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2013 Joukowsky Dissertation Prize Profile: The Future of Democracy in Bolivia

May 24, 2013

Susan H. Ellison, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, has won a Joukowsky Dissertation Prize in Social Science for Mediating Democracy in El Alto: The Politics of Conflict Resolution in Bolivia. She spent 17 months in Bolivia studying Alternative Dispute Resolution and other programs meant to encourage development of democracy.

Thirty years ago, the thriving metropolis of El Alto, Bolivia, was virtually non-existent. But in the 1980s and 90s, driven from the countryside by the drought and the privatization of mines, farmers and miners, many of them indigenous, began to migrate to more populous areas, making their homes in the mountainside that loomed over the basin city of La Paz, one of two Bolivian capitals. It wasn’t exactly a peaceful transition. Population growth soon outpaced the government’s ability to provide basic services like running water and a sewage system. In 2003, fed up with ongoing economic and political exclusion, neighborhood associations, trade unions, and other groups staged an uprising, bringing the country to a standstill.

Read more of Courtney Coelho's article about Susan Ellison.