After centuries of colonial domination and a twentieth century riddled with dictatorships, indigenous peoples in Bolivia embarked upon a social and political struggle that would change the country forever. As part of that project activists took control of their own history, starting in the 1960s by reaching back to oral traditions and then forward to new forms of print and broadcast media. This book tells the fascinating story of how indigenous Bolivians recovered and popularized histories of past rebellions, political models, and leaders, using them to build movements for rights, land, autonomy, and political power. Drawing from rich archival sources and the author’s lively interviews with indigenous leaders and activist-historians, The Five Hundred Year Rebellion describes how movements tapped into centuries-old veins of oral history and memory to produce manifestos, booklets, and radio programs on histories of resistance, wielding them as tools to expand their struggles and radically transform society.
"Ethnographic history at its very best! Historian, writer, and activist, Ben Dangl offers a sweeping historical narrative that explores, in fascinating detail and crystalline prose, how Bolivia’s resurgent Indian movements bundled history, myth, and memory into powerful narratives, testimonios, pedagogies, and performances of native resistance and decolonization -- laying the cultural groundwork for Aymara-Quechua coalitions to arise and challenge Bolivia’s neocolonial political culture and repressive political regimes during the late twentieth century. Cliché though it is, this is a 'must-read' book for all scholars and students looking for a clear road map through the thickets of critical theory and political history towards a clear understanding of the cultural origins and epistemic complexities of ethnic politics and consciousness in the Bolivian Andes." —Brooke Larson, author of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910
"Memory as a vision of the future, language as a tool of resistance, oral history as a form of struggle: Dangl gives us a brilliant, in-depth narrative of centuries of resistance grounded in culture. This is a story we should all know and learn from." —Alessandro Portelli, author of They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History
About the Author
Benjamin Dangl has a PhD in Latin American history from McGill University and has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America for over fifteen years, covering politics and protest movements for outlets such as The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Nation, Salon, Vice, and NACLA Report on the Americas. He is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia and Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, both published by AK Press. Dangl edits TowardFreedom.org, a progressive perspective on world events, and teaches at Champlain College.