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«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»

-- [ Page 19 ] --

In the second half of my fieldwork, I lived in, participated and supported the “Vigilia de San Francisco” that was initiated by CONAM AQ in La Paz for nearly 6 w eeks, until it was officially dismantled. During this period o f time 1 worked with C O N A M A Q, CIDOB and CEPLAP doing whatever tasks they required me to do in order to support the X III March de Tierra y Dignidad and maintain the solidarity vigil. During this tim e, I slept in the vigil with the indigenous authorities; attended their meetings, participated in the marches they organized, contributed to and helped in organized daily press readings and provided technical support when requested. It was during my second phase o f fieldw ork that the political climate in Bolivia became particularly tense- evolving from the violent repression of the march by the MAS government on September 25,2011.

My fieldwork methodology in Bolivia developed into what Philipe Bourgeois refers to as engaged anthropology. 1 became an active political participant, attempting to participate or observe all that I possibly could. After the police repressed the TIPNIS march on the 25 of September, things turned from tense to hostile, with massive mobilizations erupting from five major cities across the country, to be followed with general strikes, massive marches and protests.

In the collection on the role of engaged political research for studies Schatz argues that, “person-to-person contact that is attuned to the worldviews o f the people we study is invaluable for a science o f politics.”277 Once the government oppressed the TIPNIS march, I interpreted this as an important and critical conjuncture moment, and opted to stay in La Paz living in the Vigilia San Francisco. At that point I did not have my laptop or my voice recorder. I decided that since the mama leaders o f CONAM AQ were opting to take political positioning against the governm ent’s actions this would be the best place for me to be. I ended up staying in the vigil for five weeks, when it was then dism antled.

This decision proved absolutely essential for me to understand, observe and participate in 277 Edward Schatz. ‘introduction: Ethnographic Emersion and the Study o f Politics”, in P o litica l Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study o f P ow er. Ed. Edward Schatz. (Chicago: The Uni versity o f Chicago Press, 2003), 4.

the unfolding o f the TIPNIS conflict as it mounted to its m ost tense moments in September and October of 2011.

This work is critical with the hope of stimulating debate and generating alternatives.

Along this line o f reasoning, it is important to identify this project as one that is critical but in solidarity with the revolutionary process- in order to differentiate it from criticisms of the Right. If we understand the construction o f revolutionary alternatives as a process in the Gramscian sense o f the concept, then debate and critical engagement are central to this process.

As such this project is embarking on a political journey with the objective o f recognizing and moving forward with what Said aptly described as central to the developm ent of political projects, an acknowledgement o f critical consciousness. This project, then, seeks to stimulate debate with the hopes of drawing up alternatives278 to influence the proceso de cambio, not only as it exists in Bolivia, but also as it exists in the spirits o f those oppressed by capital. It requires a discussion that recognizes pre-existing racial and gendered structures of oppression, but instead focuses on the ways in which older discussions o f what we share make us stronger - this project hopes to present a politic of humanity and a politics o f possibility.

278 Kaye Warren cautions about w orking with com m unities with w hom w e are politically aligned, but argues that this work is necessary if done critically. She claim s that there is a need for activists and leftist scholars to engage in critical explorations o f governm ents or social movem ents with w hom they al ign politically and that there is a presently a m ethodological reluctance to do so, i.e through en g a g ed anthropology. See Kaye Warren. “Perils and Prom ises o f Engaged Anthropology: Historical Transitions

and Ethnographic D ilem m as,” in: The E n g a g ed O bserver: A nthropology, Advocacy, a n d A ctivism, eds:

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Gustavo Medeiros. “ Evolucion y Caracteristicas del Sector Soyero en Bolivia.” In: Los Barones del Oriente: El Poder en Santa Cruz Ayer y Hoy (Santa Cruz : Fundacion Tierra, 2008).

Gina Mendia y Guisela Lopez. “ Campesinos en Contra de cultivos transgenicos.” El Deber (2005).

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Paul Nicholson and Nicole Delforge. “ Via Campesina: Responding to global systemic food crisis.” Development, 51(2008).

Enrique Ormachea S. Revolution Agraria o Consolidation de la via terrateniente? El Gobierno del M AS v las politicos de tierras. (La Paz: CEDLA, 2008).

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Pablo Villegas. “Analysis de la Ley de la Revolucion Productiva.” Presentaciones CEDIB (Cochabamba: CEDIB, 2011).

Pablo Villegas. “^Puede haber Consulta Previa entre la escopeta y las palom as?” Petropress, 22 (2011).

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Zed Books, 2007): 89-120.

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W. Chipana. “El Finpro financiara a 22 sectores para asegurar alimentos y em pleo.” La Razon, Available online: http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Finpro-financiara-sectore sasegurar-alimcntos 0 1560443999.html (February 15, 2012).

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El Opinion. “Morales propone que Bolivia sea pais libre de transgenicos,'".El O pinion, 29 de Abril, (2010).

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indigenas.” Erbol, 28"' o f September (2011). Available Online at:

http://www.erboLcorn.bo/noticia.php?identificador= 2 1474839501.62 Gina Mendia y Guisela Lopez. “ Campesinos en Contra de cultivos transgenicos.” El Deber (2005).

La Razon. Baldwin Montero. “Evo fija 3 metas para el 2025.” La Razon. (La Paz, 7 de Agosto, 2012).



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