Synopses & Reviews
A Revolution for Our Rights
is a critical reassessment of the causes and significance of the Bolivian Revolution of 1952. Historians have tended to view the revolution as the result of class-based movements that accompanied the rise of peasant leagues, mineworker unions, and reformist political projects in the 1930s. Laura Gotkowitz argues that the revolution had deeper roots in the indigenous struggles for land and justice that swept through Bolivia during the first half of the twentieth century. Challenging conventional wisdom, she demonstrates that rural indigenous activists fundamentally reshaped the military populist projects of the 1930s and 1940s. In so doing, she chronicles a hidden rural revolutionandmdash;before the revolution of 1952andmdash;that fused appeals for equality with demands for a radical reconfiguration of political power, landholding, and rights.
Gotkowitz combines an emphasis on national political debates and congresses with a sharply focused analysis of Indian communities and large estates in the department of Cochabamba. The fragmented nature of Cochabambaandrsquo;s Indian communities and the pioneering significance of its peasant unions make it a propitious vantage point for exploring contests over competing visions of the nation, justice, and rights. Scrutinizing state authoritiesandrsquo; efforts to impose the law in what was considered a lawless countryside, Gotkowitz shows how, time and again, indigenous activists shrewdly exploited the ambiguous status of the stateandrsquo;s pro-Indian laws to press their demands for land and justice. Bolivian indigenous and social movements have captured worldwide attention during the past several years. By describing indigenous mobilization in the decades preceding the revolution of 1952, A Revolution for Our Rights illuminates a crucial chapter in the long history behind present-day struggles in Bolivia and contributes to an understanding of indigenous politics in modern Latin America more broadly.
Analyzes struggles over citizenship and nationhood in Bolivia, following the fate of subaltern projects for political inclusion and asking why ethnic/racial claims were more effectively incorporated into the revolutionary agenda than were gender demands.
About the Author
“A Revolution for Our Rights is a major contribution to studies of Andean history and anthropology and to studies of indigenous and popular politics in Latin America as a whole. In this exciting and powerful study, Laura Gotkowitz illuminates modern Indian political engagements in what is today the most indigenous country in the Americas.”—Sinclair Thomson, author of We Alone Will Rule: Native Andean Politics in the Age of Insurgency“An innovative, eloquent, and deeply researched history that locates indigenous subjects at the very center of Bolivia’s prolonged struggle for internal decolonization and democracy in the tumultuous half-century leading up to the 1952 Revolution. The book’s fascinating, fine-grained explorations of the radical implications (and grotesque realities) of citizenship and social justice for Bolivia’s Quechua and Aymara communities is a profound—and timely—contribution to our understanding of how indigenous politics and social movements can sometimes change the course of history.”—Brooke Larson, author of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910“This is a most impressive work of history—deeply grounded in archival and primary sources, clearly and beautifully written, and sharply perceptive of the subtleties as well as the extremities that so characterize Andean life. The book will become a required resource for understanding not only the Bolivian Revolution of 1952 but also the social movements of the contemporary period, in which the role of Cochabamba is still poorly understood.”—James Dunkerley, author of Bolivia: Revolution and the Power of History in the Present
Table of Contents
1. The Peculiar Paths of the Liberal Project 17
2. Indigenista Statecraft and the Rise of the Caciques Apoderados 43
3. andquot;In Our Provinces There Is No Justiceandquot;: Caciques Apoderados and the Crisis of the Liberal Project 69
4. The Problem of National Unity: From the Chaco War to the 1938 Constitutional Convention 101
5. The Unruly Countryside: Defending Land, Labor Rights, and Autonomy 131
6. The Unwilling City: Villarroel Populism and the Politics of Mestizaje 164
7. andquot;The Disgrace of the Pongo and the Mitaniandquot;: The 1945 Indigenous Congress and a Law against Servitude 192
8. andquot;Under the Dominion of the Indianandquot;: The 1947 Cycle of Unrest 233
Conclusion and Epilogue: Rethinking the Rural Roots of the 1952 Revolution 268