"Community Justice," Ancestral Rights, and Lynching in Rural Bolivia

Yates, D. (2017), ‘”Community Justice,” Ancestral Rights, and Lynching in Rural Bolivia’, Race and Justice, Preprint.

Lynching in Bolivia has been portrayed as a largely routinized and primarily urban occurrence that is a direct response to the state’s inability to provide security. Using a recent case of rural lynching as a starting point, I will evaluate the idea of rural Bolivian lynching in Indigenous communities as vigilantism. I contrast what little is known about rural lynching in Bolivia to the known pattern of urban lynching and ask whether these are distinct phenomena. Finally, I discuss the idea of ancestral validation and the punishment rights implied by a western-style state sanctioning aspects of non-western justice. I ask, do our existing models for such extreme cases as fatal vigilantism exclude lynching in rural Indigenous Bolivian communities? At the heart of this discussion is how we define a cultural practice versus how we define deviance in a multicultural society; how we nest authority structures and how we afford them legitimate rights to the use of force and other extreme control measures.