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Volume 59 / Social Sciences

SOCIOLOGY: BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY


KEVIN J. HEALY, Foundation Representative, Inter-American Foundation, Rosslyn, Virginia


BOLIVIA

RECENT RESEARCH IN BOLIVIA continues to demonstrate a fascination with the impact of ethnicity on contemporary national life, social and political development, and public policy. Ticona and Albo published the third volume of their studies of the altiplano area of Jesus de Machaca, tracing the evolution of local political institutions and related Aymara practices from the l920s through the "decentralization and popular participation" of the mid-l990s (item #bi2001002244#). Insightful new books by Luykx and Arnold, respectively, offer original contributions toward a deeper, much needed analysis of Bolivia's rural educational problems and the promise of utilizing Andean languages and culture. Both these works address the policymakers and founders of the nation's current bilingual and intercultural education reform program. Luykx analyzes the inner workings of a "normal school" (teachers college) in a groundbreaking study, while Arnold develops a thesis about the importance of Andean weavings as "texts" for intercultural educational reform (items #bi2001002216# and #bi2001002402#). Rivera's latest work during this biennium offers a provocative postcolonial interpretation of the 40-year evolution of indigenous peasant (mostly highland) participation in Bolivia's framework of liberal democracy (item #bi 99009877#). Another important contribution comes from Stephenson, whose work in critical literary studies offers many sociological insights. She offers novel interpretations and an eclectic framework for probing the evolving meanings of Andean culture, especially in terms of gender relations (item #bi2001002217#).

Another outstanding contribution this biennium is the work on urban migration by Spedding, Llanos, and Colque. The authors' comparative study of two highland microregions provides an innovative twist to migration research by focusing on the impact of urban migrants on their rural home communities and households (item #bi2001002424#). The book reflects the assistance of PIEB, a critically important social research funding program and one of Bolivia's few sources for underwriting independent and critical social research. During the period under review, the UN Development Fund published several short edited volumes with contributions from leading Bolivian social scientists (item #bi2001002422#). Noteworthy among the research publications reviewed for HLAS 59 is the absence of high quality publications on coca/cocaine in Bolivia, a topic which has been at the storm center of political and US policy controversy for more than a decade.


PARAGUAY

For Paraguay, recent social research publications have been far fewer, both in quantity and quality, than Bolivia, yet some important new contributions are indicated here. The most significant work is an edited volume of contributions from outstanding Paraguayan social scientists examining critical and perplexing political, cultural, social, and economic issues. Many articles show the scholarly rigor and historic depth that result from many years of study (item #bi2001002426#). Palau is a long-term researcher-analyst of Paraguay's agrarian political economy and the economic trends that have led to a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few and the pauperization of the mass of peasant farmers and agricultural workers. Palau makes the case for a radically different agrarian policy that would empower this excluded and marginalized majority (item #bi2002004327#). Fogel, another long-time student of agrarian affairs, takes this analysis of the political economy a step further by examining the peasantry and their nonviolent struggle for social change in recent decades (item #bi2002004328#). Morinigo presents a negative view of Paraguayan urbanization patterns that tend to reflect the urban value system and are gradually reshaping rural culture to the detriment of the national society. According to his study, Paraguay's rural social values are being undermined by the dominant scientific/technological outlook of urban areas.


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