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Publication Detail
‘We are all originarios’: political conflict and identity in contemporary Bolivia
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Doyle M
  • Date awarded:
  • Awarding institution:
    University of Sussex
  • Language:
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in rural and urban areas of Bolivia, this thesis examines a local political conflict arising out of different understandings of identity and the ongoing processes of change taking place in the country. Within the Quechua-speaking highland indigenous community of Bolívar 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 predate the Spanish conquest. Ironically, the national project of the governing ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ (MAS) party of refounding the Bolivian state to include the country’s ‘indigenous majority’ has coincided with an intensification of conflict between them. While examining the substantive content of their disagreements, this thesis also explores how legal and institutional changes which purport to advance the decolonisation of Bolivian society have served to further conflict among local leaders. In part, ideological differences are articulated through contested notions of what it means to be originario: a term roughly equivalent in contemporary Bolivia to indigenous, but which in the context of local discussions relates to what it means to be a member of their community. I suggest that a way of understanding this conflict is as an ‘ethical discourse’: a process in which different groups or persons contest and seek to define key elements of their shared culture, identity and morality.
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