New Publication: Crisis Time, Class Formation and the End of Evo Morales

by Angus McNelly

Angus McNelly is an Honorary Research Fellow in Latin American Politics/International Development at Queen Mary University of London. His research focuses on the experiences of the urban working-classes under the progressive government of Evo Morales in Bolivia, where Angus has spent a significant amount of time conducting research. He is currently part of the QMUL Latin America network, Latin American Geographies-UK and co-organises the Urban and Regional Political Economy working group in the International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy.

Angus McNelly has published a chapter in an edited collection, Bolivia at the Crossroads: Politics, Economy, and Environment in a Time of Crisis (ed. Soledad Valdivia Rivera).

Abstract: In October 2019, Presidential elections in Bolivia sparked a political crisis. Public trust in liberal democratic institutions collapsed amidst accusations of electoral fraud and incumbent Evo Morales, who initially appeared to have won the elections in the first round, left his presidential post at the suggestion of the military. Bolivian politics polarised around narratives of electoral fraud and coup d’état. In order to make sense of the chaos of this moment, I suggest returning to the framing of ‘crisis as method’ suggested by Bolivian critical theorist René Zavaleta. In suggesting crisis not only as a historical feature of capitalism but also as an epistemological lens through which to discern complex and incongruent social formations such as Bolivia, Zavaleta gives us the tools to make sense of the 2019 crisis. By looking at medium-term processes of subsumption, class formation and nation building, I identify the socio-historic blocs present in 2019 and their lineage, as well as the origins of the two competing narratives of crisis.