Teaches courses on Modern Latin American history that take up issues of race, ethnic identity, indigenous political mobilization, historical images and historical memory. A Modern Latin American history course is under design that looks at the process of nation building and race in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Latin America. Professor Kuenzli is currently teaching an honors course entitled “Latin American Civilization.” During the spring semester of 2008, under the auspices of the Fulbright Fellowship program, she will be researching in Bolivia and teaching a class at the Universidad Indígena.
Through a focus on the Bolivian case, my work explores the relationship between race, ethnic identity, citizenship, and the formation of the nation state in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Bolivia, with important ramifications for contemporary indigenous mobilizations in Bolivia. In the late nineteenth century the promise of inclusive citizenship was pushed to the fore through civil and international war, economic reforms, the emergence of strong political parties, and a drive by the national elite to modernize and bring progress.
In 1899 there was a civil war between Liberals and Conservatives. To fill out his ranks, General Jose Manuel Pando, leader of the Liberal Party, made an alliance with many members of the Aymara indigenous group to secure his victory. However, in the wake of the war, rather than recognizing the Aymaras as Liberal allies, the Aymara participation was branded an Aymara-led race war launched against the creole elite. Conservative and Liberal journalists developed various narratives of the 1899 Civil War that branded the Aymaras as a savage, ignorant, backward people, unfit to receive the benefits and/or responsibility of citizenship. In many ways, this story mirrors other cases of exclusionary blueprints of nation that sought to exclude subaltern actors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as they strove to modernize and progress. However, my study moves beyond the process of the exclusion and marginalization of the Aymara population. In fact, the contextual setting outlined above serves in many ways as the springboard for my study. I look at how the Aymaras’ participation in the 1899 war led to a negotiated Liberal national project between indigenous communities and Liberal intellectuals in the early twentieth century through the refashioning of the Inca image and discourse, which I posit served as a vehicle for citizenship in early twentieth-century Bolivia. This “Inca” ideal was promoted by both Liberal intellectuals and the local Aymara elite, who adopted and promoted an “Inca” identity in the early twentieth century via theatrical performance.