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Between grassroots expectations, political visions, and the contemporary local state: the everyday challenges of indigenous/peasant organizations in the Bolivian Andes


Hess, Monika; Flores, Sabino Ruiz; Geiser, Urs (2017). Between grassroots expectations, political visions, and the contemporary local state: the everyday challenges of indigenous/peasant organizations in the Bolivian Andes. Journal of Latin American Geography, 16(3):135-158.

Abstract

Has the increased political influence of indigenous/peasant organizations on the local state in the Bolivian Andes helped them better address persistent poverty among the grassroots? The insights we gained in Northern Potosí show that there are two major movements with divergent political visions (framed around class or “peasantness”), and thus two long-term strategies for vivir bien. But both represent the same grassroots realities, and their communal leaders seek to apply similar practices (e.g. improving agricultural production or accessing off-farm employment in the mines of Mallku Khota). They also face the same difficulties—leading to complaints from their constituencies about the lack of actual support in the productive sphere. We find that this contradiction between political influence and grassroots criticism emerges less from the movements’ ideological struggles over agrarian change, and more from everyday problems, including the difficulties their local representatives face as part of the complex local administrative system, the persistence of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and movements’ obstructive practices of competition. Such mundane issues, we argue, are as important as issues of ideology
in debates about agrarian/rural struggles.

Abstract

Has the increased political influence of indigenous/peasant organizations on the local state in the Bolivian Andes helped them better address persistent poverty among the grassroots? The insights we gained in Northern Potosí show that there are two major movements with divergent political visions (framed around class or “peasantness”), and thus two long-term strategies for vivir bien. But both represent the same grassroots realities, and their communal leaders seek to apply similar practices (e.g. improving agricultural production or accessing off-farm employment in the mines of Mallku Khota). They also face the same difficulties—leading to complaints from their constituencies about the lack of actual support in the productive sphere. We find that this contradiction between political influence and grassroots criticism emerges less from the movements’ ideological struggles over agrarian change, and more from everyday problems, including the difficulties their local representatives face as part of the complex local administrative system, the persistence of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and movements’ obstructive practices of competition. Such mundane issues, we argue, are as important as issues of ideology
in debates about agrarian/rural struggles.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:27 Nov 2017 17:07
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 09:24
Publisher:University of Texas Press * Journals Division
ISSN:1548-5811
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1353/lag.2017.0047

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