Soledad Valdivia Rivera
Fields of interest
- Actual political reforms and social changes in Bolivia.
- Changing State – civil society relations.
- Social movements and the plurinational State.
- Expansion and revisioning of democracy in Latin America.
State-Social movement relations in Bolivia
Through this research I look at how the dynamic between the State and social movements in Bolivia defines and affects the political process in Bolivia. Social movements, particularly indigenous social movements, have left the margins to become key political actors, bringing the first indigenous president to power, Evo Morales, in 2005. Since then, these actors have been very influential but have also shown much ambivalence in interacting with the State. Utilizing the concept of ‘political networks’, I question the State-society dichotomy and make sense of the relation as the continuously arrangement and re-arrangement of political alliances, on both strategic and ideological basis, that include other actors such as NGOs and the (new) media. I maintain a focus on the indigenous factor, looking at how the political process in contemporary Bolivia has redefined ‘indigeneity’ and ‘citizenship’, to understand the position of indigenous peoples in society, particularly in the framework of ‘Plurinationality’.
(De-)Democratization in Latin America
This research focuses on the construction of democracy in the region. Moving past minimal definitions of democracy, the construction or deepening of democracy is understood as an ongoing process in which both progress and regression may, and indeed often do, take place simultaneously. In a context of a crisis of legitimacy of representative democracy and of state transformations, the research focus on how more traditional mechanism of the democratic practice are complemented, subverted and often challenged by actors from civil society. These actors are seen to introduce and press for more participatory mechanisms of democracy, such as Direct Democracy (plebiscites, referenda, etc.) but also alternative non-institutionalized instruments of political participation such as control y participación social (accountability), social movements, grass root organizations and strong ‘social leadership’ (populism). This study aims to assess the potential and limitations/risks of such mechanisms for the construction of democracy in the region.
She was born in Bolivia and came to live in the Netherlands in 1997. She obtained a BA in Cultural Anthropology and completed the two year Research Master Programme on Latin American and Amerindian Studies at Leiden University. In 2009, she was awarded a Mosaic grant by the NWO (the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research) to carry out a four year doctoral research. She obtained her PhD degree in 2014, after defending the dissertation under the title Redes Políticas y Processos de Democratización. La relación Estado-movimientos sociales bajo el gobierno de Evo Morales, 2006-2012. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the Centre of Latin American Research and Documentation CEDLA of the University of Amsterdam since 2017. She is the author of the forthcoming book (May 2019) Political Networks and Social Movements. Bolivian State-Society Relations under Evo Morales, 2006-20I6. New York: Berghahn Books.