Catechists at the Crossroads: Neo-Catholicism, neoliberalism and the shifting sociopolitical landscape of Aymara life

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This article examines the intersection of religious and sociopoliticalreform in contemporary highlands Bolivia. The case at issue is an Aymararegion, where the institutions, personnel and practices of Catholicism havelong been crucial to the production of local society. Over the lastdecades of the 20th century, a series of pastoral strategies initiated bythe Church have sought to localize Catholic practices through theempowerment of community-level catechists and, more recently, efforts toreclaim elements of Aymara culture as expressions of Catholicmeaning. These pastoral developments have overlapped with a set ofneoliberal political reforms aimed at decentralizing administrativepractices through the creation and empowerment of municipalities at thelocal level. I focus here on the experiences of one catechist to examinethe ways his career as a local agent of missionary Catholicism entangledhim directly within the sociopolitical processes being tested and stretchedby these neoliberal reforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-120
Number of pages22
JournalPolitics and Religion Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008



  • Aymara
  • Catechist
  • Culturalist
  • Evangelization
  • Global Catholicism
  • Pastoral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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