Indigenous language regimentation in Bolivia is traced through historical legal documents and contemporary transformations. While state language policy is often fragmented and improvisational, non-state linguistic activist networks have taken an increasingly significant role in shaping state policy. Under the government of Evo Morales, explicit state measures to preserve and develop Indigenous languages are discussed as incipient shifts toward a more decolonizing mose of language regimentation. It remains to be seen whether the new state position will lay the groundwork for robust language revitalization at the level of Indigenous language communities.
Bret Gustafson is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in st. Louis. His research and teaching focus on political anthropology, the anthropology of the state, and Latin America. He received a BA from Tulane and a PhD from Harvard University. His first book, New Language of the State, published by Duke Press examined the politics of bilingulaism in the context of Bolivia's neoliberal education reform. He is currently working on two projects, one, a social history of the Guarani language in Bolivia, the second, a book on the impacts of natural gas development in Bolivia.
Presented in collaboration with ROC at NYU