Conference Session on Autonomy and Bolivia

Society for Latin American Studies conference, Aberdeen, UK – Call for papers (Deadline: 28 November 2014)

Session title: Autonomies as radical decentralisation? Lessons from Bolivia
Organisers: Philipp Horn (University of Manchester), Jessica Hope (University of Manchester), Rachel Godfrey Wood (IDS, Sussex), Pedro Pachaguaya (ADA La Paz, Bolivia)

This panel explores the limits and contours of autonomy, using Bolivia as a case-study. It seeks to engender cross disciplinary debate on entanglements between autonomy, identity, rights, nature and radical counter-hegemonic politics.

Although 20th century state-building in Bolivia aspired to centre political power in the national government, this project was often fraught with state weakness and an exclusionary model of development, leaving many groups to organise collectively at the local level. Following initial decentralisation reforms in the 1990s with the Law of Popular Participation, more radical changes were introduced in Bolivia’s 2009 constitution which recognises Bolivia as ‘plurinational’ state with departmental, regional, municipal and indigenous autonomies. Interpreting and implementing autonomy, however, is proving complex and has involved conflicts and debates between multiple groups with disparate developmental, political and environmental goals. Using theories that link processes of autonomy to wider political processes, this panel seeks to explore how policy and practice regarding autonomy in Bolivia link to wider debates on indigeneity, decentralisation, political ecology, urbanisation and livelihood.

We invite papers that investigate autonomy in Bolivia from a range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. Papers should take into account the following questions: To what extent and how are rights for autonomies manifested in the 2009 constitution translated into practice? Do newly established autonomies lead to the empowerment of local governments, social movements, or ordinary citizens? What impact do new autonomies have on the construction of identities (national, local, indigenous, class, etc.)? What wider political processes and debates are impacted by Bolivia’s autonomy model?

Please follow the instructions for abstract submissions on this website.

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