Ethnodevelopment within the Bolivian Aymara : a case study in Laja : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The Aymaran people have lived on the Andean altiplano between the valley where today's city of La Paz sits and Lake Titicaca for over 800 years. During that time they have been conquered by the Inca Kingdom, the Spanish Crown and the mestizo governors of the Republic of Bolivia. Despite this history of submission the Aymara have maintained their unique cultural identity strong and pure. Life on the altiplano has always been a challenge and today is no exception. Harsh weather conditions and isolation from mainstream Bolivian society have limited the possibility of economic development for the thousands of Aymaran communities spread across the altiplano. One such rural community is Laja, the original location of the city of La Paz, today home to an Aymaran population of 707. For decades, authors within the discipline of development studies have been seeking sustainable solutions for rural communities like Laja. The introduction of the theories of alternative development in the 1980s helped focus development studies on the issues that would truly impact on world poverty after the weaknesses of mainstream development theories became evident. Arising from the alternative development paradigm came the theory of ethnodevelopment.