Neo-Extractivism, the Bolivian State, and Indigenous Peasant Women’s Struggles for Water in the Altiplano

Citation:

Rodriguez Fernandez, Gisela V. 2020. “Neo-Extractivism, the Bolivian State, and Indigenous Peasant Women’s Struggles for Water in the Altiplano.” Human Geography 13 (1): 27–39. 

Author: Gisela V. Rodriguez Fernandez

Abstract:

SPANISH ABSTRACT: 
Al perseguir el progreso y el crecimiento económico, el estado boliviano liderado por el presidente Evo Morales reprodujo la división colonial del trabajo a través de un modelo de desarrollo conocido como neo-extractivismo. Las tensiones arraigadas entre las comunidades indígenas y el estado surgieron debido al fuerte vínculo económico de este último con el sector extractivista. Si bien la economía política del neo-extractivismose ha estudiado considerablemente, la forma en que tales tensiones afectan las relaciones sociopolíticas en las intersecciones de clase, raza y género no se ha explorado y ni teorizado mucho. Para abordar esta brecha de investigación, este estudio cualitativo planteó las siguientes preguntas de investigación: ¿Cómo crea el neo-extractivismo formas inequitativas de género de acumulación por desposesión? ¿Y qué formas de resistencia surgen para desafiar el impacto del neo-extractivismo entre las comunidades indígenas? Al analizar los procesos de reproducción social en Oruro, Bolivia, este estudio muestra que el neo-extractivismo conduce al despojo de tierras indígenas y formas de vida indígenas principalmente a través de la contaminación del agua. Debido a que las mujeres campesinas indígenas son productoras de subsistencia y reproductoras sociales cuyas actividades se centran en el agua, el despojo del agua tiene un efecto más grave y de género en ellas. Sin embargo, las mujeres indígenas y sus comunidades no están ociosas. Han surgido resistencias contra el neo-extractivismo. Paralelamente, las responsabilidades cotidianas de la reproducción social en el contexto de la agricultura de subsistencia, que están integradas en los epistemas andinos de reciprocidad, han permitido a las mujeres campesinas indígenas construir redes de solidaridad que mantienen vivo el tejido social dentro y entre las comunidades. Estas redes de solidaridad proporcionan importantes recursos sociopolíticos que son sitios de resistencias cotidianas que representan una amenaza continua y una alternativa a los mandatos capitalistas, coloniales y patriarcales.
 
ENGLISH ABSTRACT:
In pursuing progress and economic growth, the Bolivian state led by President Evo Morales replicated the colonial division of labor through a development model known as neo-extractivism. Rooted tensions between indigenous communities and the state emerged due to the latter’s zealous economic bond with the extractivist sector. While the political economy of neo-extractivism has been considerably studied, how such tensions affect socio-political relations at the intersections of class, race, and gender remains underexplored and undertheorized. To address this research gap, this qualitative study posed the following research questions: How does neo-extractivism create gendered forms of accumulation by dispossession? And what forms of resistance emerge to challenge the impact of neo-extractivism among indigenous communities? By analyzing processes of social reproduction in Oruro, Bolivia, this study shows that neo-extractivism leads to the dispossession of indigenous lands and indigenous ways of life mainly through the contamination of water. Because indigenous peasant women are subsistence producers and social reproducers whose activities are water centric, the dispossession of water has a direr and gendered effect on them. Indigenous women and their communities, however, are not idle. Resistances against neo-extractivism have emerged. In parallel, the daily responsibilities of social reproduction within the context of subsistence agriculture, which are embedded in Andean epistemes of reciprocity, have allowed indigenous peasant women to build solidarity networks that keep the social fabric within and between communities alive. These solidarity networks provide important socio-political resources that are sites of everyday resistances that represent an ongoing threat and an alternative to capitalist, colonial, and patriarchal mandates.

Keywords: extractivism, Bolivia, indigenous, women, resistance, extractivismo, mujeres indígenas, resistencia

Topics: Development, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights, Indigenous Rights, Land Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia

Year: 2020

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