I have followed bilingual intercultural education and indigenous resurgence
in Bolivia since 1992 through several years of extended residence and field-
work and frequent return visits. This book draws on this experience—in part
collaborative work, in part anthropological study. Over these fifteen years,
I worked primarily with an indigenous movement, the Assembly of the
Guarani People (apg). I also did short-term teaching and research with
development agencies, state o≈ces, and other indigenous organizations. I
therefore write from the position of academic anthropology and from a
stance of critical engagement with indigenous movements and their state
and development network allies. In this book, I negotiate this position by
attempting to objectively portray facts, words, and events tied to the politics
of knowledge and indigenous movements, and by making clear—without, I
hope, undue self-absorption—my own sympathies and biases. I apologize in
advance to those compañeros and interlocutors under scrutiny, but I turn the
ethnographic light on people of all sorts, indigenous, criollo, gringo, and
otherwise, hoping for a fair portrayal and, in a small way, the decolonization
of our discipline. I hope this book will document a crucial segment of
Bolivian indigenous history and the country’s pursuit for a distinct social,
cultural, and economic order. If it provides a source of reflection for future
research, activism, and change, all the better.
The impetus behind this book dates to my undergraduate studies at
Tulane University. R. McKenna Brown, Linda Curcio-Nagy, Judith Max-
well, and Maureen Shea encouraged engaged research and a fascination with
Latin American social movements. They started me on a journey that began
in Guatemala and ended in Bolivia. After my first stint in Bolivia (1992–94),
my graduate studies at Harvard and continued fieldwork benefited from the
support of David Maybury-Lewis, Sally Falk Moore, and Kay Warren. Be-
goña Aretxaga, Steve Caton, William Fisher, Kenneth George, Michael
Herzfeld, Ted Macdonald, Ben Penglase, María Clemencia Ramirez, Sarah
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