Indigenous Autonomy, Leadership and Local Political Conflict in Highland Bolivia

Indigenous Autonomy, Leadership and Local Political Conflict in Highland Bolivia
5 December 2019, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Room 780, UCL Institute of Education, Bedford Way, Bloomsbury, WC1H 0AL

Matthew Doyle, University of Sussex

Among the Quechua-speaking highland indigenous communities of Bolivar province in the Cochabamba department of Bolivia there exist multiple overlapping forms of local political authority, including the municipal government, peasant union and the traditional authorities who claim to pre-date the Spanish conquest. Ironically, the national project of the governing 'Movement Towards Socialism' (MAS) party to re-found the Bolivian state so as to include the country's ‘indigenous majority’ has coincided with an intensification of conflict between them.

This talk will examine how legal and institutional changes that purport to further the decolonisation of Bolivian society through recognising indigenous forms of governance have served to further intra-community conflict among the inhabitants of this particular indigenous community. Specifically, one of the centrepieces of the incipient ‘plurinational state’ is the provision for indigenous peasant communities to become quasi-independent entities with their own forms of internal administration based on traditional customs. Yet the ambiguities of the conversion process and the ambivalence of the national government has meant that this has become the basis for conflict. This brings into sharp relief not only the differences between these forms of local authority but some of the central tensions within the MAS project of political reform.

All are welcome. Attendance is free. Booking is recommended

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Olga Jimenez
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