Spectacles of Bolivian well-being: local yearnings, national agendas
(Goldsmiths, University of London)
Paper short abstract:
Indigenous movements and Bolivia's self-proclaimed indigenous government promote a national agenda of well-being inspired by indigenous communality and reciprocity. Such ambitions do not necessarily coincide with the aspirations of indigenous communities in the Andes creating moral ambiguities.
Paper long abstract:
In heated debates the indigenous movements of Bolivia, NGOs and the state defined the country's moral compass: suma qamaña or vivir bien, live well. This national ambition is enshrined in Bolivia's 2009 Constitution and evokes the aspirations of well-being as lived by indigenous communities including spirituality and environmental sustainability. It is persistently promoted as an antidote to the destructive capitalist rationale of continuous economic growth, and a just future without neoliberalism. However, the virtuous national agenda does not always travel well. In line with contemporary indigenous intellectuals, the Andean villagers of Toracari, indeed, perform rituals establishing reciprocal relations with the earth, deities, fauna and flora. Accordingly, they produce a temporary community with all spheres of life which is vital to the well-being of all, including humans. In addition, they recreate proper relations of community performing a series of personal obligations and, importantly, working on and in the earth. Successful ritual practices and abundant harvests create the most energising experiences of individual and communal well-being and agency. Ritual skills and agricultural productivity make the indigenous farmers into worthy people, campuruna, setting them apart from the unproductive and exploitative patrones, q'ara or llajtaruna; powerful outsiders, urbanites. Yet, the indigenous population of Toracari also aspires to become q'ara and the urban progress it implies. That is why many of them are migrating to the Bolivian cities and beyond. This paper explores these moral discrepancies analysing the ambiguities generated by the confluence of a new national moral and incompatible local yearnings.
Virtuous (im)mobilities: the good life and its discrepancies