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NCCR North-South - Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development


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Traspatios 02: Revista de ciencias sociales - La transformacion del estado y del campo politico en Bolivia

Traspatios 02: Revista de ciencias sociales - La transformacion del estado y del campo politico en Bolivia

Stephan Rist, Freddy Delgado, 2011

This article is based on 35 interviews and conversations with members of Agruco, representatives of Cochabamba’s public university, Bolivian government officials, members of indigenous social movements, and staff of NGOs and international development cooperation organisations. It outlines the main challenges for higher education in light of the radical transformations taking place in Bolivian society following implementation of a new constitution.
The authors discuss how reconfiguring the relationship between indigenous nations and the plurinational state of Bolivia requires rethinking the national university system. This includes taking into account the need to recover cognitive and intellectual sovereignty over processes of knowledge production, reflecting the overall societal processes of restoring sovereignty and autonomy that are underway.
Research shows that transdisciplinary approaches bear great potential for institutional reform. Applying a transdisciplinary approach in Bolivia would help to identify the conditions required to convert the local universities into places of knowledge co-production, incorporating academic and non-academic actors involved in processes of societal transformation. Specifically, transdisciplinarity would enable integration of the three main strands of thought driving local change: (1) a critical revision of orthodox Marxist and left-wing theories designed to reinvigorate rural and urban-dwelling indigenous people’s contributions to the transformation of Bolivia into a capitalist society oriented towards what Garcia Linera calls "communitarian socialism"; (2) new interpretative patterns such as "vivir bien" or the idea of acknowledging the "rights of Pachamama-Mother Earth", which are emerging from indigenous non-academic actors such as David Choquehuanca and Simon Yampara; and (3) new post-materialist epistemologies emerging from quantum physics, Gaia theory, or the intercultural dialogue between western and non-western cultures as proposed by Hans Peter Dürr, Lovelock, or Wilber.

Download article (Spanish / PDF 8.4 MB)

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