Narrating place and identity, or mapping Miskitu land claims in northeastern Nicaragua

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50 Scopus citations


This paper draws from my participation in mapping Miskitu community land claims in the spring of 1997 to discuss the relationship between the mapping process and an identity politics of place in northeastern Nicaragua (the Moskitia). In community fora that formed the critical element of the mapping process, Miskitu community intellectuals passionately narrated Miskitu history with recourse to Moskitia geography and the places to be mapped. These public narratives resonated with and mobilized community audiences because they combined authoritative Miskitu identity signifiers, such as the Miskitu flag and biblical lessons, with commonplace toponyms and cultural landscapes. In narrating the relationship of Miskitu identity to Moskitia places, community intellectuals simultaneously critiqued the conventional wisdom of Nicaraguan historiography and transformed the initial aim of the mapping project by shaping the meaning of "community lands" for community members. In this way, the mapping project merged a cultural politics of place with those of identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-392
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Identity
  • Mapping
  • Miskitu Indians
  • Nicaragua
  • Place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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