Photo by Tom Kruse ©


Project Description:

Long-term ethnographic research in Bolivia, conducted regularly since 1991, has been invested in understanding what it means to be “indigenous” in this majority indigenous country, in particular, in a region historically characterized by extensive cultural mixture (mestizaje) and among people often assumed to be “non-indigenous.” This research gives close attention to the work of political coalition-building, or “problem-solving networks,” along the urban periphery in and around the provincial capital of Quillacollo, near the city of Cochabamba. A regular focus of this work has been attention to the ways that local advocates, representatives, and political operators make use of national, popular, and indigenous cultural heritage as part of the everyday social engagements composing efforts to build political “careers,” and as people who operate in intimate proximity to the potential stigmatization, appropriations, and  creative reinventions associated with upwardly mobile indigenous identity (cholaje).

At a national level and particularly since 2000, this work has also been concerned with how indigenous and popular mobilization has substantively reinvented Bolivia’s political public sphere, in particular the meaning of: democracy, sovereignty, citizenship, and indigenous belonging. At the same time at the national level this research examines the political negotiation of identity against the changing international backdrop of neoliberal policies and politics, as this has continued to give shape to domestic spaces of multiculturalism in Bolivia and elsewhere. In other words, this work has been concerned with the ways that local indigenous cultural frameworks in Bolivia have maintained an ongoing and constructive dialogue with, and are in important ways authorized by, local problem-solving networks, grassroots popular and indigenous movements, as well as international and global currents of indigenous rights. Much of this research has recently been detailed in my book, Roosters at Midnight: Indigenous Signs and Stigma in Local Bolivian Politics (School of Advanced Research Press, 2010).


Relevant Professional Research and Writing:

“The Perils of Constituent Power and Multicultural Citizenship in Bolivia.” In Shifting Frontiers of Citizenship: The Latin American Experience. Mario Sznajder, Luis Roniger, and Carlos Forment, eds. Pp. 133-154. Brill (2012)

“Bolivia’s MAS_IPSP: Movement Toward Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements. David A. Snow, Donatella Della Porta, Bert Klanermans, Doug McAdam, eds. Wiley-Blackwell (2012)

“Confounding Cultural Citizenship and Constitutional Reform in Bolivia” Latin American Perspectives 37 (3): 71-90 (2010)

Roosters at Midnight: Indigenous Signs and Stigma in Local Bolivian Politics. Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press (2010)

“Neoliberal Cultural Heritage and Bolivia’s New Indigenous Public” In Ethnographies of Neoliberalism. Carol Greenhouse, ed. Pp. 146-161.Philadelphia:University of Pennsylvania Press.(2010)

“Democracy’s Labor: Disjunctive Memory in a Bolivian Worker’s Union” Latin American Perspectives 36 (5): 39-57 (2009)

“Indigenous Politics in Bolivia’s Evo Era: Clientelism, Llunkerío, and the Problem of Stigma” Urban Anthropology 36 (3): 281-320 (2007)

“The Culture of Democracy and Bolivia’s Indigenous Movements” Critique of Anthropology 24 (6): 387-410 (2006)

“Actualidades: Bolivia’s ‘Evo Phenomenon’: From Identity to What?” Journal of Latin American Anthropology 12 (1): 408-428 (2006)

“The Indigenous in the Plural in Bolivian Oppositional Politics” Bulletin of Latin American Research 24 (4): 433-454 (2005)

“‘The Water is Ours, Carajo!’: Deep Citizenship in Bolivia’s Water War” In Social Movements: An Anthropological Reader. June Nash, editor. Pp. 249-271. Basil Blackwell. (2005)

“Reciprocity and Realpolitik: Image, Career, and Factional Genealogies in Provincial Bolivia” American Ethnologist Vol. 28 (1): 56-93 (2001)

“Fictive Feasting: Mixing and Parsing Bolivian Popular Identity” Anthropology and Humanism Vol. 25 (2): 142-157 (2001)

“As Witness to Literary Spectacle: The Personality of Folklore in Provincial Bolivian Politics” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies Vol. 9 (3): 305-332 (2000)

“The Populist Chola: Cultural Mediation and the Political Imagination in Quillacollo, Bolivia” Journal of Latin American Anthropology Vol. 5 (2): 30-88 (2000)

“Neoliberal Ritualists of Urkupiña: Bedeviling Patrimonial Identity in a Bolivian Patronal Fiesta” Ethnology Vol. 37 (2): 133-64 (1998)

“Introduction: A New Time and Place for Bolivian Popular Politics” Ethnology Vol. 37 (2): 99-115 (1998)

“Virtual Patriliny: Image Mutability and Populist Politics in Quillacollo, Bolivia” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 20 (1): 73-92 (1997)