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5642 - ¿El virus en la cabeza¿: New Authority Structures and the Relationship between Chiquitano Comunarios and their Leaders

Since the 1990s, Chiquitano people of Concepción in the Eastern Bolivian Lowlands have increasingly engaged with Bolivian state agencies and non-governmental actors: through their own ethnic social movement and by participating in the state’s decentralised administrative structures. This increased interaction with more hierarchically organised state actors also meant that Chiquitano, who like many other Amazonian people have more egalitarian organisation structures, have adopted more hierarchical organisational forms, especially reflected in the formation of the Chiquitano organisations ( centrales ). While for most Chiquitano their comunidades are the more immediate political, economic and social sphere, their central of has become important to Chiquitano socio-political practices. It fulfils many of the functions that the sub-prefecture and municipality, undertake for non-Chiquitano citizens in the locality, provides legal aid, registers births, organises identification documents and arranges diverse productive and infrastructural projects. The emergence of the central throws up questions with regards to the nature of these new authority structures and the relationship between Chiquitano comunarios and their new leaders. Based on ethnographic data, the paper seeks to address these questions by drawing on the Dan Rosengreen’s (2003) notion of the ‘taproot model’ (hierarchical, or state-like) organisational forms and the ‘rhizomic model’ that more closely describes many Amazonian groups’ modes of self-other distinction. It reveals that some of the challenges faced by leaders and comunarios stem from frictions between the two organisational structures, while another set of disparities arises because leaders increasingly take up state and NGO promoted neoliberal multicultural agendas for the transformation of Chiquitano socio-economic practices and organisational forms. This, in turn, reveals the paradoxes faced by the indigenous centrales . While their formation partly responded to the demands for the recognition of existing Chiquitano customs and institutions, to have access to rights and resources, leaders increasingly support governmental and non-governmental agendas aimed at the transformation of these structures.

Palabras claves: Key Words: Chiquitano, ethnic movements., Bolivian lowlands, leadership practices

Autores: Weber, Katinka (University of Liverpool, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)

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