Daily Archives: October 8, 2014

Bolivian miscegenation and its dilemmas

H.C.F. Mansilla writes superbly in El Dia:

Miscegenation and its dilemmas

HCF MansillaThe contrast between mestizaje and indianism that characterizes many public discussions should be relativized in view of the historical experiences and events of recent years in Bolivia. This hidden controversy, as is usual in social phenomena of the most various kinds, which are usually not clearly named as power games and the needs it has any scheme to manipulate, even partially, to the public. Today the collective and private lives of Bolivians is marked by varied ethno-cultural mixtures. Our history as almost any other ─ can be seen as an endless series of phenomena of miscegenation and acculturation. This is, moreover, a sure sign of modernity, which, among other things, is an open attitude to the world and therefore inclined to accept various mixtures and contacts of all kinds, including, of course, the family sphere, aesthetic and erotic.

From this specific position denying any fusion suggests a conservative bias, that yearns to preserve the purity of blood and the effect of intact traditions which are long-standing, and also rejects openness to the world and combinations of ethnicities and cultures. In this context the term conservative meant the preservation of routines that provide emotional security and maintenance of conventions that seem to guarantee a collective identity, which has become precarious because of the force of modernity. The precursor of Indianism, Fausto Reinaga, which is the foundation of current official theories of decolonizing, said: “The mestizo is a species without God, without language, without land, no past, no present, no tomorrow. (…) The only thing he has is his own hatred. Hate stuck in his heart and brain. He hates his blood; hates his Indian mother. “It is not unlike the core of genuinely conservative thought in Bolivia, extending over the last hundred years from Franz Tamayo until Javier Sanjinés. They are very popular theories and social images, that is, deeply rooted in Bolivian collective mentality. But despite its wide acceptance, these views are anachronistic in today’s highly interconnected and subject to changing values ​​of orientation.

The opposition to miscegenation is probably doomed to failure because some empirical-pragmatic factors. One could assert that successful societies have been those who have experienced a relatively high number of acculturation. Human groups that have had only minimal ethno-cultural, as the Australian Aborigines, Eskimos mixtures of northern Canada or some isolated tribes of the Amazon region have not generated democratic procedures in the political nor technical and economic progress, they have inspired adaptations and imitations in the rest of humanity. The civilizational models who were born in the margins of the Mediterranean Sea have been known for a very high number of ethno-cultural mixtures and at the same time, have produced philosophical systems and institutional projects that have later proved to have a practical acceptance.

Trying to return to a previous acculturation entire identity is, therefore, a vain and ephemeral effort, but has many sympathies in contemporary Bolivia. Almost all the farmers and rural communities in the Andean region are from long ago undergone acculturation, hybridity and modernization, which has led to the breakdown of their original ancestral worldview and values ​​orientation. The same applies to the recently developed indigenous groups whose demographic importance is enormous. In discussing crossbreeding is important to draw attention to the deterioration of the normative values ​​of rural-peasant particularistic origin and universalistic replacement by Western standards. The processes by which contemporary Bolivia has been influenced by Western metropolitan culture, are innumerable, daily and persistent. The country is now simply unthinkable without the technological, scientific, medical, logistical and institutional modernity, which is perceived as superior with respect to the pre-modern society. In recent decades, the most common has been a symbiosis between traditional elements and from modern civilization.

In the present indigenous probably crave a modernized social order similar to that claim all other social groups in the country: efficient public services, free quality school system, access to the market in good condition, improved roads and communications and television entertainment . It is even plausible that the Indians will gradually be abandoning the two pillars of their collective identity: the land and the language. For much of the descendants of the peasants want city professions and the prevailing use of Castilian [Spanish] (and English). The original inhabitants are not very concerned with what may be called the identifying core of culture itself, but act pragmatically in two areas: in the adoption of the most outstanding features of so-called material progress and the ambivalent treatment of their ancestral nests, exactly who are losing their political and moral ascendancy to the advance of modern civilization. Thus theories of decolonization and radical indianismo (as the proposed by Fausto Reinaga) are losing their real target and therefore reduces its doctrinal relevance. The result will certainly be a syncretic civilization, as has been the repeated experience of world history and specifically in the New World. This syncretistic culture predominates today in urban areas, which is the majority in the country.

* Writer, philosopher and political scientist


A clear concept that trashes the demagogue speech of the masismo.