Bolivia: Underground Cooperatives

Mine in Bolivia
A miner heads below ground at the beginning of a day’s work. (Photo by Andrea Marston)

University of California Berkeley student Andrea Marston was awarded a Tinker Field Research Grant through Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies in the summer of 2013 for travel throughout Bolivia's mining regions.  A Ph.D. student in the department of Geography, Andrea traveled to Bolivia to test possible disssertation topics exploring the role of underground mining cooperatives in the economic and political landscape of the altiplano, the high Andean plateau that runs along the western edge of Bolivia.  

Andrea spent four weeks in Bolivia speaking informally with miners, interviewing experts, visiting local NGOs and surveying the historical archives to determine if they would be useful to her work.  Through this brief introductory visit, Andrea was able to develop a list of potential collaborators and identify which sites could serve as the best case studies.  Moreover, Andrea now has a better understanding of the complicated relationships between the local mining cooperatives, the state and private capital flows - all of which converge underground in the mines.  Andrea reports that she is now writing proposals for dissertation funding and could not imagine being well-enough equipped to do so without this preliminary field experience.  

Andrea's article, "Underground Cooperatives", was recently published in the Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies.