Nations, Cities and Organizations
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Maddy Janssens, Myriam Bechtoldt, Arie de Ruijter, Dino Pinello, Giovanni Prarolo and Vanja M.K. Stenius
Chapter 5: Cultural Diversity in Bolivia: From Liberal Interculturalism to Indigenous Modernity
J. Fernando Galindo 5.1 INTRODUCTION At the present time Bolivia is an appealing observatory for analyzing cultural diversity and its transformations. Cultural diversity in Bolivia is undergoing a sea change: from the secular exclusion of its ethnic majorities during colonial times (16th century), which continued during the republic (19th and 20th centuries), Bolivia has transitioned to indigenous ascendance to state power at the beginning of the 21st century. In the last two decades (1990–2009), Bolivia has undergone a transition process. State-led multiculturalism that granted legal and political rights to indigenous populations so they could be part of a Unitarian liberal state as indigenous citizens has moved toward a plurinational state that fully acknowledges and incorporates the cultural diversity of its indigenous populations. We can now make out the contours of an emergent indigenous modernity.1 This transition raises a key question for cultural diversity: what happens when ethnic majorities who have been excluded from power and society are faced with the task of building a democratic society that includes the social sectors that historically excluded them? This question relates to the broader process of emancipation and/or decolonization of Bolivian indigenous populations, and the tensions posed by changing power relations, identities, and access to material resources. After a brief description of the history of indigenous–state relations in Bolivia, I describe key features of state-led multiculturalism and the emergent plurinational state. Then, I outline a few of the challenges in this transition period, and end with some general considerations about emancipation...