Vanderbilt anthropologist can discuss rising conflict between indigenous Bolivians and Morales administration over highway plans

On Sunday, August 13, Bolivian president Evo Morales plans to sign a bill authorizing the construction of a highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), despite a 2011 law protecting the area from development that was passed in response to indigenous activism.

Carwil Bjork-James, assistant professor of anthropology, is an expert on indigenous environmental rights issues and conflicts that arise when governments seek to develop indigenous territories, and he has studied the TIPNIS conflict since 2010. He can provide expert context on this particular conflict and indigenous environmental issues generally.

“TIPNIS has become the major symbol of the Bolivian government’s stance on environmental protection and indigenous rights. Its move to pass the law—despite the lack of a credible consultation with the communities affected—represents a definitive break from principles it once championed on the international stage,” said Bjork-James. “The Morales government has decided to prioritize agricultural colonization in the Amazon over indigenous autonomy.”