Voice in the Village: Indigenous Peoples Contest Globalization in Bolivia

By Brysk, Alison; Bennett, Natasha | The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Voice in the Village: Indigenous Peoples Contest Globalization in Bolivia


Brysk, Alison, Bennett, Natasha, The Brown Journal of World Affairs


The close of the twentieth century saw the unexpected rise of an indigenous peoples' rights movement in Latin America and worldwide, contesting 500 years of oppression and the emerging challenges of globalization. By the turn of the millennium, indigenous rights campaigns had gained a voice in local, national, and international political arenas. Yet the legacies of oppression and the pressures of globalization continue, and inclusion has translated only partially into empowerment. Now we must ask when and how indigenous peoples gain influence over the development processes that threaten their lands, cultures, and livelihoods.

Bolivia provides a good case study in indigenous empowerment, since it is an indigenous majority country whose marginalized population has been struggling for rights in waves since the 1952 Revolution. In the 1990s, Bolivia's indigenous peoples made vast strides in legal recognition, political representation, and local autonomy, and began to contest globalization projects such as internationally sponsored dams and roads. But recently, development crises, internal political divisions, and lack of leverage in key transnational venues have limited the gains achieved by indigenous communities throughout the continent. Thus, the outcome of current indigenous struggles in Bolivia can help us to assess the prospects, potential, and limitations of the critical move from inclusion to empowerment in the era of twenty-first century globalization. After examining an overview of trends in indigenous rights struggles, we will focus on the Bolivian experience.

FROM TRIBAL VILLAGE TO GLOBAL VILLAGE: THE BIG PICTURE

After centuries of chronic marginalization, indigenous peoples found their voice in the era of globalization. The key to their mobilization was the transnational formation of a pan-indigenous identity, coalitions with global civil society, and a series of appeals to international institutions and grassroots supporters above and below blocked state institutions. As Latin America democratized in the second half of the twentieth century, some governments became receptive to contestation. But the 1990s were also the peak of neoliberalism, in which globalization was a double-edged sword for indigenous peoples. At the same time that globalization challenged indigenous livelihoods and cultures, it also provided new tools for political mobilization and self-defense.

The threats and challenges of globalization included the expansion of state power, economic development, and cultural domination. Throughout the Amazon Basin, in Colombia, and in the Sandinista conflict with Nicaragua's Miskitos ethnic group, indigenous peoples have been displaced and persecuted by the militarization of national borders and manipulation by rebel groups. In some areas, this security crisis overlaps with cultural nation building that seeks forced assimilation through the suppression of native languages, religions, and family life.

In Latin America, North America, and Asia alike, tribal groups are threatened by several dynamics of economic development: construction of infrastructure such as dams and roads by international agencies, resource extraction by transnational corporations, loss of collective lands to privatization, and incursions by impoverished neighbors displaced by national development and globalization. In the latter scenario, tribal peoples are often vulnerable to physical abuse by police, military, and paramilitary forces enforcing national development plans, protecting transnational projects, or simply executing the orders of local elites. Mexico's Zapatista uprising reflects this pattern acutely: it was mounted on the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994 in response to the associated privatization of historical collective land rights for tribal communities.

In response to these challenges, indigenous peoples have mobilized for their rights and achieved an unexpected impact, especially in Latin America. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Voice in the Village: Indigenous Peoples Contest Globalization in Bolivia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.