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Title: Landscapes of alterity : climate change in contemporary Bolivia
Author: Bold, Rosalyn Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 5068
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis considers perceptions of climate change in contemporary Bolivia. It commences with a view of a small highland community, Kaata, and expands outwards, tracing the networks of migration that connect this village to the city, and looking at how climate change discourse changes as we scale up to the national and international level. Climate change is considered in Kaata to constitute an ontological shift from the networks of reciprocity which until recently comprised a whole landscape, holding community members to one another as well as to neighbouring villages and telluric landscape spirits. Young people now increasingly desire city made commodities, engaging in capitalist relations which lead them away from this landscape. Climate change thus charts a weakening of the community, of people, their fields and rituals. While a modernist perspective is inclined to separate the weather, as ‘nature’, from ‘culture’ or human actions, Kaateños consider all these conversant animate elements of a system. I take this emic definition of climate change as the basis of this thesis. We continue, following the human element of this landscape, the young people, in the networks that draw them into the city, analysing the desires by which they are led there. Crucially, these are shaped by mimesis, emulating the city/western other through changing dress and dancing styles. I show how these dynamics of alterity are deeply rooted, resembling classic structuralist analyses of Andean culture based in the ethnic interplay of self and other. In Chapter Three I look at efforts to reform Bolivia’s agricultural system through implementing Food Sovereignty (FS). The social movements representing Kaata hope this would connect such villages into national markets and thus motivate young people to remain there through integrating the village into cash economies. I explore how such measures become influenced by a city-based discourse of an ideal rural ‘other’, which is inadequate to the contemporary reality of villages like Kaata, and limits their efficacy, even where young people desire return migration. The FS discourse is similarly influenced by a search for an ideal ‘other’ removed from capitalism. In Chapter Four I assess President Evo Morales’ claim to be effecting a pachakuti, a shift in the ontological bases of the nation, equal and counterposed to the Spanish conquest. Kaata challenges Morales’ assertion of a pachakuti of Andean against colonial values, as it considers that it is shifting to become more ‘white’. Indian actors are nationally rising within a landscape determined by international capital, revealing Morales’ pachakuti to be human-centred. Rather than transforming existing landscapes to make them more indigenous, this is a pachakuti or ontological shift to the landscape of the western ‘other’, entailing the ‘death’ of the highlands and tradition. The Tipnis crisis presents challenges Morales on the national stage. I conclude that while the animist landscapes Kaata evokes can help moderns conceptualise climate change, it does not provide the solution sought after from animist indigenous peoples at an international level. While they are fetishized as ‘the people outside capitalism’, human agency is but a small factor in an animist landscape, and humans have not the agency to combat climate change.
Supervisor: Wade, Peter ; Harvey, Penelope Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Andes- Bolivia ; Indigenous ; Climate change