Quechua woman and child

International Quechua Research Institute in Bolivia

Rick Kearns

Bolivia is preparing to build an International Institute of the Quechua Nation (IIQN) to study indigenous Quechua science, culture and language, according to an announcement in December by the Quechua Institute of Language and Culture (QILC) and the Provincial Government of Cochabamba (where the facility will be located).

The IIQN will be built in the town of Cliza in Cochabamba Province and will extend across 32 acres, where it could accommodate up to 50,000 people, officials said. Buildings on the site will house research projects, events and workshops, and there will also be green community spaces and natural terraces throughout the area.

The new center will focus on the study of Quechua science and technology; the revitalization of the language; and the recuperation of its traditional knowledge and wisdom said Salvador Quispe, Coordinator of the QILC.

"It will study its cultural linguistics as well as the Quechua worldview; and it will be a space for rituals for the Elders and where our knowledge and wisdom is produced to show the world that Bolivia is plurinational," Quispe asserted.

Quispe noted that the IIQN will serve as a international facility for researchers and academics involved in Quechua subjects. He said they plan on starting with 150 professionals in those areas.

Vincent Limachi, Director of the Postgraduate Bilingual Intercultural Education Program for Andean Nations, reported that one of the first functions of the IIQN will be to identify and create a database of all Quechua scholars in Latin America and from this effort start to develop the new programs.

According to census data, there are 1,680,384 Quechua speakers in Bolivia, more than 17 percent of the total population. Quispe noted that the IIQN will not only be for Quechuas and students from Bolivia but for all 15 million people who speak the language from Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and parts of Argentina and Brazil.

The creation of the IIQN grew out of Bolivian Law 070 which mandated the establishment of the Plurinational Institute of the Study of the Languages and Cultures of the Indigenous Original and AfroBolivian People. Officials at the Plurinational Institute then helped create 18 Language and Culture Institutes that represent 36 nationalities, Quechua being one of them.

Construction of the facility could start this year as design plans are in the final stages according to officials.

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