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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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To Minister or Administer

To Minister or Administer

Faith and Frontier Development in Revolutionary and Authoritarian Bolivia, 1952–1982

(p.139) Chapter Four To Minister or Administer
Landscape of Migration

Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

University of North Carolina Press

Across the Global South, missionary and religious organizations served as state proxies in “secular” modernization projects. In Bolivia, Protestants flocked to new colonization zones at the invitation of the MNR. This chapter explores the Methodist Mission Board and the Mennonite Central Committee (a North American relief agency). Each made Bolivia a center of its global operations and joined with several Maryknoll nuns in an improvised United Church Committee (CIU) in the wake of a devastating 1968 flood. The CIU would go on to administer the San Julián Project, the largest colonization program in Bolivian history during a period of authoritarian rule ushered in by General Hugo Banzer’s 1971 coup. Faith-based development practitioners worked on the ground with colonists, gained the confidence of Banzer, and channeled international funding. During that time, San Julián attracted a range of academics and planners who were drawn to its unique orientation program and spatial design. The chapter follows the trajectories of these mobile actors who leveraged their work in Bolivia into new roles with international agencies and NGOs across the Global South. These “go-betweens” crossed boundaries separating the revolutionary and the authoritarian, the secular and the sacred, and the frontier and the academy.

Keywords:   Faith-based development, Missionary, Global South, Colonization, Authoritarian, Nongovernmental Organization, United Church Committee (CIU), San Julián Project, General Hugo Banzer

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