Becoming State: Narratives of Desubalternization

Anne Freeland


This paper considers a series of historical processes of (successful or failed) emergence of collective subjects into the sphere of the state in Latin America, and the narratives that are constructed of these processes within the discourse of intellectuals as well as that of the state and its cultural organs. With a focus on Bolivia but contextualized within broader regional historical moments, I highlight indigenous uprisings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the National Revolution of 1952, and finally, the creation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the movement that led to Evo Morales’s electoral victory in 2005. In looking at these moments together, I hope to shed light on some of the continuities and singularities of such instances of the constitution of power, the production of historical memory, and finally, the operation of the theoretical categories through which these histories are represented in Latin Americanist thought: subalternity, the national-popular, constituent power, etc. The analysis engages substantially with Latin American critical Marxist theory, and draws on a Gramscian conception of the construction hegemony.

subalternity - hegemony - state - Bolivia - Latin America - Gramsci