Princeton University Library Catalog

Subversion Through Self Starvation: Material and Symbolic Economies of Indigenous Women's Hunger in Bolivia

Maritz, Erik [Browse]
Senior thesis
Legnani, Nicole D. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in Latin American Studies [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
What does it mean for a female body culturally constructed to nourish to publicly hunger in subversion? This thesis explores just that: the hunger strike as a form of counter-hegemonic resistance for indigenous women in Bolivia. In the Andes, where gender relations are dominated by notions of complementarity and symmetry that obscure the privileging of men to women in both the household and public life, indigenous women occupy a precarious position. Neoliberal reforms that threaten their access to communal resources have sparked national indigenous mobilizations, mobilizations that women themselves have been excluded from. Physically, culturally, and socioeconomically relegated to the home, indigenous women have been able to, at least temporarily, supercede this immobilization through their reappropriation of hunger as a means of resistance. This thesis attempts to disentangle how indigenous women’s hunger has been formulated as a dangerous, destabilizing force to the white, male, urban center, something in need of constant policing, and how indigenous women have turned this construction on its head. In publicly hungering, these women have achieved tangible results through forcing urban elites to acknowledge their complicity in indigenous communities’ pauperization and, in the process, revalorized indigenous womanhood and motherhood as powerful, subversive identities.