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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24323

Title: Red October: Left-Indigenous Struggles in Bolivia, 2000-2005
Authors: Webber, Jeffery Roger
Advisor: Teichman, Judith A.
Department: Political Science
Keywords: Bolivia
working class
social movements
class struggle
Latin America
Issue Date: 13-Apr-2010
Abstract: This dissertation provides an analytical framework for understanding the left-indigenous cycle of extra-parliamentary insurrection in Bolivia between 2000 and 2005. It draws from Marxist and indigenous-liberationist theory to challenge the central presuppositions of liberal-institutionalist understandings of contemporary indigenous politics in Latin America, as well as the core tenets of mainstream social movement studies. The central argument is that a specific combination of elaborate infrastructures of class struggle and social-movement unionism, historical traditions of indigenous and working-class radicalism, combined oppositional consciousness, and fierce but insufficient state repression, explain the depth, breadth, and radical character of recent left-indigenous mobilizations in Bolivia. The coalition of insurrectionary social forces in the Gas Wars of 2003 and 2005 was led by indigenous informal workers, acting in concert with formal workers, peasants, and to a smaller degree, middle-class actors. The indigenous informal working classes of the city of El Alto, in particular, utilized an elaborate infrastructure of class struggle in order to overcome structural barriers to collective action and to take up their leading role. The supportive part played by the formal working class was made possible by the political orientation toward social-movement unionism adopted by leading trade-union federations. Radicalized peasants mobilized within the broader alliance through their own rural infrastructure of class struggle. The whole array of worker and peasant social forces drew on longstanding popular cultures of indigenous liberation and revolutionary Marxism which they adapted to the novel context of the twenty-first century. These popular cultures ultimately congealed in a new combined oppositional consciousness, rooted simultaneously in the politics of indigenous resistance and class struggle. This collective consciousness, in turn, strengthened the mobilizing capacities of the popular classes and reinforced the radical character of protest. At key junctures, social movement leaders were able to synthesize oppositional consciousness into a focused collective action frame of nationalizing the natural gas industry. Finally, throughout the left-indigenous cycle, ruthless state repression was nonetheless insufficiently powerful to wipe out opposition altogether and therefore acted only to intensify the scale of protests and radicalize demands still further. The legitimacy of the neoliberal social order and the coercive power required to reproduce it were increasingly called into question as violence against civilians increased.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24323
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Political Science - Doctoral theses

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