Between Indian Law and Qullasuyu Nationalism. Gregorio Titiriku and the Making of AMP Indigenous Activists, 1921-1964


  • Waskar Ari-Chachaki



Achachila, Alcaldes Mayores, Alcaldes Mayores Particulares, Ayllu, Cholo, Escuelas Particulares, Indian Law, Jilaqatas, Pachamama, Qullasuyu, Qullasuyu Nationalism, Republic of Qullasuyu, School of Warisata


In 1921, when hard-line Liberal regimes ended in Bolivia, Gregorio Titiriku, an Uru-Aymara Indian from the shores of lake Titikaka (La Paz), started 50 years of Indian intellectual activism among the Alcaldes Mayores Particulares (AMP), a 450 cell network of indigenous intellectuals. Titiriku struggled against internal colonialism and was a crucial participant in the making of AMP subaltern nationalism.  Titiriku’s ideas became a crucial part of AMP discourse, known during this time as Indian Law.  This discourse promoted the worship of Pachamama (mother earth) and Achachillas (the spirit of the grandparents in the high hills of the Andes).  AMP discourse sought to rename the nation of Qullas (currently known as Aymara-Quechuas). Titiriku was especially good at creating ideas for mobilization among the AMP, such as qullasuyun wawapa (the children of the Qulla tribes) in order to promote "jaqi" pride (indigenous peoples pride), and bayeta camisas (people who dress in “bayeta” in order to promote an Indian dress-code as part of a politics of identity). These ideas provide us with a privileged field for understanding of the relationship between alternative modernities and public spheres. Titiriku thus used AMP discourse to contest segregation policies and to resist mainstream civilization projects. The particularities of Indian Law and its strategic nationalism reveal the existence of alternative discourses of modernity largely forgotten in Bolivia. The analysis of AMP discourse helps us understand the longstanding presence of struggle for autonomy and hegemonic projects in Bolivia and provides us with a better comprehension of how internal colonialism and public audiences interact historically.