This dissertation explores the relationship between a regional elite and the central state, focusing on Santa Cruz, a resource-rich department in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. It traces this relationship from 1935 to 1959, a period marked by the region's transformation from a marginalized space--in both the political territory and the national imagination--to a privileged place driving national development. The regionalist trends that have long shaped the historiography tend overlook the critical role played by the central state in fomenting economic development in Santa Cruz. By examining the relationship between the regional elite, the central state, and the U.S. government, this study illuminates the tensions and alliances that underlie the region's integration into the national space. In addition to national and transnational politics, this study also explores how the regional intelligentsia used the past to frame physical integration and development, using both history and archeology to legitimize their demands for increased autonomy and self-governance.