Performing Participation: Mining, Power, and the Limits of Public Consultation in Bolivia

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74 Scopus citations


Consultation mechanisms, particularly for Indigenous and campesino populations, have been promoted by international forums and incorporated into law throughout Latin America. In Bolivia, consultation has been codified in law since 1991, and has recently been fully integrated into the legal codes governing mining and hydrocarbons, as well as the 2009 Constitution. Though required by law, consultation is practiced irregularly and is not legally binding. As a result, neither private companies nor the state are obligated to follow community recommendations, and communities have no right to halt projects to which they object. This article examines processes of public consultation in Bolivia's mining sector. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Oruro department, I argue that public consultation processes are tightly managed and circumscribe local input. Rather than fostering the participation of affected populations in resource governance, public consultation circumscribes and depoliticizes unequal and unjust social relations, in an attempt to legitimize extractive activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-451
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Bolivia
  • Consultation
  • FPIC
  • Mining
  • Participatory development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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