"Sowing Death in Our Women's Wombs": Modernization and Indigenous Nationalism in the 1960s Peace Corps and Jorge Sanjinés' Yawar Mallku


This paper explores the centrality of gender and sexual politics to both 1960s modernization discourses and anti-imperialist cultural nationalist ideologies through an analysis of Jorge Sanjinés' 1969 radical neorealist film Yawar Mallku, the text that led to the Peace Corps' expulsion from Bolivia. After outlining the development discourse that explicitly guided both the Peace Corps and the Revolutionary Nationalist (MNR) government of Bolivia and exploring the relationship of this discourse to the Bolivian radical and indigenous movements of the late 1960s, this paper reads Yawar Mallku in the context of these movements to arrive at an understanding how cultural nationalism in Bolivia became directed towards the developmentalist ideal of a masculine utopia whose construction would entail controlling women's bodies. Finally, the paper attempts to understand how indigenous women in Bolivia have articulated radical political visions within and in response to U.S. modernizing forces and indigenous cultural nationalism.