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Franz Tamayo Solares (1879–1956) was a widely influential politician, public intellectual, and modernist poet whose political activities and sociocultural essays played an important role in a range of public debates during the first half of the twentieth century. Like the works of his contemporary Alcides Arguedas (1879–1946), Tamayo’s best-known writings examined race and nation and particularly the potential for Bolivia’s indigenous majority to participate fully in public life. In The Creation of a National Pedagogy (1910), Tamayo drew from prevailing racial ideologies of the time—which were considered settled by science—to argue for the establishment of a new approach to education in Bolivia. Tamayo, who was himself a mestizo, rejected the dominant belief that Bolivia’s Indians had to be assimilated to a purely European model of cultural development, and instead celebrated the superior advantages of mestizaje, the mixing of people from European and Indian backgrounds. In other sections of his work, he concluded that the mestizo reflects the ideal combination of European rationality and Indian will and fortitude and therefore should form the basis for national culture and political life. But the following passage represents the contradictory “indigenista” aspect of his thinking. Although Tamayo’s use of simplistic racial categories seems antiquated or worse in historical perspective, it was novel at the time to argue that the influence of “Indian blood” in the veins of Bolivia’s population represented the “first step toward true national greatness.”

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