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Title: From national to pluri-national : rethinking the transformation of the Bolivian state through struggles for autonomy
Author: Matthes, Britta Katharina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 637X
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2018
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Following a series of profound conflicts in the early 21st century, Bolivia became the world’s first pluri-national state in 2009. The idea of the pluri-national state goes beyond the (uni-)national state; imagining a state that allows peoples’ coexistence on an equal footing in a state that facilitates their autonomy (Garcés, 2011). However, recent research indicates that, in practice, the Bolivian state transformation is full of tensions. Based on a framework that brings together Open Marxism (Holloway and Picciotto, 1977; Clarke, 1991c; Bonefeld et al., 1992b, a; Bonefeld et al., 1995b) and the 'de-colonial option' (Quijano, 2006), I offer in-depth insights into contemporary Bolivia. In this, I understand the state as the political form of the social relations of capital, which is marked by modernity and its 'darker side' - coloniality (Mignolo, 2011). This thesis offers tools for studying how the state 'translates' indigenous- and non-indigenous struggles into policies, law and polity (Dinerstein, 2015) while also mediating external pressures. After embedding the pluri-national state in its historical context, covering the emergence and development of the Bolivian state form, I look in depth at the pluri-national state. In this, I unpack the multifaceted struggles for autonomy and find that when mediating autonomy into the pluri-national state, something essential to the definition of plurinationality is lost in translation. First, struggles for autonomy as peoples’ self-determination and deepened decentralisation became subordinated to, yet not annihilated by the government’s social-communitarian model that is advocated in the name of the pueblo’s self-determination and ensures the state’s material basis. Secondly, state-recognised autonomy comes at the cost of submission to a state which continuously operates pre-dominantly according to modern/colonial ideas of law, order and organisation. The contradictions found in the pluri-national autonomy regime and the state are inherent in it and hence, cannot be resolved through reform.
Supervisor: Dinerstein, Ana ; Copestake, James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Autonomy ; State transformation ; Self-determination ; Decentralisation ; pluri-national ; indigenous peoples ; Bolivia