UCL Events


Book launch: 'Coca Yes, Cocaine No: How Bolivia's Coca Growers Reshaped Democracy'

13 March 2019, 5:00 pm–8:00 pm

Old Americas

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Daisy Voake


103 Institute of Americas
51 Gordon Square

Thomas Grisaffi, is lecturer in the department of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading. 
Sian Lazar, is Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of El Alto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia (2008) and The Social Life of Politics: Ethics, Kinship, and Union Activism in Argentina (2017). 
Andrew Canessa, UCL Institute of the Americas, is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Essex. He is the author of Intimate Indigeneities: Race, Sex, and History in the Small Spaces of Andean Life (2012).


Thomas Grisaffi traces the political ascent & transformation of the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) from an agricultural union of coca growers into Bolivia's ruling party. When Evo Morales—leader of the MAS—became Bolivia's president in 2006, coca growers celebrated his election and the possibility of scaling up their form of grassroots democracy to the national level. Drawing on a decade of ethnographic fieldwork Grisaffi outlines the tension that Morales faced between the realities of international politics and his constituents, who, even if their coca is grown for ritual or medicinal purposes, are implicated in the cocaine trade and criminalized under the U.S.-led drug war. Grisaffi shows how Morales's failure to meet his constituents' demands demonstrates that the full realization of alternative democratic models at the local or national level is constrained or enabled by global political & economic circumstances.