Accounting for Change in Diverse Societies

Multiculturalism in Colombia:
Twenty-Five Years of Experience

Publication Date: January 2018

Virginie Laurent

Virginie Laurent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Los Andes. Her work is primarily focused on the political dynamics of social movements, particularly among indigenous groups in Latin America. She is currently completing a study entitled “Indigenous Policy: Twenty Years of Multiculturalism in Colombia,” and is an associate at the Institute for Research and Debate on Governance in Paris, France.

Colombia’s constitutional reform process is an important example of a changed conversation about diversity. Indigenous peoples were actively involved in the drafting of the 1991 Constitution, which led to a new level of visibility, legitimacy, and empowerment for these groups. At this critical moment, why did Colombia seek to forge a more pluralistic national identity? What actors, both inside and outside government, championed this change? Lastly, what were the limits of the constitutional reform process and its effects on indigenous lives, their treatment in public institutions, and inter-ethnic relations within civil society?

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