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Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced

Indigenous Politics and the Struggle over Land

Nicole Fabricant

Publication Year: 2012

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. In Mobilizing 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.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

I would not have been able to complete this book without the warm and loving support of so many diff erent people. In reality, like so many projects, this has been a collaborative eff ort. Thanking each and every person who contributed to the fi nal product is the most humbling part of this...

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A Note on Names

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p. xv

Ethnographers oft en disguise the names of the people they work with in order to protect informants’ rights and identities. However, in light of the fact that many of the mst leaders with whom I collaborated were, and continue to be, public fi gures, who have voiced their opinions on...

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INTRODUCTION: Indigeneity, Resources, and the Limitations of a Social Movement State

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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...

PART I: History of Resource Struggles in Bolivia

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1. SEDIMENTS OF HISTORY: Resources, Rights, and Indigenous Politics

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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...

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2. THE MAKING OF A MOVEMENT IN SANTA CRUZ: Uneven Regional Agrarian Development in Obispo Santiesteban and Ichilo

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pp. 45-75

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 offi cially titled mst collective called Pueblos Unidos (United Peoples), one must catch a bus early in the morning in...

PART II: Manufacturing Identity and Territorializing Rights

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3. AYLLU DEMOCRACY: Indigenous Law and Collective Governance as Territorial Protection

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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...

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4. AGRARIAN CITIZENSHIP: Alternative Models of Production and Food Sovereignty

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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...

PART III: Symbolic Citizenship and New Forms of Statehood

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5. MOBILE "INDIGENOUS" CITIZENSHIP: Marching for a New Agrarian Reform Law

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pp. 133-157

We finally made it to the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba in the late afternoon hours, aft er 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...

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6. A SOCIAL MOVEMENT STATE: Indigeneity in Morales’s Bolivia and a Compromised Constitution

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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...

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CONCLUSION: Revisiting Indigeneity in Resource Politics and the Battles That Lie Ahead

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pp. 183-201

This book has examined how landless and dispossessed peoples have redefi ned our understanding of citizenship in the twenty-fi rst century through their elastic redefi nition of Andean indigenous cultural forms, which in turn have come to restructure socioeconomic relations and...


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pp. 203-221


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pp. 223-237


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pp. 239-257

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601458
E-ISBN-10: 1469601451
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807837139
Print-ISBN-10: 080783713X

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 830023595
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced

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Subject Headings

  • Movimiento Sin Tierra (Bolivia).
  • Land reform -- Bolivia -- History -- 21st century.
  • Peasants -- Political activity -- Bolivia -- History -- 21st century.
  • Indians of South America -- Land tenure -- Bolivia -- History -- 21st century.
  • Indians of South America -- Bolivia -- Politics and government.
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