Qullasuyu Nationalism, Alternative Modernity, and Multi-focal Public Audiences: Bolivia’s AMP Indigenous Intellectuals Gregorio Titiriku and Rosa Ramos, 1921–64

Friday, January 2, 2009: 1:00 PM
New York Ballroom East (Sheraton New York)
Waskar T. Ari-Chachaki , University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Lincoln, NV
In 1921, when hard-line Liberal regimes ended in Bolivia, Gregorio Titiriku, a Uru-Aymara Indian from the shores of lake Titikaka, and Rosa Ramos, a street seller from the marginal areas of La Paz, started both a marriage and a life of 30 years of Indian intellectual activism among the Alcaldes Mayores Particulares (AMP)-- a 450 cell network of indigenous intellectuals. Ramos and Titiriku struggled against internal colonialism and were crucial participants in the making of AMP ethnic nationalism. The AMP promoted gender parity, inspired in traditional ideas of women and men and in early twentieth-century Indian ideologies. Titiriku's and Ramos's ideas were a crucial part of AMP discourse, known during this time as Indian Law. It promoted the worship of Pachamama (mother earth) and Achachillas (the spirit of the grandparents in the high hills of the Andes). AMP discourse sought to rename of the nation of qullas (currently known as Aymara-Quechuas). Titiriku was especially good at creating ideas for mobilization among the AMP, such as “qullasuyun wawapa”--the children of the qulla tribes—in order to promote ethnic pride, and “bayeta camisas”-- people who dress in “bayeta” in order to promote an Indian code dress as a politics of identity. These ideas provide us with a privileged field for the understanding of the relationship between alternative modernity and public spheres. Titiriku and Ramos thus used AMP discourse to contest segregation and resist mainstream civilization projects. The particularities of the Indian Law and its strategic ethnic nationalism reveals the existence of alternative discourses of modernity largely forgotten in Bolivia. The analysis of AMP discourse helps us understand the longstanding presence of autonomy and hegemony projects in Bolivia and provides us with a better comprehension of how internal colonialism and public audiences interact historically.
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