The fact that it was not until 2001 that a question of race was re-introduced in a census provides an idea of how dominant narratives of whiteness have been in the definition of discourses of national identity in Argentina throughout the 20th Century. [4]

Since the 1980s indigenous organisations in Argentina have been struggling in order to achieve recognition and rights, as part of the rise of identity politics and indigenous activism on a transnational level. In 1985 the National Institute for Indigenous Affairs, INAI, was created. Additionally, in 1992 Argentina adopted the Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation that requires that indigenous and tribal peoples are consulted and give their consent on issues that affect them (this was ratified in 2000 and came into force in 2001). The reform of the National Constitution in 1994 recognized the ethnic and cultural pre-existence of the indigenous peoples in Argentina and guaranteed the right to legal personality for their communities and the community possession and property of the lands they traditionally occupy. Argentina also voted in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when it was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007.

However, despite all these progressive measures, in practice the majority of indigenous communities have not received legal recognition of their lands and live in conditions of extreme poverty. Due to the advance of mining and farming industries, a high number of indigenous communities have been evicted from places they traditionally inhabited. A large number of these evictions have resulted from orders issued by provincial and national courts that accuse members of indigenous groups of seizing private property, which shows the complicity of the state in transnational capital’s advance over indigenous land.

In this context, in which the visibility of indigenous communities is experiencing significant transformations, traditional representations of these groups are also being subject to contestation and resignification. The analysis of Gaby Herbstein’s portrayal of Amerindian groups in Huellas allows reflecting critically on the relationships between racism and representational politics in contemporary Argentina vis-à-vis the increasing presence of indigenous people and the challenges this posits to the narratives of Argentina’s racial homogeneity postulated by the white dominant culture. Since the calendar was produced by a successful fashion photographer for upper-middle and upper class audiences of white/European background, it can be examined as an exercise of self-reflexivity from that very dominant culture.

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