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Sue Iamamoto - Memories of Warfare in Contemporary Bolivia

 Sue Iamamoto - Memories of Warfare in Contemporary Bolivia

Sue Iamamoto, PhD Candidate

Primary Supervisor: Professor James Dunkerley

Since my MA research, undertaken in the Department of Political Science of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, I have been studying the dynamics between social rebellions and national identity in Bolivia. With this objective, I came to Queen Mary in 2011 to pursue a PhD degree in Politics. I chose Queen Mary  because the university offered me the opportunity to work with  high level academic staff and the ability to research my combined interests in Latin American politics, nationalism, warfare studies and collective memories.

During the MA, I studied the different discourses on nationhood during the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly in 2007, which set the basis of the constitutionalisation of a Plurinational State (a Portuguese version of the MA thesis can be found here).

It was a moment of reframing the idea of the Bolivian nation, following a period of intense social struggles demanding popular control of natural resources (such as natural gas and water) and a better representation of the indigenous majority in the political arena. This period covered the first few years of this century, from 2000 to 2005.

My current research investigates the discourses of nationhood that boosted the social struggles during those years, paying particular attention to how past rebellions and wars (ie: the National Revolution in 1952, the Chaco War in the 1930s, the Pacific War in the nineteenth century) were read during this new political context. On a broader level, it explores the role of collective memories of those events in framing the way a society relates to its state.

Regarding its methodology, the research includes thirteen months of fieldwork in Bolivia (October 2012 to November 2013), which combines archive research, participant observation, and interviews with social activists. It will compare regions particularly active between 2000 and 2005: neighbourhoods, syndicates and rural communities in the cities of El Alto, Achacachi and Potosí.

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