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Isabel Lucia Collazos Gottret

Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Defining decolonisation in Bolivian museums: from rhetoric and practices to conceptualisation

After decades of grass-roots activism for cultural rights (Cusicanqui, 1986), Bolivia became a Plurinational State engaged in decolonisation in 2009. State legislature such as the recognition of Indigenous languages, cultural practices, and anti-discrimination laws are reshaping institutions, social relations and mentalities across Bolivia, including museums.


Even though there is no State-led plan to decolonise museums, the fertile ground for work and change particular to Latin American museums (Pinochet Cobos, 2016) has motivated several decolonial projects. Though museums are still perceived as rigid institutions, workers question and transform their roles constantly.

My research aims to:
  • Generate new understanding of how and by what means museums actively involved in these processes have integrated a decolonial agenda and where and how Indigenous knowledge has been introduced as a cognitive and narrative tool. 
  • Undertake a detailed examination of the motivations and strategies utilised by museum workers to facilitate or impede decolonial practices, and how they perceive their roles and the museums’ in the decolonisation process. 
  • Generate new insights for museum workers seeking to implement new perspectives in traditional spaces, particularly in reconfiguring the power relations between cultural actors of different backgrounds.  
  • Explore the means in which decolonisation, as a context-specific concept and needs-based practice, can become a driver for social change.  
  • Contribute, through the original findings and sociocultural particularities around Bolivia’s postcolonial museums, to produce new perspectives in academic knowledge and conceptualisation of museum work in Bolivia and postcolonial societies.

Research Area

  • Cultural and Museum Studies
  • Museum and Gallery Studies

Conferences

2017: Presentation of "La guerra del Chaco a través del tiempo. Historia, memoria y representaciones" (The Chaco War through time. History, memory and representations) in the panel "Uses and Abuses of History" of the Congress for Bolivian Studies (Bolivia).

Professional Achievements

Placement at the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums Communities Team (2022) 

  • Development of an evaluation tool for practitioners to critically and methodologically assess their projects and practices  

Director of the Simon I. Patino Cultural Centre, Santa Cruz, Bolivia (2017-2019) 

  • Implementation of a management system based on the planning, follow-up and evaluation of the activities, turning them to projects based on goals, needs and the recipients.  
  • Development of a museographical programme and cultural mediations focused on non-formal education. 
  • Creation of cultural projects that favoured expression, the inclusion of social actors and critical thinking.  
  • Organization of an agenda of cultural expressions and educational activities for an intergenerational public.  
  • Supervision of a team of facilitators, coordinators and administrative personnel. Assignment and management of the annual budget.   

Secretary of the Permanent Delegation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to UNESCO (2013-2016) 

  • Organization of cultural activities to promote Bolivian culture.  
  • Representative of Bolivia in multilateral meetings concerning cultural heritage.  
  • Production of external communications and articles. 
  • Administrative manager and assistant to the Ambassador.

Cultural Projects

2022: Independent Book Fair Enjambre de Libros – Bolivia 

2021: IV International Literature Conferences – Bolivia (online) 

2015-2019: Cineclubcito Boliviano – Latin American film screenings 

2012: Migrant'scène Festival – France 

2012: International Festival of Baroque Music "Misiones de Chiquitos"