Brooke Larson is Professor Emerita of History at Stony Brook University; author of
Enclaves of Acculturation: The North American School Crusade
Scaling up the narrative's scope, chapter 6 examines how postwar US agents of rural development, public health, and education began eyeing Bolivia as a good testing ground for its experiment in the “soft power” of informal empire. Washington's early experiments in rural extension education focused heavily on monitoring behavioral norms and gendered subject-making, in concert with Washington's hemispheric security programs pushing rural development, preemptive social reforms, and anticommunist propaganda. Washington's ambitions to “reorient” Bolivia's public school system in the late 1940s was briefly deterred by Bolivia's revolutionary upheavals in the early 1950s. Yet US aid to rural Bolivian school projects in the mid-to late 1940s provided the preliminary roadmap, cultural technologies, and rural development models that would inspire Bolivia's postrevolutionary efforts to raise up a modern mestizo peasantry.