Campaigning for coca. From collective action in the village to mobilizing behind the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS)

Special report. Partisan discretion
By Romain Busnel

Starting from the ethnographic monitoring of a peasant mobilization in the Tropic of Cochabamba (Bolivia), this article interrogates the forms of attachment of the coca farmers in this region to the Movement toward Socialism (MAS). Observing that the discretion of the arrangements relating to this controversial crop is key to the relations between the party, its union branches, and the peasant populations of the region, this article shows the existing continuities between “collective action in the village” and the more exceptional forms of mobilization “in the street.” Drawing on the work of Thomas Clay Arnold, it conceptualizes this continuum of practices and the partisan attachment that ensues in terms of a moral economy. This moral economy centers on the “social good” of coca, which unites village communities while also disturbing their relationship to politics and legality.

  • political party
  • trade unionism
  • movement for socialism
  • moral economy
  • Bolivia
  • social good
  • coca
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