Good Living for Whom? Bolivia’s Climate Justice Movement and the Limitations of Indigenous Cosmovisions

Nicole Fabricant

Climate change has become an important issue in Bolivia as communities across the lowlands and highlands are beginning to feel the direct effects of the ecological crisis. While Evo Morales, the current president of Bolivia, has surfaced as an international superstar for the climate justice movement, behind his public appearances at UN climate conferences are indigenous organizations and social movements who work daily to map out strategies for adaptation and mitigation. This paper analyzes how indigenous climate justice activists in Bolivia mobilize a particular vision of Andean indigeneity, frozen in time and space, to make specific political claims about their rights in relationship to the environment and propose alternative economic structures. Many activists argue that the ecological problems of this century are a direct result of advanced capitalism, which has turned lands, forests, and natural surrounds into commodities. However, their timeless vision of indigeneity, particularly using the imagined ayllu or pre-Columbian land-holding patterns as solutions to climate crisis, poses dangers for the millions of Bolivians who live and work in urban centers.

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