Category: Identity and Society

Medical Practices in Bolivia

On the sixth floor of an older building in La Paz is a small office with a modest sign printed on standard computer paper. The dim light in the narrow hallway makes it difficult for me to read the sign. I notice a poster on the door advertising the “Primer Encuentro Nacional de Plantas Medicinales de Bolivia,” the First National Meeting on Bolivian Medicinal Plants, held in December 2010 under the sponsorship of this office. …


In October 2003, a tumultuous indigenous and popular uprising brought down the government of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, following a massacre that cut short the lives of 67 people in El Alto and the provinces of La Paz. The so-called “gas war” was one of the climaxes of popular protests that had begun in 2000 with the “water war” of February—April in Cochabamba and the indigenous …

Bolivian Women

When Evo Morales was first elected to office, he was asked if he would make a ministry for gender. He responded that he would not and that instead he would make women themselves ministers. Various women’s organizations criticized his decision at the time yet his play on words proved to be true: in 2011, half of the twenty ministers in his cabinet are women, an unprecedented development for Bolivia….

Regional Identities

English + EspañolEveryone thinks of Bolivia as an Andean country, even though two thirds of it lies in the lowlands. This area, also known as the Bolivian Orient, is inhabited by more than thirty indigenous nations of diverse languages, though the majority of its population is mestizo—a mix of indigenous and Spanish-descent. The Bolivian Orient belongs to the ancient colonial territory of the Santa Cruz Provincial …

El Alto in Flux

English + EspañolWhen I passed through El Alto de La Paz for the first time in 1954, I didn’t even notice. The city—just a few minutes outside of La Paz—consisted of just a few little houses and market stalls at the end of the immense altiplano. La Ceja (the “eyebrow”), reaching some 13,500 feet into the air, suddenly tumbles down toward the river and the city of La Paz, about a thousand feet lower, as if it were …


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