Why was the “indigenous identity” adopted in Bolivia in the 2000s? This paper explores how the Bolivian citizen changed their farmer’s identity to an indigenous identity, and how it affected the social movement’s fate.
“The “Water War,” an unprecedented-scale social movement, occurred in Bolivia in the 2000s. This movement was prominent for the following three points. First, after the privatization of the biggest labor union in Bolivia in 1985, there was no capability to stimulate social movements despite the effort of several organizations. Under such unfavorable situation for movements, the Water War could mobilize the greatest number of people, and resulted in political changes. Second, The Water War made the solidarity among the different classes and profession of labor unions. Finally, citizens had started to emphasize their indigenous identity, which was a symbol of poverty and prejudice.
Despite numerous researches on the Water War, it is not clear which factor affects the movement the most.
This paper hypothesizes that adopting the indigenous identity reinforces mobilization and solidarity. This paper compares the influence of citizen’s preferences of their identity by using Multi-Agent Simulation (MAS), a computational approach to create a virtual society. Given that collecting identity data is difficult, MAS model helps detect the citizen’s identity change by recreating and simulating Bolivian social movements. The model also helps identify the counterfactual by adding factors that affect the mobilization in the Water War.