As director of the Interamerican Indian Institute, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán has committed that organization to a large-scale program of publishing reports on social science research concerned with surviving Indian populations in the Americas. The Institute has emerged in recent years as a major publisher of research findings on rural people in Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. Since rural Mexico had already been extensively reported upon, the Institute publications have contributed proportionately more to scientific knowledge of Indian life in South America than in Mesoamerica. The four books reviewed here constitute a very significant addition to the total social science literature about Bolivia, and comprise one-third of the Institute’s social anthropology series to the time of publication. They also illustrate the efficacy of Aguirre Beltrán’s aggressive publishing policy in making available to intellectuals who read Spanish the results of studies that in the past would all too often have been published in obscure ways or not at all or in other languages.
The first of these four monographs published by the Institute, Olen E. Leonard’s study of four Altiplano communities, is a Spanish translation of an English report. Leonard has already published a general analysis of Bolivian society (Bolivia, Land, People, and Institutions, 1952), as well as a monograph on one canton, and has served as sociologist with one of the international agencies active in Bolivian rural development. Thus he could couch his study of Quechua-speaking Otavi and Lecori in Potosí Department and Aymara-speaking Pillapi and Yanamani near Lake Titicaca in terms of a diachronic analysis of cultural change. Theorists of rural development who see peasants as relatively incapable of deferring gratification will do well to ponder one of Leonard’s findings. He describes adults in these four settlements as anticipating significant change for their children and standing ready to work and invest to achieve it, especially in formal education.
The second monograph to be published by the Institute is Carter’s study of the consequences of agrarian reform in an Aymara-speaking rural zone. It was originally issued in English by the University of Florida Press. Carter sees a new level of sociocultural integration of Aymara-speakers in Bolivian society stemming more from formal education—which was just penetrating Aymara territory at the time of his study—than from land tenure shifts.
The third monograph published by the Institute is Dandler’s study of structural changes in Ucureña, a small ranchería in the Cochabamba Valley that became the precursor of radical land redistribution after the 1952 revolution. In this instance, the Institute has made available in Spanish a Master of Arts thesis in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) presented in English. Dandler emphasizes union organization and formal education as necessary antecedents to reform in Ucureña.
The latest monograph published in this group on Bolivia in Sŏlc’s ethnographic account of the Aymara Indians living on islands in Lake Titicaca. The Institute in this case republished a descriptive work first printed in Europe.
The four monographs document an interesting paradox in selection of problems for investigation. Leonard, Carter and Dandler, all from the capitalistic West, treat in general the analysis of social change and in particular the consequences of increasing the measure of social justice in Bolivian land tenure. All find formal education fundamental to change. Sŏlc, the Czech, has produced a conventional descriptive ethnography with distinctly antiquarian overtones. Perhaps his concern with fishing technology reflects the influence of Morgan-Marx-Engels evolutionary theory, but such influence is exceedingly difficult to detect. Antiquarianism may be a safer approach than analyzing agrarian reform for a social scientist from a nation itself in the throes of socialist reformulation.
Attractively bound in bright paper covers (black and red, purple, green and yellow) these social anthropology monographs are priced within reach of most interested Latin American intellectuals.