Earth Politics focuses on the lives of four indigeus activist-intellectuals in Bolivia, key leaders in the Alcaldes Mayores Particulares (AMP), a movement established to claim rights for indigeus education and reclaim indigeus lands from hacienda owners. The AMP leaders invented a discourse of decolonization, rooted in part in native religion, and used it to counter structures of internal colonialism, including the existing racial systems. Waskar Ari calls their social movement, practices, and discourse earth politics, both because the AMP emphasized the idea of the earth and the place of Indians on it, and because of the political meaning that the AMP gave to the worship of the Aymara gods. Depicting the social worlds and life work of the activists, Ari traverses Bolivia's political and social landscape from the 1920s into the early 1970s. He reveals the AMP 's extensive geographic reach, genuine grassroots quality, and vibrant regional diversity. Ari had access to the private archives of indigeus families, and he collected oral histories, speaking with men and women who knew the AMP leaders. The resulting examination of Bolivian indigeus activism is one of unparalleled nuance and depth.
Waskar Ari is Assistant Professor of History and Ethnic Studies/Latin American Studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.