Collective Agency and Living Well - Activism, community involvement and poetics in El Alto, Bolivia
AuthorOltedal, Ane Lyngstad
Demonstrations, communal discussions and resistance are everyday matters in the Bolivian highland city of El Alto. It took on a whole new dimension in October 2003 when thousands of protesters took to the streets in this city, demanding control of Bolivia’s gas resources. Two presidents had to withdraw, leading up to the historic victory of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales who won on a platform of nationalization and constitutional reform. From that moment, the people of El Alto knew that their actions mattered. 2003 strengthened the sense of collective agency that people in El Alto already had an experience of. Although to a very varied degree, most El Alto citizens are somehow affected by the city’s revolutionary discourse and continued practices of political-social communal activities. The case studies in this thesis are two El Alto citizens who are both actively engaged in politics and in their communities. I argue that part of what helps active alteños reproduce a sense of collective agency is poetical performances of the El Alto self focusing on a strong us against powerful others, coupled with active engagement in collectivities. I also look at what such a high sense of collective agency may do for those who experience it. I argue that the El Alto activism and communal involvement may on the one hand be seen as a fight for Suma Qamaña – Living Well, but that it also in itself in fact is a way of living well.
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PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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