Brooke Larson is Professor Emerita of History at Stony Brook University; author of
To Civilize the Indian: Contested Pedagogies of Race and Nation
Anchored in La Paz during the early 1900s, chapter 1 lays the foundations of internal colonialism as the city of La Paz transformed into an internal metropole intent on expanding the liberal oligarchic state into the rural Aymara hinterlands. It explores how Bolivian statesmen, scientists, and pedagogues diagnosed the “Indian problem” and tried to craft public school reform (governed by a racialized “national pedagogy”) to solve it. Debates were colored by theories and schemes advancing the civilizers' goals of Indian racial uplift and cultural assimilation, agricultural workforce training, and the inculcation of good habits and hygiene. By 1920, Bolivia's official pedagogy for the Indian had settled on a contradictory logic of racial assimilation and labor subjugation: Indian youth would be trained in farm-schools that would civilize them and train them as efficient farmhands. This geo-racial logic would rationalize Bolivia's discriminatory state policies toward rural education for the next half century.