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

Donna Yates*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalRace and justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Indigenous people
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • Latin Americans
  • race and policing
  • lynching
  • race and death penalty
  • community corrections
  • race and corrections

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