Evangelistas and Kataristas in Highland Bolivia
ANDREW CANESSA, Lecturer
Department of Sociology, University of Essex. Journal of Latin American Studies 32:1 (February 2000): 115-144.
Two of the most striking aspects of social change in recent decades in Latin America have been the rise of indigenist movements and the spread of evangelical Protestantism. To date they have been analysed separately, but this article shows that a comparison of the two in the context of Bolivia can prove highly productive.
Although in many respects evangelismo and katarismo are diametrically opposed, there are some striking similarities. They draw their adherents from the same social base, undermine the notion of a homogeneous nation-state and also clearly reject the position of cultural mestizaje at the root of Bolivian state ideology. Thus, at a time when ‘hybridised’ cultural forms are supposed to be becoming more common in Latin America and around the world, these two social movements explicitly contest hybridity.
I liked this piece and I am glad to have found it again. The Indian has returned and this calls into question the nation-state based on the idea of the “cosmic race” or the mestizo. Both evangelism and katarismo reject the kind of cultural mixing that has been state ideology and that has also been seen (by García Canclini and also Schwarz 1-18 in the translation, says Canessa) as the central feature of Latin American cultures and of other parts of the world at the periphery of global capitalism.
Canessa emphasizes the popularity of hybridity with postmodernists and in globalization and points out that just as scholars start to celebrate it, substantial numbers of actual Latin Americans are rejecting such celebrations. He also points out that hybrid cultural forms are hardly new in the Andes (and are at least two milennia old). And people are not rejecting hybridity in popular culture, but in the realm of religion and ethnic identity.
Here in-betweenness is rejected; there are of course forms of hybridity, but more interesting is that certain historical forms of it are being rejected. And they are being rejected by groups on the forefront of modernization, not by those who might be termed traditionalist.
In katarismo, the nation is not necessarily a nation-state. And katarismo has pushed state ideologies away from mestizaje and toward multiculturalism; away from hybridity and toward heterogeneity. And evangelismo, also associated with racial “advance,” has characteristics in common with katarismo.
Are they both resistant to coloniaje? What about capitalism? These are some questions to consider on a second reading of this article and a closer look at these phenomena in general.