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Ch’ixi landscapes: Indigeneity and capitalism in the Bolivian Chaco

Anthias, Penelope

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Contemporary debates around the ontological turn have pitted efforts to take indigenous ontologies seriously against demands to make visible the forms of dispossession and environmental suffering that characterize the (post)colonial and capitalist present. Meanwhile, a growing array of governmental projects seeks to identify and protect indigenous ontologies in the face of capitalist development processes, including through forms of collective tenure. How can we make sense of such initiatives, and what kind of territories do they encounter and produce? This paper engages this question ethnographically through an examination of everyday life in a legally recognized Native Community Land in the Bolivian Chaco. Drawing on Bolivian Aymara scholar Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui’s notion of ch’ixi, I argue that indigenous territories are neither ontologically separate from, nor entirely subsumed by, capitalist development processes. Rather, they are subject to multiple land values, ontologies, and investments. A contested indigenous land titling process, capitalist labor relations, hydrocarbon compensation money, and efforts to maintain relations with spirit beings are all interwoven in the fabric of Guaraní everyday life. Such ch’ixi landscapes emerge at the confluence of capitalist efforts at rendering territories investable, governmental efforts at managing dispossession, and Guaraní efforts to maintain life and exercise territorial sovereignty amidst contradictory processes of (post)colonial governmentality.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 24, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 31, 2022
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 82
Pages 268-275
Public URL


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