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PLACA presents: José Rabasa

341 Eggers Hall

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Pachamamismo, or the Fictions of (the Absence of) Voice Pachamamismo is a term derived from the Andean deity known as the Pachamama, broadly known as Mother Earth. The -ismo added to the pachamama manifests a philosophy, a political agenda, a pedagogical program, an aesthetic, and a legal framework that defines nonwestern approaches for reflecting on the intersection of nature and culture. It may be considered as a form of primitivism in that it offers an alternative to rationalist thought. Pachamamismo has turned into a career in the context of the plurinational state of Bolivia. But it is also a career for those who make of saving and caring for Mother Earth a component of tourist enterprises. Shamans and intercultural intellectuals carve niches in the state bureaucracies and their touristic counterparts. Often tourism and bureaucracy go hand in hand. Laws protect the pachamama and festivities are recognized in purified forms as patrimonies of the nation. Pachamamismo sublimates and essentializes indigenous forms of life into Andean philosophies and practices of inter-cultural communication. Pachamamismo, beyond the specific forms it assumes in the Andes, manifests the tendency to disqualify all categories and forms of thought that have a western source. In the person of Evo Morales, the current presidents of Bolivia, pachamamismo has become a global cry for saving the earth from capitalist plunder. The spiritual leader of the globe, however, has no qualms destroying native Amazonian cultures in the name of an Amazonic capitalism. As an ideology pachamamismo carries a contradiction that destroys the same forms it seeks to preserve. Professor Rabasa is Long Term Visiting Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. His publications include Without History: Subaltern Studies, the Zapatista Insurgency, and the Specter of History (2010) and Writing Violence on the Northern Frontier: The historiography of Sixteenth-Century New Mexico and Florida and the Legacy of Conquest (2000); he is co-editor of Subaltern Studies in the Americas, special issue of Disposition (1996).


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