The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
With her sustained critique of internal colonialism and patriarchy, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui has been one of Bolivia’s most incisive public intellectuals in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Her influential study “Oppressed but Not Defeated” (1984) tells the history of Aymara and Quechua peasant struggles during the twentieth century and was written as the militant peasant union movement had burst on the scene as a national political force. The movement’s strength derived in part from a complex historical consciousness that Rivera creatively analyzed in terms of short-term and long-term horizons of memory. Especially in the Cochabamba valleys, union struggles from the mid-twentieth century and the agrarian reform of 1953 shaped peasant consciousness, mobilization, and relations with the state. In the Aymara highlands, the anticolonial struggle headed by Tupaj Katari in the eighteenth century increasingly became the symbolic font of inspiration for katarismo. The lucid conclusion to her book, presented here, anticipated powerful decolonizing aspirations in the twenty-first century.