This article examines how narratives of historical rupture and crisis maintain, rather than upset, dominant racial hierarchies. An analysis of elite narrations of Ecuador’s border conflicts with Peru and Colombia between 1941 and 2008 demonstrates how such crisis narratives functioned as ongoing strategies for reinforcing indigenous peoples’ alterity within the Ecuadorian nation. Specifically, white-mestizo elites discursively framed these crises as historical breaks that necessitated new visions of the country’s future. Rather than bring histories of racial inequality to the fore, such crisis narratives obscured them and sought to prevent meaningful considerations of enduring colonial politics in Ecuador.

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