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Seventeen - The Law of the Excluded: Indigenous Justice and Plurinationality in Bolivia and Ecuador

from Part Five - Real Legal Utopias: Interrupting the Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2023

Boaventura de Sousa Santos
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Summary

At the end of the first decade of the millennium, Bolivia and Ecuador were the two Latin American countries that had undergone the deepest constitutional transformations during the course of political mobilisations carried out by indigenous movements. Their constitutions contain the embryos of a paradigmatic transformation of modern law and the state, putting an end to the centuries-old abyssal line haunting their social, cultural and political life. In this chapter, I focus on the legal judicial systems as they navigated these often turbulent processes, in which recognition of the existence and legitimacy of indigenous justice acquired a new political significance. It was not just a matter of recognition of the country’s cultural diversity or an expedient to allow remote local communities to resolve minor conflicts within their own sphere, thus guaranteeing the social peace which the state could not safeguard under any circumstances due to a lack of material and human resources. It was rather about conceiving of indigenous justice as an important part of a political project with a decolonising and anti-capitalist mission, a second political independence that might finally break with the Eurocentric abyssal line that has conditioned development processes in the last two hundred years. I analyse the vicissitudes of this process showing the limitations of the envisaged interruption of the modern colonial state and of modern Eurocentric law.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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