PhD defence: Amazonian Alternatives. Imagining and Negotiating Development in Lowland Bolivia

PhD defence

Lisbet Christoffersen


Modernising development disembeds social life from the local context, contributing to the separation of man from nature. At a global scale, that dichotomy has proven disastrously counterproductive regarding consequences of natural–social phenomena, and has generated major social and economic disparities. In Bolivia, the government, despite a radical environmentalist discourse, bases its economy on continued and scaled-up extractivism. This thesis explores how indigenous peoples in the Bolivian Amazon imagine and negotiate development that counters the dichotomy. It contributes with insights on how they, through their daily livelihood practices, and social and political activities, suggest an alternative development for Bolivia, while creating places that remain distinctively indigenous. I argue that the lowland peoples,historically and today, have pursued development directions that would ensure their own control with socio-economic matters, and that their proactive efforts can be understood as practised decoloniality. They propose a development direction diametrically opposite that of the contemporary government. Where the government aims to centralise the state and integrate lowland indigenous territories in their national development plans, the lowland peoples, supported by their allies, follow a vision that include local management of resources and self-governance. Both apply a discourse that involves indigeneity and plurinationality, and both attempt to mobilise anti-colonial sentiments. 



Professor Jens Friis Lund
Assistant professor Mattias Borg Rasmussen


Associate Professor Christian Pilegaard Hansen

Committee members

Professor Mariel Aguilar-Støen, Senter for Utvikling og Miljø, Universitet i Oslo
Post-doctoral research associate Almut Schilling-Vacaflor, University of Osnabrück and German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg