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Landscape of MigrationMobility and Environmental Change on Bolivia's Tropical Frontier, 1952 to the Present$
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Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469656106

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469656106.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 October 2021

Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures

Narrative, Aesthetic, and Bolivia’s Frontier Imaginary

(p.26) Chapter One Moving Pictures
Landscape of Migration

Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

University of North Carolina Press

The chapter draws from an impressive corpus of visual and written materials that sought to define the March to the East in human and environmental terms. This includes the work of filmmaker Jorge Ruiz, who traveled throughout the Bolivian lowlands documenting colonization for the state and its U.S. sponsors. Ruiz played with the visual distinction between the arid highlands of Bolivia and the tropical lowlands. His camera followed the lives of fictional characters whose migrations through unfamiliar landscapes would overcome profound regional differences and unify a fractured national body. Shown in cinemas across the country, Ruiz’s films helped the state consolidate an enduring frontier imaginary that the future of the country lay in the east. Residents of Santa Cruz responded to such films in conflicting ways. Lowland elites eagerly embraced new highways and railways that would link them to the rest of the nation. Yet they harbored a deep fear of the Andean indigenous bodies that would accompany these new forms of mobility. Ruiz and his images also circulated far beyond Bolivia. His success at transplanting his aesthetic repertoire highlights the flow, pervasiveness, and flexibility of midcentury development ideology and the role of film as a powerful vehicle for representing change.

Keywords:   March to the East, Film, Fimmaker, Jorge Ruiz, Midcentury development, Frontier imaginary

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