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  • Race and Racism in the New Bolivia

    Nancy Postero

    Chapter from the book: Postero, N. 2017. The Indigenous State: Race, Politics, and Performance in Plurinational Bolivia.


    I consider contestations over Bolivia’s historically and geographically contingent form of “post-neoliberal” capitalism as contestations over race. I describe how the government’s agenda sparked a strong racist and violent countermovement from the elite white/mestizo agribusiness sectors of the eastern lowlands, which pushed for regional autonomy from the central state. At the same time, the country’s extractivist development model adversely affects lowlands indigenous communities. I focus on the controversy over the government’s plan to build a highway through the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory, which illuminates how indigenous peoples’ bodies and territories continue to be the site of political and economic violence from Left and Right. I show how these political and economic struggles are also carried out in the realm of performance, through contested tropes and images of indigeneity and nature. But in emphasizing the ongoing and complex contestations over race, this chapter shows how difficult politics can be to enact. This chapter looks to the racial politics of the MAS state to ask the critical question of what the decolonized plurinational state became in practice.

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    Postero, N. 2017. Race and Racism in the New Bolivia. In: Postero, N, The Indigenous State. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.31.f

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    Published on May 5, 2017