Rituals Of The Re-Founded Bolivian State

Raquel Cerball
2010
PAGE In the month of June the Willka Kuti ritual or Aymara New Year takes place in the Bolivian Western highlands. This thesis explores Aymara historic, cosmologic and symbolic dimensions of the process of change in Bolivia by looking at this specific ritual. With the rise of indigenous people in Bolivia's political arena there have been many changes to the country's national affairs involving economical, social and especially religious issues. For the indigenous Aymara, the notion of pachakuti
more » ... notion of pachakuti is associated with a mythical transformation of space-time and a profound change. Thus, the beginning of a new era has begun and is transforming the place of the indigenous majority in contemporary Bolivia. Exploring Aymara ritual practice, and deployment of Aymara symbolism in political spaces, this study contributes to anthropological understanding of historical currents of indigenous struggle, politics, symbolism and religion by focusing on the contemporary religious and political situation in Bolivia. Aymara indigenous cosmologies are beginning to be included in governmental discourse as a response to the changes undertaken in favor of the indigenous majority. The pluralistic treatment of religion is legitimizing Aymara ritual specialists, known as Amawt'as, who work closely with political leaders in conducting rituals at important events. Tiwanaku is a national emblem and references a grandiose Andean past and the landmark of newly invented traditions. Therefore, this study explores why Tiwanaku is the chosen place to perform rituals in recent and political celebrations. Ethno-politically engaged Amawt'as are the main agents in conducting this ritual. For the Amawt'as, Tiwanaku is an ancient powerful shrine attributed with the ability to concentrate sacred power. Hence, the Aymara re-appropriate Tiwanaku to fortify their ethnic pride, to exemplify political and spiritual victories and to fight the contemporary implications of Bolivia's colonial past. The ritual speaks to various audiences, but it also condenses divergent conflicting messages. For instance, one part of the message references Aymara and/or indigenous parts of the nation in celebrating the triumph of indigenous struggles, the beginning of a new era and Evo Morales's election to the presidency and the first indigenous head of state. Another part of the message references the continuities of Bolivia as an internally diverse nation within which harmony, peace and unity between polarized sectors are enjoined through ritual activity. As a sacred space, Tiwanaku is embraced by Aymara ritual participants as the place to mediate and conciliate conflicts between indigenous and non-indigenous groups. The main focus of this thesis is on the interweaving of politics and religious process, the Aymara perspective on the interaction of past and present and how the Willka Kuti ritual celebrated at Tiwanaku references the past as an invented tradition.
doi:10.21220/s2-h006-sm66 fatcat:znpmkkayvbgt5l5q6w4my4p2h4