Bolivia’s foremost social and political theorist, René Zavaleta Mercado held diplomatic and ministerial posts with the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement in the 1950s and 60s, before eventually aligning with the Marxist left, where he developed the creative, heterodox philosophy for which he is known. Towards a History of the National-Popular in Bolivia is his final and most significant work, available in English for the first time.
Published posthumously, the book examines a series of critical moments in Bolivian history to illuminate the reconstitution of seigneurial rule and the challenges posed by plebeian, indigenous, and working-class projects, agitating for a more inclusive nation. It is a work of reflexive social theory that explores the limits of its own conceptual frameworks—including classical political philosophy and Marxism—through an engagement with the history that made possible its own conceptual horizons. In its content, method, and style, the book offers an original reflection on social formations and political knowledge that have far-reaching implications for the Global South. Rooted in history and yet exceedingly relevant, Zavaleta’s revolutionary work makes contemporary a long genealogy of theories of the national-popular—from Gramsci and Mariátegui, to Fanon and Ho Chi Minh.
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