Gotkowitz, Laura. A Revolution for Our Rights Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880-1952. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.
Focused on indigenous organizing and politics in pre-1952 Cochabamba, Laura Gotkowitz’s A Revolution for our Rights tells the story of the “revolution before the revolution.” This book is key because it fleshes out the intricacies, associations and years of struggle that often get written out of narratives of revolution. Thus while it does not discuss the land reform implemented as part of the Bolivian National Revolution, it meticulously lays out the legal battles, confrontations and protests launched by rural people for some 70 years before. Stressing legal battles, Gotkowitz shows how communities mobilized against the Liberal project fighting for corporate “absolute rights to property” in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Additionally they often fought for recognition of their right to rights. For instance, as a result of the 1945 Indigenous Congress a series of laws protecting colonos from their hacienda owners were passed. However, it was up to the communities to ensure that the laws were observed; Villarroel made no effort to enforce them.
As important as the emphasis placed on legal battles, is Gotkowitz’s unearthing of the dense network of associations that fueled indigenous and colono mobilization in Cochabamba. First off, struggles were often waged as indigenous community members and hacienda colonos together. Moreover, Gotkowitz shows how they were linked to urban labour movements, like the Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores de Bolivia (CSTB), as well as radical parties and organizations.
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Marisol de la Cadena. Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919-1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.
Marisol de la Cadena’s Indigenous Mestizos tracks the roots and practices of what she calls “de-indianization,” or the process by which the racism that differentiates between categories of “Indian” and “mestizo” is reproduced and contested by working-class Cuzco residents. Balancing intellectual history and ethnography, the book charts elite ideas of race throughout the twentieth century and then examines the ambivalent reprocessing of those ideas by indigenous organizations, other intellectuals, as well as in daily practice in markets, and public and religious rituals.
She argues that Cuzco elites first developed a discourse of indigenismo as a way of distinguishing themselves from the modernist discourses of mestizaje that were associated with Lima. Meanwhile indigenous groups like the Comité Pro-Derecho Indígena Tawuantinsuyu perpetuated a vision of Indian-ness steeped in modern rhetoric of progress through education. By the 1930s and 1940s indigenista elites found competition in the form of “neo-indianist” ideas that, rather than exalting an idealized Inca past, promoted a discourse of mestizaje. Finally there were the Marxists, who, in the form of the Federación de Trabajadores del Cuzco in the 1950s and in the form of the government by the time Velasco famously turned Indians into peasants, represented the closest allies of indigenous cuzqueños. In the waning days of indigenismo, after the defeat of the Tawantinsuyu’s racialized pro-indigenous project, the alignment of indigenous issues with unions meant a confluence of race and class. While de la Cadena argues biology had never served the basis for twentieth-century racial categories, the general trajectory that she describes is one in which Indian-ness goes from being defined by culture, to being defined by class.
Burt, Jo-Marie, y Philip Mauceri, eds. Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.
As a volume I have to admit I didn’t find this book too useful. The comparative framework and normative baseline use of an ill-defined—even vacuous—notion of “democracy” made its contribution too vague for my liking. While I understand the attempt to isolate regional similarities in identity politics, violence and political transformation, and situate them within “broader, historical, political, economic and social trends,” (14) I’m afraid Burt and Mauceri cast the net too far.
That said, the individual case studies are of some use. Xavier Albó’s piece takes Yashar’s comparative approach and reaches the same conclusion that Greene and García challenge: namely that of Peruvian exceptionalism. Interestingly, he relies heavily on Iván Degregori’s argument, that Peru saw little indigenous mobilization, because of migration to the coast, where “choledad” was the mainstay of ethnic identity. Collins fleshes out a case from Van Cott, looking at the way Pachakutik emerged as an electoral manifestation of CONAIE.
The only other thing I want to mention is the emphasis placed on the role of personalistic politics in the rule of figures like Fujimori (Burt) and Chávez (López and Lander) and the threats it poses to, as well as the ways it interacts with, democratization.
Martínez-Alier’s explanation of political ecology and its relation to political economy begins by addressing the long-time reluctance of Marxists to take on questions of ecology. From Marx and Engels’ initial rejection of Podolinsky’s ideas, to the New Left’s failure to see environmentalism as more than just the ICUN, WWF and the Sierra club, Marxist critiques until the 1970s and 80s failed to acknowledge the “effluents of affluence” and resource distribution for fear of naturalizing human history. Martinez-Alier remarks on the myopia of such rejection, considering how social Darwinists, Neo-Malthusians (not sure how this jives with his positive treatment of feminist Neo-Malthusians in The Environmentalism of the Poor?) and in particular Garret Hardin have been using ecology “with criminal intent and to devastating effect against fellow human beings” (26) for some time. (Though indirect, I read this as a response to the way early political ecology was initially associated with Ehrlich, Harding, etc. (Bryant and Bailey, Chapter 1).)
Contrary to naturalizing history, Martinez-Alier argues, examining the effluents of affluence and ecological distribution conflicts historicizes ecology. As myriad examples from Ecuador to Chile demonstrate, while most anti-industrial struggles may resist characterization as “environmentalist,” they are nonetheless deeply rooted in ecology (as shown in Hugo Blanco’s quote and the case of La Oroya, which Mallon historicizes in detail).
Orlove, Benjamin S. “Down to Earth: Race and Substance in the Andes.” Bulletin of Latin American Research 17, no. 2 (1998): 207-222.
I wrote far too much on the last Orlove piece I posted on, so I’ll try and keep this one succinct. This piece deals with the intersections of people’s relation to the earth and racialized identities. Specifically it looks at the way everyday objects of two categories—earthen and earth-touching—participate in the way mestizo (read urban) and Indian (read rural) identities are construed.
Regarding Earthen objects, Orlove looks at adobe bricks, dirt roads and clay pots. As case studies he addresses: one community member’s attempt not to pisar tierra by purchasing his share of bricks to contribute to a community school; the butting territorialities of government ministries and villagers as played out on roads connecting the highway and the shore of Lake Titicaca; and “earthy taste” of food prepared in clay pots.
Shoes and floors are the two earth-touching types of objects that interest Orlove. Kinds, uses, and the shininess of shoes supposedly differentiate race, while it is the kind and cleaning of floors that marks one mestizo or Indian.
Orlove, Benjamin S. “Putting Race in Its Place: Order in Colonial and Postcolonial Peruvian Geography.” Social Research 60, no. 2 (Summer93 1993): 301-336.
Orlove discusses the shift in notions of ordered space that occurred between the colonial and republican periods in Peru. Dividing his study temporally between the production of colonial and republican geographies, he looks at settlements, mountains and Indians as objects of geographic study and asks how their ordering was conditioned by disciplinary, administrative and hegemonic impulses.
To form what he calls the colonial geography produced between 1574 and 1790, Orlove looks at the relaciones geográficas, the descripciones and the itinerarios produced by colonial officials. He highlights the prominence of the Greek variables of hot/cold and wet/dry as they were used to designate parts of the viceroyalty and shows how this facilitated a correlation between geography and medicine. (305) Through this correlation we see that space was marked more by climate than topography—although it was a factor—and that climate was read as determining health (think “Buenos Aires”).
Mallon, Florencia E. Peasant and Nation the Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
In Peasant and Nation, Mallon’s treatment of the central highlands takes a turn toward what she deems political history from below. By examining the way in which ethnicity- and gender-based hierarchies influenced the way rural communities generated nationalist discourses (she calls this communal hegemony), Mallon foregrounds the agency of rural actors in the process by which a state becomes hegemonic. This time comparing the case of Junin with cases from Puebla and Morelos, Mexico, and Cajamarca, Peru, she concludes that the Peruvian state would not become hegemonic until the Velasco regime based on the way hegemonic national discourses played out at the local, regional and national level. In the case of the central highlands of Junin, the separatist tendencies of the Comas Federation and the inherent rejection of Lima articulated at the regional level made the achievement of regional consent for state policy impossible until well into the middle of the twentieth century, even despite the flourishing communal political culture that arose in the fight against Chile. What I want to highlight about this case is that in her treatment of this three-tiered conflation of hegemonic processes, Mallon is still reliant on the articulation approach.
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Mallon, Florencia E.. The Defense of Community in Peru's Central Highland: Peasant Struggle and Capitalist Transition, 1860-1940. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1983.
In The Defense of Community in Peru’s Central Highlands Mallon concentrates on the transition of modes of production in the Yanamarca and Mantaro valleys over the long nineteenth century. She challenges the notion that the highlands saw a uniform shift to capitalism under the modernization efforts of Nicolás de Piérola Villena in the lead up to and following the War of the Pacific. Indeed, by examining the interwoven nature of the region’s three major economic sectors—mining, agriculture and commerce—and demonstrating the interdependence of those sectors and the different factors constituting local household economies, she shows that the penetration of commercial capital into the region began with land speculation and cultivation was late to have an effect on mining operations.
Her argument treats flexibility and assimilation as defense. That is, she suggests that communities were able to maintain their social structures due to the flexibility of the peasant household economy and its ability to absorb the penetration of capitalist modes of production without substantial social alterations. In effect she describes the contentious and uneven process by which commercial capital became hegemonic in the Central Highlands, examining its impact on three distinct yet interrelated economic sectors.