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Volume 62 / Humanities

HISTORY: 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES


Bolivia

ERICK D. LANGER, Professor of History, Georgetown University

THE SERIES OF POLITICAL CRISES in the first years of the 21st century have severely hampered publishing efforts in the history of Bolivia, though at some point this turmoil will become the grist of other scholars' mills. However, for this period, publishing in the traditional center of the Bolivian book industry, La Paz, has suffered considerably. The only bright spot is the notable increase in studies dealing with the Bolivian lowlands, both in quantity and quality. Bibliographic production for this period can be divided into four major categories: the 19th century, indigenous history, the history of the lowlands, and 20th-century political history.

Two articles deal with independence figures, one a patriot (item #bi2003000434#) and another a royalist general (item #bi2005000175#). We can celebrate the publication of translations of two of the most important early-19th-century French scientists, François de Castelnau (item #bi2003004945#) and Alcides D'Orbigny, complemented by a study by Juan Albarracín Millán on the importance to nation-state formation of the latter (item #bi2005000166#). The mining economy remains an important topic, as demonstrated by the publication of a reprint of Ramiro Condarco Morales' 1985 magisterial biography of magnate and president Aniceto Arce (item #bi2003004960#) and two publications from the last biennium by Carmen Gloria Bravo on the Caracoles silver boom of the 1870s (see HLAS 60:2641 and 2642). The late Roberto Arce's long-awaited book on Bolivian mining also fits within this rubric, though it also covers the colonial period and the 20th century (item #bi2005000162#).

Given the strength of the indigenous movement in present-day Bolivia, it is odd that relatively little has been published on this topic, though it remains a major field in Bolivian history. Marta Irurozqui continues her work on showing how indigenous movements and citizenship evolved in the 19th century, with a take on the discourses involved in the 1870 Indian rebellion against Melgarejo (item #bi2002005296#; also repeated in item #bi2005000171#). Some work is beginning to appear on the 1899 Aymara Indian rebellion, such as Pilar Mendieta Parada's comparison of the Federalist War with two previous Indian rebellions (item #bi2003004937#) and a compendium of documents on the Federalist War by Alberto Rodríguez Forest (item #bi2003004935#). Brooke Larson's impressive book on Indian identity and state-making in the 19th-century Andes (Trials of Nation-Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910, item #bi2006001767#) provides a context as well, with its chapter on Bolivia (p. 202–245).

The history of the Bolivian lowlands has finally taken off. Two major works redefine the history of the lowlands, including José Luís Roca's (item #bi2003004943#) and one on the construction of identity in Santa Cruz by a number of young cruceño scholars (item #bi2005000179#). In addition, Pilar García Jordán's book comparing Peruvian and Bolivian frontier policies (see Cruz y arado, fusiles y discursos: La construcción de los Orientes en el Perú y Bolivia, 1820–1940 (item #bi2006003946#) are major advances. There are also new works on the exploration of Acre (item #bi2002005830#) and of the regionalist movements in Santa Cruz (item #bi2003004955#) that are noteworthy.

Women's history continues to take small but important steps. Beatriz Rossells and Luís Oporto Ordoñez have edited important documentary volumes on women in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively (items #bi2005000185# and #bi2003004948#). Laura Gotkowitz uses slander cases to understand socioeconomic change in Cochabamba with a gendered twist (item #bi2004001676#).

The political history of the 20th century remains an important topic, most of all that of the 1952 Revolution and its protagonists. Most important in this regard is Proclaiming Revolution, a volume edited by Merilee Grindle and Pilar Domingo, with important contributions by a host of Bolivian, US, and European scholars evaluating the legacy of the Revolution (item #bi2005002110#). Andrei Schelchkov shows how deeply the nationalist parties (including the MNR and its major figures) were influenced by totalitarian ideas (item #bi2003000436#). Most, however, bask in the glow of heroic memories, such as the compendium of works directed by various Cajías sisters (items #bi2003004797# and #bi2003004798#) or the autobiographies of major figures, those of Walter Guevara Arze (item #bi2005000176#) and Juan Lechín Oquendo (item #bi2005000180#). Only the oral history of the Cochabamba labor movement in the 1950s shows how the MNR marginalized political groups that did not conform to MNR policies. Otherwise, the unauthorized biography of the Bolivian dictator and later democratically elected Hugo Banzer is notable (item #bi2003004941#).


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