The restorative nature of Aymara Indigenous justice in Bolivia

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Much current Western scholarship suggests that the modern idea of restorative justice is not totally a recent invention; it shares a common basis with and is similar to Indigenous justice. This article draws on fieldwork concerning Indigenous justice in Bolivia and contends that it has little in common with restorative justice. In much of the Western world, modern justice systems are largely retributive, based on individual blame and punishment, and restorative mechanisms are used rarely as complementary. Our Bolivian fieldwork revealed Indigenous justice to be a full-fledged, intrinsically restorative system of justice. This article will briefly set out conceptualisations and practices of restorative justice in the Western world before going on to consider in some detail the Indigenous system in Bolivia. It will contend that it is the differences between Western restorative justice and Indigenous justice which are more important to a proper understanding of Indigenous justice. It will make the argument that linking the two may be damaging to the comprehension and survival of Indigenous justice and may also inhibit the real potential of Indigenous justice to enrich justice practices in Western countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberTIRJ-D-23-00001
JournalThe International Journal of Restorative Justice
Issue numberOnline First
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • indigenous justice
  • restorative justice
  • Bolivia
  • Latin America


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