Start Submission

Reading: Plurinational state and ecological conscience in Bolivia: The case of the 2019 forest fires


A- A+
Alt. Display

Articles | Artículos

Plurinational state and ecological conscience in Bolivia: The case of the 2019 forest fires


Cletus Gregor Barié ,

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL
About Cletus
Cletus Gregor Barié is a researcher and practitioner in the field of indigenous rights and social dialogue with a focus on the Andean region. He lived in Bolivia working in development cooperation programmes between 2000 and 2009, and visited Bolivia several times since then to conduct field studies. He is currently an external doctoral candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Centre for Research and Documentation on Latin America (CEDLA) in Amsterdam, focusing on conflicts over the construction of plurinational states in Bolivia and Ecuador.
X close

Moira Zuazo

Freie Universität Berlin, DE
About Moira
Moira Zuazo has a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Konstanz and a Master's degree in Democracy Studies from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in Bolivia, where she currently teaches. Her research focuses on the evolution of democratic systems. In her best-known publications she addressed the reconfiguration of the Bolivian state (2017), the development of the Bolivian state in the context of (de)centralisation and nation-building (2012), and the ruralisation of Bolivian politics (2008). Until 2016 he was responsible for policy dialogue and development alternatives at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bolivia. She is currently based in Berlin, where she works as a postdoctoral researcher at trAndeS - Free University of Berlin, a programme on Sustainable Development and Social Inequalities in the Andean Region.
X close


In 2019, Bolivia suffered one of the worst forest fires in its history. The rapid advance of the flames provoked reactions in defence of the environment hitherto unknown in Bolivian society. Encouraged by a peaceful march of lowland indigenous communities, a broad spectrum of social actors expressed their indignation at the destruction of the forests and demanded more governmental action. The spontaneous emergence of ecological awareness during the fire crisis allows reflection on the progress in constructing the symbolic state, a state in the “heads” and imaginaries of citizens (Bourdieu, 2014). Social demands during the crisis reflect new expectations placed on a plurinational state respectful of the rights of nature. By ignoring the ongoing ecological catastrophe, the government placed itself at the margin of an emerging symbolic order to which it had previously contributed and of which it is a product.


Resumen: Estado plurinacional y conciencia ecológica en Bolivia: El caso de los incendios forestales de 2019

En 2019, Bolivia sufrió uno de los peores incendios forestales de su historia. El rápido avance de las llamas provocó reacciones en defensa del medio ambiente hasta ahora desconocidas en la sociedad boliviana. Alentados por una marcha pacífica de las comunidades indígenas de las tierras bajas, un amplio espectro de actores sociales expresó su indignación por la destrucción de los bosques y exigió una mayor acción gubernamental. La emergencia espontánea de la conciencia ecológica durante la crisis de los incendios permite reflexionar sobre el avance en la construcción del estado simbólico, un estado en las “cabezas” e imaginarios de los ciudadanos (Bourdieu, 2014). Las demandas sociales durante la crisis reflejan las nuevas expectativas puestas en un estado plurinacional respetuoso con los derechos de la naturaleza. Al ignorar la catástrofe ecológica en curso, el gobierno se situó al margen de un orden simbólico emergente al que había contribuido previamente y del que es un producto. 

How to Cite: Barié, C. G., & Zuazo, M. (2022). Plurinational state and ecological conscience in Bolivia: The case of the 2019 forest fires. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (114), 89–114. DOI:
Published on 14 Nov 2022.
Peer Reviewed


  • PDF (EN)