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The paths of the politicization of indigeneity: a study on indigenous identity in Bolivian politics after 1985

Grant number: 13/01220-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2013
Effective date (End): May 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science
Principal Investigator:Rossana Rocha Reis
Grantee:Aiko Ikemura Amaral
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):13/15044-3 - The paths of the indigenous identity in Bolivian politics: a closer approach on ethnicity in Bolivian party politics after 1985, BE.EP.MS


The following work will discuss the process of politicization of indigenous identities, understood as a struggle for recognition, highlighting the dynamics of the ethnic boundaries in the interaction between the indigenous and the state in Bolivia after 1985. We sustain that as indigenous peoples root their struggle in a long background of domination which is translated into a demand for rights and for social and political recognition, they ressignify their marginality within the society and establish the foundations for their organization. We suggest that, inasmuch as identities result from constant processes of internal and external forms of definition, the possibility of constructing actually autonomous identities is only possible if the subjects are able to define by which standards should they be granted recognition, which, in turn, becomes eminently political. Following that, we observe that the indigenous struggles posits a challenge to traditional forms of defining citizenship, as they question the hegemony of the liberal paradigm so far, specially in matters of the collective nature of indigenous subject and its particular relation to the territory and politics. Therefore, indigeneity is presented as a key factor for understanding the political changes in Bolivia over the last decades, but also for analyzing the process of decolonization of nation-state categories and institutions. We herein discuss how the struggle for recognition in the legal and social dimensions was key for constructing a broader critique of the internal colonialism in the Bolivian State, followed by a discussion on how the expansion of the boundaries of the indigenous identities transformed it into a converging element of a increasingly contentious process in the relation between the society and the state's institutions in their most liberal facet. Later on, we will explore how these struggles and demands were recognized in the 2009 Constitution, as a result of the mutual effort of representatives of various social movements to overcome the multicultural approach to indigenous rights with plurinationality and interculturality. Finally, we assess the present contradictions of such process, in which the political empowerment of the indigenous faces the rising centrality of representative democracy and the appeals of a indigenized national identity, as opposed to the consolidation of constitutional plurinationality and of the intercultural plea for the consolidation of the autonomy of indigenous collective subjects in Bolivia.

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
AMARAL, Aiko Ikemura. The paths of indigeneity politicization: a study on indigenous identity in Bolivian politics after 1985. 2014. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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