Comparative indigeneities in contemporary Latin America: an analysis of ethnopolitics in Mexico and Bolivia

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Warfield, Cian
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University College Cork
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This thesis engages in a comparative analysis of two key ethnopolitical case studies drawn from Bolivia and Mexico. The intention is to critically evaluate the politically diverse ways in which Indigenous groups respond to the challenge of coloniality as they seek to restore their ethnic rights. The 2011 TIPNIS conflict between President Evo Morales (2006-2019) and lowland Indigenous communities reveals the difficulties faced by Bolivia’s former Indigenous president who struggled to find equilibrium between ethnic rights and national economic development. While Morales himself claimed to represent the interests of all Bolivian ethnic groups, the TIPNIS conflict showed that a policy of neoextractivism in combination with territorial development intersected with the struggle for ethnoterritoriality to reproduce scenes of chaos, conflict and socio-territorial change which sometimes distorted, at other times, enhanced his image as an Andean-decoloniser. Comparatively, in 2003, the Zapatista social justice movement bypassed Mexican state relations in order to satisfy their search for ethnoterritoriality. While the Zapatistas struggled in the midst of this pursuit against a global capitalist framework, which they claim, masquerades as international free-trade alliances and foreign corporatism, the rebels have become an important ethnopolitical model of resistance in the context of a neoliberal Mexico. Conceptually framed around notions of place and space, this interdisciplinary study uses a broad range of theoretical approaches (decolonial theory, discourse theory, utopia studies) which facilitates an innovative reading of key speeches, declarations, government policy documents, communiqués and locally-sourced journalistic material and relies on a range of scholarship drawn from cultural studies, political science, anthropology and philosophy. Through its comparative design, this thesis not only generates fresh and original perspectives on contemporary ethnopolitical activity between Mexico and Bolivia but also reveals the challenges, opportunities, similarities and differences which shape diverse forms of ethnopolitcal resistance across the region today.
Indigeneity , Mexico , Bolivia , Ethnopolitics , Latin America , Place , Space
Warfield, C. 2020. Comparative indigeneities in contemporary Latin America: an analysis of ethnopolitics in Mexico and Bolivia. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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