Joanne Rappaport
Juan Gregorio Palechor: The Story of My Life is the product of a collabora-
tive dialogue between Juan Gregorio Palechor, a native Yanacona from
southern Cauca and a founder of the Regional Indigenous Council of
Cauca (CriC), Colombia’s oldest and most influential indigenous orga-
nization, and Myriam Jimeno, a distinguished member of the anthro-
pology faculty at the National University of Colombia and a longtime
activist in solidarity with the Colombian indigenous movement. In its
Spanish original, this volume was copublished by a series of academic
presses and CriC, a decision that underlines Jimeno’s commitment to
the usefulness of research in indigenous organizing and to what in the
United States we now call “public anthropology” or “engaged anthro-
pology,” but which Jimeno envisions with somewhat more urgency as
an ethnography that is simultaneously an exercise in citizenship.1
Juan Gregorio Palechor’s life history was published in 2006, just after
Lorenzo Muelas Hurtado, a Guambiano leader and member of the Con-
stituent Assembly that wrote Colombia’s 1991 constitution, wrote his
own autobiography in collaboration with archaeologist Martha Urda-
neta Franco—it began as a narrated life history but ultimately incor-
porated Muelas’s own research into his oral history of his sharecrop-
per antecedents.2 Juan Gregorio Palechor was followed four years later by
another indigenous autobiography, this time by Trino Morales (with
the assistance of French sociologist Christian Gros), Guambiano, and
cofounder of CriC and member of the international Barbados Group
comprised of Native leaders and Latin American public intellectuals
who advocated for indigenous sovereignty in the 1970s.3 As a whole,
this corpus opens a new window into the nature of the indigenous
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