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Volume 58 / Humanities

HISTORY: SPANISH SOUTH AMERICA


19th and 20th Centuries: Bolivia

ERICK D. LANGER, Professor of History, Georgetown University


OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, the 19th century has increasingly become a legitimate period of research in Bolivian history. New contributions for the independence era continue to appear (items #bi 98010788# and #bi 97011887#), as well as the reproduction of El Cóndor de Bolivia, Bolivia's first newspaper (item #bi 97011874#). Controversy swirled in particular around one book: In La mesa coja, Javier Mendoza asserts that the independence revolution in La Paz was not as radical as first believed and that the presumed revolutionary declaration was apocryphal (item #bi 98010788#). The document was put together in the late-19th century as a way for the La Paz elites to claim primacy over the constitutional capital, Sucre. For months in 1997, this book was the focus of many newspaper articles in the Bolivian press.

The insights gained in the last decade redefining 19th-century Bolivia have finally taken root (for example, items #bi 96006768# and #bi 96006775#). Political history focuses on the debate over protectionism and internal markets, which has become an important touchstone for understanding the economic dynamics of the century. The rising interest in Manuel Isidoro Belzu, a controversial 19th-century caudillo who implemented protectionist policies, demonstrates this development most clearly (items #bi 98010782#, #bi96024133#, and #bi 99004852#). Meanwhile, land tenure patterns continue to stimulate debate (items #bi 96006771#, #bi 98010784#, and #bi 99004837#), as does the role of indigenous communities in Bolivian history, ranging from understanding the conceptual basis of the treatment of indigenous peoples to indigenous education and hereditary rights (items #bi 98010782#, #bi 97011912#, #bi 99004756##bi 98010783#, and #bi 98010781#).

Another popular topic in this chapter (not restricted to the 19th century) is mining, including studies on both the mining companies and owners (items #bi 97011833# and #bi 96010096#) and on the workers themselves (items #bi 96006575#, #bi 98010780#, and #bi 99004762#). The publication of the complete works of long-time labor activist and scholar, Guillermo Lora, will be an important source of 20th-century labor history (item #bi 97012919#). Political history received a boost from the vigorous publication record of Marta Irurozqui (items #bi 97011882#, #bi 97008059#, and #bi 98010783#), as well as from publications of more established scholars such as Roberto Querejazu Calvo (item #bi 97011903#) and Ferran Gallego (item #bi 96018473#).

The Catholic Church merits greater attention, both as an institution (item #bi 98010777#) and with regard to the missions (items #bi 99004776# and #bi 99004837#). However, the history of the vast tropical lowlands, despite some interesting contributions, remains woefully under- represented (items #bi 97011901# and #bi 95012474#).


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