Home Institution

Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Bolivia: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change


Historically, development has been a top-down process in which knowledge and power has been concentrated in international and urban areas, far from the reality of the affected communities. In recent years the Plurinational State of Bolivia has tried to "decolonize" the practice of development within the country to reflect the diverse realities of peoples within their borders. One of the measures the state has taken to implement this vision of development has been the establishment of three indigenous universities to serve rural communities that have been excluded from the generation of knowledge and development practice. The Indigenous higher education system has as its mission the integration of Indigenous and modern knowledge to meet the challenges of sustainable production in Bolivia. I conducted this research project in the UNIBOL Aymara "Tupac Katari" (UNIBOL-A-TK) studying the efforts of administrators, professors and students to build a new Indigenous higher education system based on the principles of intra- and interculturality, communitarianism, productivity and decolonization. Specifically, what makes the Indigenous universities distinct from the traditional system and what implications might this have for development practice in the future? I conclude that Indian higher education of this university has the potential to arm Indigenous youth with multidisciplinary tools to reverse the geography of power within international development and move the centers of knowledge and agency of international development organizations in urban areas and “developed” countries to the local communities in rural areas most affected by development projects.


Growth and Development | Latin American Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies