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Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced

Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced: Indigenous Politics and the Struggle over Land

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  • Book Info
    Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced
    Book Description:

    The election of Evo Morales as Bolivia's president in 2005 made him the first indigenous head of state in the Americas, a watershed victory for social activists and Native peoples.El Movimiento Sin Tierra(MST), or the Landless Peasant Movement, played a significant role in bringing Morales to power. Following in the tradition of the well-known Brazilian Landless movement, Bolivia's MST activists seized unproductive land and built farming collectives as a means of resistance to large-scale export-oriented agriculture. InMobilizing Bolivia's Displaced, Nicole Fabricant illustrates how landless peasants politicized indigeneity to shape grassroots land politics, reform the state, and secure human and cultural rights for Native peoples.Fabricant takes readers into the personal spaces of home and work, on long bus rides, and into meetings and newly built MST settlements to show how, in response to displacement, Indigenous identity is becoming ever more dynamic and adaptive. In addition to advancing this rich definition of indigeneity, she explores the ways in which Morales has found himself at odds with Indigenous activists and, in so doing, shows that Indigenous people have a far more complex relationship to Morales than is generally understood.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0145-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION Indigeneity, Resources, and the Limitations of a Social Movement State
    (pp. 1-14)

    The election of Evo Morales and his political party mas (Movimiento al Socialismo) to the presidency of Bolivia in 2005 represented a watershed victory for social movements and indigenous peoples worldwide. Morales, a coca farmer and peasant union leader, did not come out of one of the “ethnic” movements but rather emerged from a new social movement called the “Cocaleros,” or coca growers.¹ Along with other resource-based movements, the Cocaleros mobilized the idea of “indigeneity” as a political tool to use against U.S. policies that militarily supported the eradication of coca. In their struggle to hold onto their lands and...

  6. PART I History of Resource Struggles in Bolivia

    • CHAPTER ONE SEDIMENTS OF HISTORY Resources, Rights, and Indigenous Politics
      (pp. 17-44)

      I first met Silvestre Saisari, one of the original members and founders of mst–Santa Cruz, in the Centro de Estudios Jurídicos e Investigación Social, or Center for Legal and Social Science Research (cejis), offices in February 2006. He was a short, stocky man in his thirties with an uneven beard and a Chicago Cubs hat perched backwards on his long, black hair. At first, he stared at me suspiciously, interrogating me with his eyes. Then, after studying me, he asked what I was doing in Bolivia and why I was studying the movement.

      Four months later, Saisari invited me...

    • CHAPTER TWO THE MAKING OF A MOVEMENT IN SANTA CRUZ Uneven Regional Agrarian Development in Obispo Santiesteban and Ichilo
      (pp. 45-76)

      In order to travel to the Yuquises hacienda, the site of a well-known occupation in the region of Santa Cruz, which received international recognition and now represents an officially titled mst collective called Pueblos Unidos (United Peoples), one must catch a bus early in the morning in the third anillo. The bus stop is diagonally across from the Hypermaxi, a rather large American-style supermarket, which flashes orange fluorescent lights in the wee hours of the morning onto the Avenida Banzer. The bus drivers line their micros up in single-file fashion, waiting for the seats to fill in order to embark...

  7. PART II Manufacturing Identity and Territorializing Rights

    • CHAPTER THREE AYLLU DEMOCRACY Indigenous Law and Collective Governance as Territorial Protection
      (pp. 79-103)

      The Yuquises occupation, which is now the community of Pueblos Unidos, is located about fifty kilometers north of a small migrant town called San Pedro, in the fifth section of the department of Santa Cruz. With about 14,644 inhabitants, mostly Andean migrants, San Pedro is one of the most productive zones of Santa Cruz and Bolivia for soya.¹ It looks like any other small rural pueblo in the north, dotted with makeshift huts with thatched roofs of motacu branches, small shops and bodegas, and roosters and hens roaming the streets. Kids run through the plazas, barefoot, streaked with mud and...

    • CHAPTER FOUR AGRARIAN CITIZENSHIP Alternative Models of Production and Food Sovereignty
      (pp. 104-130)

      The mst organizers had secured a run-down brick building, possibly a school gymnasium or auditorium deep in the backwoods of San Pedro, for the event. Hundreds of campesinos were already gathered to hear about the alternative agroecological model mst–Obispo Santiesteban would promote in their new settlement, Pueblos Unidos.¹ Hot and sweaty bodies crowded onto several rows of broken wooden benches facing a small stage, where half a dozen mst leaders sat, looking down at the rank-and-file members. Many of the leaders had a ball of coca perfectly balanced inside one cheek, occasionally moving it from side to side in...

  8. PART III Symbolic Citizenship and New Forms of Statehood

    • CHAPTER FIVE MOBILE "INDIGENOUS" CITIZENSHIP Marching for a New Agrarian Reform Law
      (pp. 133-157)

      We finally made it to the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba in the late afternoon hours, after fourteen days of marching from the lowland region of Santa Cruz to the upper valleys. The long line of protestors stopped for a short rest in the evening and began the journey again in the early morning hours from Sacaba into the Plaza 14 de Septiembre at the center of Cochabamba. While it was a short walk, it felt like an eternity; the hot sun beat down on our exposed necks, dried sweat and dirt stuck to our skin even in the...

    • CHAPTER SIX A SOCIAL MOVEMENT STATE Indigeneity in Morales’s Bolivia and a Compromised Constitution
      (pp. 158-182)

      The Ceja in El Alto is a bustling urban sector characterized by the rapid movement of people from the high mountains to the basin of La Paz. Many of the pedestrians are searching for microbuses, which line up one behind another, heading down to La Paz, the basin of the mountain. Most of the women, who have migrated from rural Andean communities to this urban, peripheral city, wear layered pollera skirts and bowler hats. The men dress in a range of hand-me-down or secondhand clothing, including warm winter coats and boots. The Ceja is usually congested; people shove one another...

  9. CONCLUSION Revisiting Indigeneity in Resource Politics and the Battles That Lie Ahead
    (pp. 183-202)

    This book has examined how landless and dispossessed peoples have redefined our understanding of citizenship in the twenty-first century through their elastic redefinition of Andean indigenous cultural forms, which in turn have come to restructure socioeconomic relations and forms of governance. Significantly the language of indigeneity has also greatly informed the creation and building of a new plurinational state, where native peoples have been critical to remapping a national agenda.

    Historically, indigenous peoples have been on the margins of the state. This point is most vividly illustrated by indigenous people’s being denied the right to vote or participate in national...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 203-222)
    (pp. 223-238)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 239-257)