RELEASE DATE: 01 Oct, 2011


Bolivia’s relationship with its past has always been problematic. Starting with an ambivalent resentment towards the Spanish colonisers who brought with them a bittersweet combina- tion of enlightenment and destruction, the national psyche has been historically suffused with anguish and hope. Even after it proclaimed its independence, the country went on to lose all the territorial wars it fought. While certain facts are widely accepted (the country’s external borders, as well as some key dates on the calendar), perhaps the most important details are disputed and still being ravelled and unravelled. The country’s history is still being written, pieced together apocryphally from palimpsests and chronicles of dubious origin. It is therefore befitting that we should learn about it through a literary journey.

Gabriela Kumontoy [p.6] walks along the laderas to show how beneath the kitsch of some of El Alto’s largest and most ostentatious maisonettes lies an ecological cultural trend which strives for a suma qamaña approach to architecture, marrying grandeur with social and environ- mental sustainability. Having given you a perspective of Bolivia’s past and present, we’d like to invite you to shape our future issues by sharing your thoughts, article ideas and suggestions. Write to us at

Joanna Kozlowska [p.10] gives us a tour of Bolivian books written about key points in the country’s history to show us why the fictional flavours and textures of history can give us more understanding than the facts.

Finally, Daniel Caplin [p.14] jigs us back into the present to explore the significance of the iconic indigenous flag, and examines whether the Wiphala is rooted in history or the popular imagination.

Hasta entonces.

Amaru Villanueva Rance


Maphra On

01 Nov, 2011 | Robbie Macdonald

Calle Hermanos Manchego 2586, near corner of Av. Arce. Sopocachi and San Jorge, La Paz, Bolivia Jorge, La Paz, Bolivia If a group of 15 people enters a restaurant unannounced, the proprietors migh...


01 Nov, 2011 | Gabriel Kumontoy

Bricks are being laid fast here in Bolivia. They are also being feasted upon. Just as fast by the Pachamama. Their interiors, contrary to their gaudy exteriors have bare-naked walls devoid of pr...

Wiphala-Relic or re-invention?

01 Nov, 2011 | Daniel Caplin

Daniel Caplin investigates the historical and political texture of Bolivia's iconic indigenous flag. In its Constitution, Bolivia is described as a plurinational state. This is an apt description se...

Turning the pages - Bolivian history in books

01 Nov, 2011 | Joanna Kozlowska

By all accounts, Franz Tamayo lives on. Where the founding father of Bolivian letters used to contemplate the snow-capped Illimani ('Two giants gaze upon each other', an anecdote would have him say),...

Micro Bus

01 Nov, 2011 | Joanna Kozlowska

Come rain or come shine, La Paz's growling micros steadily make their way through the urban jungle. Squeezed between robust cholitas and pensive artisans, you cannot but feel part of the city's fla...