Settler colonialism, knowledge articulation, and the politics of development in the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park in Amazonian Bolivia
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This thesis examines how the dispute over the Bolivian government’s plan to construct a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park in Amazonian Bolivia crystallizes the divergent visions and politics at play in realizing development projects in the TIPNIS. While progressive indigenous and environmental rights were inscribed in the 2009 Bolivian constitution, I argue that the government’s plan to impose the TIPNIS highway is a settler colonial project to dispossess the TIPNIS communities of their lands. This is facilitated by a national government—civilian colonist complicity that undermines the TIPNIS sovereignty and brings the TIPNIS territory under increasing governance and regulation under a post-frontier governance regime. I furthermore employ a framework I call knowledge articulation to examine the struggles of different actors to resist and/or implement varying development visions, which sometimes overlap and at other times compete with each other, in the TIPNIS. All of these projects demonstrate that the Bolivian decolonial path is fundamentally an amalgam: articulated knowledges, hybrid economies, and development outcomes that are resisted, contested, and negotiated configurations of various actors’ uneven authority, expertise and power.