural discourse was found to be intrinsically related to the problem of the colonial power structures that have subordinated all dimension of Indigenous peoples’ lives, while its (re)conceptualization of Interculturalidad constitutes an opportunity to centre Indigenous views on knowledge, language, and territory. The gulf between these divergent intercultural discourses speaks to the different frameworks in which each is grounded and their different conceptions of education for Indigenous students in the Peruvian context. Taking this Indigenous organization’s conceptions and the study’s findings into account, recommendations are made for improving the Peruvian intercultural education policy. Some of these recommendations are to affirm the inseparability of Indigenous knowledge, language, and territory within the intercultural education policy, and to ground it in a decolonial framework.

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