Cash, Clothes, and Construction

Rethinking Value in Bolivia’s Pluri-economy

2023
Author:

Kate Maclean

A groundbreaking feminist perspective on Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) rule in Bolivia and the country’s radical transformation under Evo Morales

Cash, Clothes, and Construction presents the first gender-based analysis of “pluri-economy,” a central pillar of Evo Morales’s Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) in Bolivia to overthrow neoliberalism and decolonize politics and economics. Centering the perspective of the Indigenous women who have transformed Bolivia’s economy from the ground up, Kate Maclean evaluates the potential of MAS’s vision to embrace feminist critiques of capitalism and economic diversity.

The presidency of Evo Morales in Bolivia (2006–2019) has produced considerable academic scholarship, much of it focused on Indigenous social movements or extractivism, and often triumphalist about the successes of Morales’s Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS). Turning a new lens on the movement, Cash, Clothes, and Construction presents the first gender-based analysis of “pluri-economy,” a central pillar of Bolivia’s program under Morales, evaluating the potential of this vision of “an economy where all economies fit” to embrace feminist critiques of capitalism and economic diversity.

Based on more than twelve years of empirical research exploring the remarkable transformations in Bolivia since 2006, this book focuses on three sectors—finance, clothing, and construction—in which Indigenous women have defied gendered expectations. Kate Maclean presents detailed case studies of women selling second-hand high street clothes from the United States in the vast, peri-urban markets of Bolivian cities; Aymaran designers of new pollera (traditional Andean dress) fashions, one of whom exhibited her collection in New York City; and the powerful and rich chola paceña whose real estate investments have transformed the cultural maps of La Paz and El Alto.

Cash, Clothes, and Construction offers a gendered analysis of the mission of MAS to dismantle neoliberalism and decolonize politics and economy from the perspective of the Indigenous women who have radically transformed Bolivia’s economy from the ground up.

Kate Maclean is associate professor at the Institute of Global Prosperity at The Bartlett, University College London. She is author of Social Urbanism and the Politics of Violence: The Medellín Miracle.