Suma qamañain Bolivia: indigenous understandings of well-being and their contribution to a post-neoliberal paradigm

Kepa Artaraz, Melania Calestani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent decades there has been increasing interest in academic, governmental, and nongovernmental circles worldwide in developing universal definitions of well-being. Governments have progressively shifted their policies on this concept and are currently engaged in improving the well-being of their populations. Bolivia’s concept of suma qamaña (living well together) is broader than “well-being,” emphasizing the importance of harmonious relations between nature and human beings and providing an important link to sustainability that current conceptions of well-being fail to make. Exploring the concept is highly relevant at this historical moment because the Morales government is engaged in a wide-ranging process of social transformation to implement it. Its translation into public policy and the adoption of a development model consistent with it have proved problematic. While the introduction of the concept into the National Development Plan, the new constitution, and the Law of Mother Earth has addressed the need to move from individualized understandings of well-being to collective ones, the government has not overcome the conflict between growth-driven approaches and sustainability that is inherent in all its legislation. Moreover, understandings of the concept are constantly being negotiated and transformed, calling for an understanding of it that is rooted in people’s practices and beliefs rather than in theoretical constructions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-233
Number of pages18
JournalLatin American Perspectives
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Suma qamaña
  • Well-being
  • Bolivia
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Sustainable development


Dive into the research topics of 'Suma qamañain Bolivia: indigenous understandings of well-being and their contribution to a post-neoliberal paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this