Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 - 9643
Fax: 49 (0) 89 / 2180 - 9602
Indigeneities in the 21st century: From ‘vanishing people’ to global players in one generation
(ERC Starting Grant, Number 803302)
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Philipp Schorch
Research interests/Area of responsibility
Indigeneity beyond “Buen Vivir”: The Aymara case in Bolivia
One of the most important concepts in Latin American social sciences and politics is “Buen Vivir” or “Living Well” (“Suma Qhamaña” in the Aymara language). It is presented as a contribution of Indigenous peoples and an alternative philosophical category to Western culture and capitalism, integrating principles such as the complementarity with Mother Earth and a life based on ancestral knowledge. In 2006, “Buen Vivir” was incorporated into the new constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, institutionalizing it as the official narrative for understanding Indigenousness. However, its content is a far cry from the Indigenous demands of the 1960s, when the struggle for Indigenous rights began. At that time, Aymara movements forming the first Indian parties based on their own ideologies stood out. These movements raised the issues of decolonization, participation in politics, and the fight against racism and social exclusion.
At what point did Indigenous demands for greater political participation turn to issues such as those raised by “Buen Vivir” today? This PhD thesis aims to answer this question by historically and ethnographically studying the processes through which, from the political activism of the 1960s to the present day, “Buen Vivir” has become an official category for representing Aymara Indigeneity. The research will also reveal whether these official narratives are manifested in the current processes of urbanization and social, economic, and political positioning of the Aymara population, taking the city of El Alto as a case study.
Ruben Dario Chambi studied Anthropology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), Bolivia, and holds a master’s degree in Human Rights, Democracy and Globalisation from the Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Since 2006, he has worked as a project manager, consultant, trainer, and researcher in various academic and development organizations in Bolivia. He is the author of several publications on issues related to autonomy and Indigenous rights, decolonization, “Buen Vivir” (Living Well) and child labour. His current project is focused on the processes of modernity, identity, coloniality and reflection on categories such as “Buen Vivir” among the Aymara communities.
List of Publications (519 KB)
- CV Ruben Chambi (469 KByte)