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A Quantum of Anti-Imperialism? U.S.-Bolivian Relations in the Age of Evo Morales and James Bond

Friday, April 17, 2009
12:00 AM
1644 School of Social Work Building (on the left hand side when entering the building - International Institute - walk through the gallery, it is the small room in the corner)

Jose Antonio Lucero will present at LACS' New Perspectives on Latin America and the US - Noon Lecture Series. The title of Jose Antonio Lucero's talk is "A Quantum of Anti-Imperialism? Evo Morales, James Bond, and the US in Bolivia". Dr. Lucero is assistant professor at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, and the author of The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes (U. Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Improbably, the latest James Bond film finds 007 on the side of the Bolivian people fighting against the coup-plotting CIA and a water-privatizing capitalist predator (in environmentalist sheep’s clothing). Viewing this film as a kind of “social-science fiction,” I explore both how the "Bolivia" of the film serves as a vehicle for projecting some Northern anxieties about the Global South, as well as what debates about the actual filming (in Chile, not Bolivia) say about contemporary Bolivian politics. I also use this film as a point of departure for exploring the way in which “coup-talk” has become part of the governing style of Evo Morales, something that can only be understood by situating U.S-Bolivian relations within the context of Bolivian regional divisions and domestic politics. Without minimizing the real tensions and historical challenges that culminated in the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador from Bolivia in 2008, I suggest that it is important to view the role of the U.S. through a cultural-political lens. Just as “Bolivia” can be seen as an Orientalist representation in the post-Cold War imaginary of James Bond, the “U.S.” occupies an important place in the anti-imperial “master-frame” of oppositional politics used by the Morales administration. This paper concludes with a provisional assessment of some of the political risks and possibilities that such political visions entail.