Project: “Land of Nobody, land of Everybody. Class Struggle and State Construction in Times of Plurinationalism in Pando, Bolivia”
The Pando department in the northern Amazon of Bolivia today constitutes a sort of vanishing point of significant regional, national and global struggles for space. Historically isolated from the Bolivian government, the government of Evo Morales has identified Pando as a priority “to make the state" and implement a program characterized as "nationalist-developmentalist" and of which take part the exploitation of biodiversity and oil resources, the structuring of roadside under the IIRSA and national initiatives, the strengthening the bureaucratic-administrative apparatus and of the borders with Brazil and Peru and programs of "colonization" of the forest, among others. Most of these projects conflicts with the implications of the "plurinational" horizon that would characterize the new Bolivian statehood, as well as the aspirations of the peasant and indigenous populations in the region. At the same time, the department has been and is the scene of sharp confrontations between indigenous peasants and large landowners which become inscribed in national and global dynamics of change in rural areas. In this regard, the claim and construction of "departmental autonomy" is a central strategy of the dominant groups. We believe that the construction of the nation-state in Pando could involve the possibility of breaking the power relations and patrimonial mechanisms of exploitation / subordination, and of strengthening the position of the peasant and indigenous population, but it is equally possible that dominant groups may negotiate the preservation of their traditional areas of power within the emerging state structure and maintain its regional hegemony.
The fundamental questions that will guide this research are thus:
What have been the strategies of production and appropriation of space adapted by peasant and indigenous movements on the one hand, and the dominant groups on the other? How are they adapted to the new situation? How is the new state spatiality articulated with previously existing spaces (geographical, political, symbolic)? To what extent do global, national and regional dynamics of capitalism interfere in the (re-) construction of the local, and how do local actors deal with these?