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In 2005, Bolivians elected their first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Ushering in a new “democratic cultural revolution,” Morales promised to overturn neoliberalism and inaugurate a new decolonized society. In this crucial new book, Nancy Postero examines the successes and failures in the ten years since Morales’s election. While the Morales government has made many changes that have positively benefited Boliva’s majority indigenous population, it has consolidated power and reinforced extractivist development models. In the process, indigeneity has been transformed from a site of emancipatory politics to a site of liberal nation-state building. By carefully tracing the political origins and practices of decolonization among activists, government administrators, and ordinary citizens, Postero makes an important contribution to our understanding of the meaning and impact of Bolivia’s indigenous state.
Nancy Postero is Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Now We Are Citizens: Indigenous Politics in Post-Multicultural Bolivia.
"Postero's The Indigenous State provides multiple new insights on the Bolivian state in the time of President Evo Morales. As such, it is a must-read for scholars and students interested in the recent political and cultural history of the country. The book counters simplistic readings of political developments in the country over the last decade. It recognizes that despite claims of revolution, a process of change and socialism for the twenty-first century, Bolivia remains—despite the appearance of new political personalities—entrenched in earlier logics of clientelism, state sovereignty, and modernist ideas of development. A national celebration of indigeneity is furthermore revealed not to affirm the vibrancy of the country's ethnic foundations, but instead as a discourse that in recent years has been used by the Morales administration as a mechanism of public discipline and control." —John Andrew McNeish, Professor of International Development and Environmental Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences