ArticlePDF Available

Reclaiming Modernity: Indigenous Cosmopolitanism and the Coming of the Second Revolution in Bolivia


Abstract and Figures

In this article I explore the emergence of complicated new forms of indigeneity in Bolivia over the last 15 years. I argue that although what I describe as a second revolution is under way in contemporary Bolivia, there is a danger that this revolution will be misread by scholars, political commentators, and others because of the prevailing tendency to interpret social and moral movements in Bolivia (and elsewhere) in rigidly neopolitical–economic terms. I offer an alternative theoretical framework for understanding current developments in Bolivia, which I describe as “indigenous cosmopolitanism”: the ability of national political leaders, youth rappers in El Alto, rural indigenous activists, and others to bring together apparently disparate discursive frameworks as a way of reimagining categories of belonging in Bolivia, and, by extension, the meanings of modernity itself.
Content may be subject to copyright.
George Mason University
Reclaiming modernity:
Indigenous cosmopolitanism and the coming of the second
revolution in Bolivia
In this article I explore the emergence of
complicated new forms of indigeneity in Bolivia over
the last 15 years. I argue that although what I
describe as a second revolution is under way in
contemporary Bolivia, there is a danger that this
revolution will be misread by scholars, political
commentators, and others because of the prevailing
tendency to interpret social and moral movements
in Bolivia (and elsewhere) in rigidly
neopolitical–economic terms. I offer an alternative
theoretical framework for understanding current
developments in Bolivia, which I describe as
“indigenous cosmopolitanism”: the ability of
national political leaders, youth rappers in El Alto,
rural indigenous activists, and others to bring
together apparently disparate discursive frameworks
as a way of reimagining categories of belonging in
Bolivia, and, by extension, the meanings of
modernity itself. [cosmopolitanism, indigenous
peoples, resistance, moral imagination, revolution,
modernity, Bolivia, Andes, Latin America]
The WaynaTambo Youth Cultural Centeris easy to miss. It sits tucked
away on one of El Alto’s many semipaved streets, away from the
center of a city that is exploding in population, political conscious-
ness, social militancy, and self-assertion. The Cultural Center itself
is marked by one of those roughly drawn handmade signs that are
ubiquitous in Bolivia: a simple metal sheet bolted above a corrugated metal
door,midblock within a hastily constr ucted two-floor building. Becausethis
El Alto neighborhood is part of the relatively less densely populated north-
west side of town, the buildings are not as tightly packed together, the streets
are not as bustling with people as El Altos centro. This means that although
the price of property is not as high in this barrio, the altiplano winds blow
through the streets more fiercely and unrelentingly. But it also means that
the Wayna Tambo Cultural Center is removed from the political and social
cacophony of the city’s central barrios. And its isolation from the crises of
everyday life is what draws the youth of El Alto and La Paz to it.
Inside WaynaTambo,newly urbanized campesino adolescents who speak
Quechua, Aymara, and Spanish—and idiosyncratic Hispano-Amerindian
hybrids—are constructing new forms of cosmopolitanism that combine
an emergent indigeneity with other, more global forms of inclusion,
and in doing so are, in a small way, reclaiming the meanings and pos-
sibilities of Bolivia’s modernity. To reclaim the Bolivian modern, the
youth of Wayna Tambo do not turn—as their fathers and mothers would
have—to the easy certainties of Latin American historical materialism,
or—as their grandparents would have—to the rousing exhortations of
Bolivian nationalism; rather, they turn to rap music. When Abraham
orquez, one of the leaders of El Alto’s rap movement (known locally
as “Wayna Rap”), sings defiantly, “¡estamos con la raza, yo!,” he is envi-
sioning a new type of sociopolitical citizenship, a new framework of be-
longing in which Bolivia’s disaffected and marginalized are brought to-
gether with other members of “the race”: urban African Americans, Pariss
North African immigrants,1the Maori of Aucklands forgotten south side.
orquez and the other members of the Wayna Rap movement would
AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 634–649, ISSN 0094-0496, electronic
ISSN 1548-1425. C
2006 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved.
Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through
the University of California Presss Rights and Permissions website,
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
undoubtedly understand the message behind the Nesian
Mystik album “Polysaturated”: If the urban indigenous are
saturated with rage, hopelessness, and the sirensong of what
James Ferguson (1999) called the “expectations of moder-
nity,” they are also saturated with a new sense of global be-
longing, the ability to harness culture for aesthetic as well as
political purposes, and the desire to reclaim, to demand, to
take back the potentialities within what John D. Kelly (2002)
has described as the “modernist sublime.
Although the legacy of oppression, in New Zealand as
in Bolivia, seeps into every pore of the body politic, Wayna
Rap and the other youth creators of indigenous cosmopoli-
tanism in El Alto deracinate this legacy through their music.
By refusing to accede to all of the traditional categories of
Bolivian identity (campesino, Indian, Aymara, Quechua,
runa, q’ara), the rappers of Wayna Tambo are part of a sec-
ond revolution in Bolivia, one that is not their grandparents
revolution, even though the tires still burn at the blockades,
the air is still thick with tear gas, and the rubber bullets
are all too often replaced with the real thing. This second
Bolivian revolution is essentially discursive. Inprojecting the
moral imagination beyond the boundaries of the Bolivian
nation-state, in envisioning forms of global belonging that
draw on the Bolivian indigenous imaginary but without re-
gard to the heavy expectations of both modernity and tradi-
tional forms of indigeneity, Bolivia’s hip-hop generation cre-
ates more than music: They create new discursive categories
through which political–economic problems in Bolivia can
be understood and, more importantly, repositioned.
Meanwhile, below the Ceja del Alto, the aptly named
edge of the massive gash in the earth into which one de-
scends from El Alto to La Paz, another indigenous cos-
mopolitanism is emerging, although this one does not draw
from an artistic or more broadly aesthetic cosmovision;
rather, at the headquarters of the Movimiento al Social-
ismo (MAS), at meetings of the Vanguardia Universitaria
held in the courtyard of the main university’s law faculty,
and in gatherings of the Asamblea Permanente de Derechos
Humanos de La Paz, among other places, a reconstituted
indigeneity is being located within a more modest, regional
universe, one that has given the South American New Left
the ability to draw from both neo-Marxism and neoliberal-
ismwithout contradiction or discredit. TakeMAS’sstatement
of ideological principles, which was still being refined dur-
ing the summer of 2005, even as Evo Morales, MASs leader,
was surging in several national opinion polls in anticipa-
tion of the December 2005 national elections (see note 9).
At the same time MAS declares itself to be opposed to the
static Newtonian worldview embodied by protoliberal the-
orists like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, it borrows from
these same social contract theorists in envisioning a postrev-
olutionary Bolivia founded on human rights (principle 2),
participatory democracy (principle 3), respect for difference
(principle 6), and liberty (principle 9).
Indeed, one could hardly find a better symbol of con-
temporary Latin America’s complicated modernity than
this statement of ideological principles, in which Newton,
“Jhon” Locke (with the common Bolivian rendering of the
English “John”), Hobbes, and Adam Smith make an appear-
ance along with references to the cosmology of Western cul-
ture, the Industrial Revolution, Homo Faber, the folly of the
U.S.-led coca leaf eradication campaign, globalization, neo-
colonialism, the principle of a living planet expressed by
Pachamama, a letter written to George Washington by an
“indigenous leader of the redskins,” the philosophy of the
Ayllu, structural adjustment, and the vaguely utopian writ-
ings of the Club of Rome.
MAS’s radically hybrid indigenous cosmopolitanism is
a striking example of what Pheng Cheah has described
as “the cosmopolitical”: a political worldview that am-
biguously straddles the line between “mass-based forms
of global consciousness, [and] . . . existing imagined politi-
cal . . . communities (1998:32). The indigenous cosmopoli-
tanism of MAS illustrates, in other words, a peculiar para-
dox: At the same time MAS articulates its ideological
principles within a formally unitary cosmopolitan frame-
work, it does so by bringing together both multiple—
and competing—cosmopolitanisms and noncosmopolitan
regional—and even national—frames of reference. To de-
scribe this paradox in practice is not the same as simply
recognizing in MAS an example of “actually existing cos-
mopolitanism”(Robbins 1998); rather, MAS and other actors
in the recent social movements in Bolivia force us to think of
cosmopolitanism in a completely different way, as a political
and, even more, moral category unmoored from its Kantian
Regardless of the subtle differences between these two
types of indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia, both are at
the foundation of what is an emergent revolution, a second
revolution (after the National Revolution of 1952), and one
that brings the political and moral together within new dis-
cursive articulations. All of this will be examined in detail be-
low. But even though scholars, journalists, and activists have
written about the transformations in Bolivia since 1999 as if a
revolution were imminent (or already unfolding), it is a basic
argument of this article that Bolivia’s second revolution has
been, so far, not well understood. In 1991, Orin Starn pub-
lished what became an extremely provocative and contro-
versial article in Cultural Anthropology, in which he chided
anthropologists for “missing the revolution” in Peru (1991).2
He argued that mainstream and influential anthropologists
of the Andes were blinded by what he called “Andeanism”:
the tendency to romanticize especially rural Andean peoples
and to reify them within prefigured historical and intellec-
tual categories, categories that were not able to account for
either the rise of Sendero Luminoso, or to process the real-
ities of brutality and horror that were experienced by wide
swaths of Peru’s rural population. Instead of overprivileging
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
the symbolic and discursive lives of peoples and communi-
ties in Peru, Starn wanted anthropologists to broaden their
analytical frameworks to include the political and economic
networks that enmesh Andean peoples, the geopolitical con-
texts that shape national policies in the Andean countries,
and the struggles of people in towns and rural villages to
resist the impact of these broader forces, even if such resis-
tance took forms that were not “traditional,” or that revealed
both the internal diversity within rural areas and an essential
conservatism (see also Starn 1994, 1999).
This article is not the application of Starns critique to
contemporary Bolivianist anthropology, and not only be-
cause anthropology has moved well beyond the academic–
political ferment of the early 1990s, when rigid—and,
sometimes, deceptive (see Lewis 1999)—lines were drawn
in the epistemological sand; rather, it is that the prob-
lem for anthropologists—and others—writing about current
Bolivian culture and politics is exactly the opposite of what
Starn described for Peru. The danger is not that the sec-
ond revolution in Bolivia will be missed by anyone; it is that
it will be misread. The reason is not that anthropologists
have ignored the wider political and economic factors that
shape the practice of everyday life in Bolivia; if anything, they
have been overemphasized at the expense of just the type
of “Andean” discursivity that Starn believed had been inap-
propriately romanticized. To understand how new forms of
indigenous cosmopolitanism are fueling shifts along several
key cultural and political fault lines in Bolivia, shifts that are
eitheractually or,possibly, revolutionary,it is necessary to re-
frame ongoing political and social struggles to take account
of the broader moral and discursive contexts that give these
current struggles both meaning and their radical potential.
This calls for a different kind of Andeanism and a willingness
to confront the fact that indigeneity as an analytical category
mustnot be conflated with indigenismo,which,as Marisol de
la Cadena has convincingly argued (2000), continues to serve
as an ideological medium through which national strug-
gles over race, class, gender, and indigenousness are played
Rainbow resistance
Like all summarizing key symbols (Ortner 1973), the
wiphalas meanings resist both parsing into constituent
parts and historical elaboration. The wiphala is a square
flag or banner that contains 49 smaller squares, of equal
size, which are divided into 6 of the 7 colors of the rainbow,
plus white. The squares are arranged on the wiphala so that
the colors pass across the flag diagonally, in a pattern that
suggests unending recurrence (see Figure 1). Although the
wiphala’s presence in Bolivian social movements predates
the current period—indeed, its mythic antiquity is part of
its power—it has increasingly become the symbol of Boli-
vian indigeneity since the early 1990s, an indigeneity that is
Figure 1. The wiphala. Photo courtesy of the Consejo Andino de Naciones
defined by both resistance and new forms of collective asser-
tion (see Figure 2). And beyond these, the wiphala has also
come to express an emergent indigenous cosmopolitanism,
which brings together Bolivia’s different originarios, or “or ig-
inal ones,” with all of the “First Nations” of the Americas (see
Figures 3 and 4).3
The basic historical outline of the most recent period of
indigenous mobilization and resistance in Bolivia has been
developed in many forms (by academics and journalists)
and can be quickly summarized. The year 1990 is a water-
shed moment in this history. That was a year in which 700
indigenous Bolivians anticipated the hemispheres impend-
ing 1992 500 Years Celebration by marching for 35 days from
Trinidad, in the lowlands, to La Paz. By the time they arrived,
el movimiento was born, and in the process Bolivian indige-
nousness had been recast within a wider universe, symbol-
ized by the wiphalas that the marchers carried along the
route. By 1992, the 500 Years Celebration had given way to
500 Years of Resistance and, a year later, in 1993, the first
self-identified indigenous Bolivian was elected to high of-
fice: V´
ıctor Hugo C´
ardenas Conde, who entered office as
Gonzalo S´
anchez de Lozada’s vice president. The elevation
of C´
ardenas was extraordinary for several reasons, not the
least of which was the fact that he was the Aymara leader
of the Tupaj Katari Revolutionary Movement for Liberation
(MRTKL), which was the only remaining katarista political
party by the early 1990s.4The first S´
anchez de Lozada (1993–
97)government representedthe peak of neoliberal optimism
in Bolivia, in which the privatization of natural resources
and the outsourcing of utility concerns was combined with
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
Figure 2. Protests in La Paz, June 2005. Photo courtesy of Nick Buxton.
progressive social and legal reforms that emphasized bilin-
gual education, the decentralization of decision-making au-
thority over resource allocation, and the implementation
at the national legal level of different international human
rights norms, especially those involving the rights of “indige-
nous and tribal peoples.”5
Despite the relative calm throughout Bolivia during the
mid-1990s, and the rise of a discourse of multiculturalism—
one, surprisingly enough, accepted by the La Pazelite, less so
by the neo-hacendado landowners in Santa Cruz—signs of
trouble began to appear after one of the most controversial
components of Goni’s (as S ´
anchez de Lozada is universally
referred to in Bolivia) reform agenda was passed in 1996:
the Ley de Tierras (Land Law), which was meant to replace
much of the existing agrarian reform legislation. Almost im-
mediately, the new legislation and the institute that was
charged with implementing it—the Instituto Nacional de la
Reforma Agraria (INRA)—became the targets of intense crit-
icism within Bolivia from both indigenous groups and their
collaborators within the intelligentsia (Sol´
on 1997; see also
Antezana 1999). This opposition to Bolivia’s commitment to
neoliberalismintensified during the late 1990s,as the center-
right government of Hugo BanzerSu ´
arez (now president,not
colonel) most provocatively went ahead with a plan to sell
the concession to provide water to the Cochabamba Valley
to Aguas de Tunari, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based multi-
national Bechtel Corporation. Once the water services had
been privatized, prices rose dramatically within a very short
period and social unrest soon followed, which culminated
in the so-called Bolivian Water War of late 1999 and early
2000. As a result of this massive uprising, in which one youth
was killed and dozens injured bysoldiers, the Banzer govern-
ment was forced to cancel its contract with Bechtel in April
After Goni was elected for a second time in 2002—
defeating Banzer’s vice president Jorge Quiroga, who had
stepped in to finish Banzer’s term after Banzer had been
forced to resign with inoperable lung cancer—the focus of
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
Figure 3. Political poster from the north of Potos´
ı Department, 2005. Photo
by M. Goodale.
critical attention shifted from water to natural gas and coca.
Thisshift was also locational:from the Cochabamba Valleyto
Tar ija (wherethe second largest natural gas reserves in South
America are located), the Chapare (the site of widespread
coca leaf cultivation destined for global cocaine markets),
and El Alto (a rapidly growing city of 750,000 people, which
became the epicenter for the activities of the most radi-
cal social and political parties, including the Movimiento
ıgena Pachakuti, Los Mallkus, under the leadership of
Felipe Quispe).7A perfect storm of social resistance devel-
oped in 2003, as controversy over a proposed government
contract to build a natural gas pipeline through Chile came
together with both the growing unease over the willingness
of the Goni government to follow the Bush administration’s
demands to implement draconian anticoca measures, in-
cluding a dramatic militarization of the issue along the lines
of Plan Colombia, and the lingering resentment and mis-
trust that remained from the Water War in the Cochabamba
Valley. The result was what has come to be known in
Bolivia as Black October: Goni, at the urging of top generals,
ordered the military to take violent measures to clear block-
ades of roads between El Alto and La Paz and to put an end
to street protests that had crippled the central districts of La
Paz. At least 100 people were shot down in the streets in El
Alto alone; there were also deaths and scores of casualties in
La Paz.
Figure 4. The wiphala is raised over Toronto by the Consejo Andino de
Naciones Originarias to celebrate the fall equinox, 2002. Photo courtesy of
the Consejo Andino de Naciones Originarias.
This was effectively the end of Goni’s second govern-
ment, and he was forced to resign and go into voluntary
exile to the United States, which was not surprising given
that his identification with the United States—including his
American” accent in Spanish, which has been a source of
ridicule in the Bolivian press for many years—was partly
to blame for his downfall and eventual disgrace, something
that severed any remaining association between Goni and
the early years of neoliberal confidence. Between 2003 and
2005, Bolivia’s troubles continued under Goni’s vice presi-
dent, Carlos Mesa Gisbert, a popular journalist and member
of an extended family of famous Bolivian historians. Despite
relatively conciliatory gestures on Mesa’s part, his admin-
istration could not quell the expanding social movement
in Bolivia, which by 2004 had become disconnected from
particular issues—even if natural gas or coca eradication or
police brutality continued to provide reference points—to
becomea sustained mass uprisingcomprised of an amalgam
of rural and urban political parties and groups concentrated
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
in the altiplano and parts of the Bolivian lowlands, where
the Movimiento Sin Tierra (Landless Movement) engaged in
a series of forced occupations of absentee landholdings.
Waiting to exhale
By June 2005, after several weeks of blockades and nego-
tiations between Mesa and the leaders of MIP, MAS, and
other antigovernment coalitions, like Goni before him, Mesa
agreed to step down, paving the way for the president of
the constitutional court, Eduardo Rodr´
ıguez, to serve as
caretaker president until new elections could be held in
December 2005. Still to be resolved were conflicts over the
nation’s hydrocarbons, a contract with a French multina-
tional to provide water services to El Alto, calls for semiau-
tonomy by the center-right business leaders of Santa Cruz,
and the growing problem of vigilantism and the use of lynch-
ingsagainst alleged thieves and otherpetty criminals, among
many others.8Despite a period of relative calm, in which
both Bolivia and its neighbors wait with bated breath for the
results of the national election, one thing has not changed:
the fact of a new social contract in Bolivia, in which indige-
nous people project their identities, their demand for inclu-
sion, within an expanded, and, to a certain extent, radically
different universe.9
Indigenous cosmopolitanism and the moral
In an important recent article in American Ethnologist,
Thomas Biolsi (2005) explores the relationship between
new spaces of American Indian political mobilization,
which are shifting the terms through which Indians engage
with the nation-state, and the emergence of a transnational
political subjectivity that challenges common assumptions
about the nature of the nation-state itself. In pursuing
these connections, Biolsi analyzes four distinct categories
of indigenous political space: the tribal space; a space of
comanagement of resources between tribal, federal, and
state levels; a transnational political space, in which Indians
press claims beyond their particular nations or reserva-
tions; and what could be understood as an international
political space, in which aspects of Indian subjectivity are
constituted in part through the contested interrelationship
between tribal and federal law, both of which are mediated
by a more diffuse set of expectations and norms derived
from U.S. multiculturalism. In moving between and within
these different, but overlapping, spaces of political and legal
engagement, contemporary American Indians assert new
forms of self-identity and belonging that call into question
dominant understandings of citizenship, nationalism,
the legal categories of residency and domicile, and the
foundations of civil and political rights.
At one level, the American Indian presence within and
across these multiple political spaces is a mundanely phys-
ical one. As Biolsi says, “one should not be surprised to find
‘Indians in unexpected places’” (2005:249; in Deloria 2004).
This multiplicity is what Biolsi describes as “indigenous cos-
mopolitanism”: the fact that “Indians are at least at home
in cities, universities, the entertainment industry and mass
media, and so on, as they are on reservations” (2005:249).
This is an appropriation of what is perhaps the most com-
mon understanding of cosmopolitanism, one that describes
the practices and worldviews of typically elite travelers who
move easily between different physical locations and activ-
ities in ways that defy the expectations of more restrictive
categories of identity. The cosmopolitanism that Biolsi al-
ludes to here is that of the polymathic Renaissance human-
ists, who pursued excellence in multiple branches of science
and the arts and whose political and social commitments
transcended narrow ethnic or linguistic boundaries. What
makes the cosmopolitanism of contemporary American In-
dians indigenous for Biolsi is the fact that it is subaltern: As
Biolsi explains, Indians have forged new—and politically
more destabilizing—forms of subjectivity in part by “ex-
celling at the arts, sciences, and letters in and of the ‘domi-
nant’ society, while still being Indian” (2005:249).
As will soon be clear, my use of indigenous cosmopoli-
tanism as a way of understanding the emergence of new
forms of political and social action in Bolivia differs from
Biolsi’s in a number of important respects. Nevertheless,
I agree completely that the “modern political imaginary”
(Biolsi 2005:254) in Bolivia—as in (native) North America—
demands the attention of a “critically observant anthropol-
ogy” (2005:254), one that is finely tuned to the implications
of social and political categories that are embedded in emer-
gent theories of indigenousness.10 As I will argue below, these
implications are significant indeed. Although it is not pos-
sible to explore each of these in turn, the rise of indigenous
cosmopolitanism in Bolivia suggests that several hoary mas-
ter narratives must be rewritten, or at least revised: the domi-
nant account of revolution at the end of the 20th century; the
importance of direct political action in broader movements
for social change; the story of the relationship between elites
and Bolivia’s indigenous majority; even the master narra-
tive of Latin American modernity itself. A careful consider-
ation of indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia even casts
doubt on what can be understood as the master narrative
about master narratives in current anthropology: That unify-
ing systems of ideas and practices have either broken down
because of the concatenation of forces described through
that impossible referent “globalization,” or no longer carry
the same theoretical weight because such systems, “world-
views,” utopias, have been revealed to be instruments of il-
legitimate or authoritarian power as such. As we will see,
master narratives are essential to indigenous Bolivians as
they envision new frameworks of inclusion, new identities
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
through which very old social and economic problems can
be addressed, and, even more, understood.
Reenvisioning indigenousness, projecting the world
If the volume of recent critical and social theory on the
topic can be taken as an accurate measure of the empirical
importance of the processes it purports to explain, then
cosmopolitanism is thick on the ground. Almost ten years
before “patriotism” reemerged as a semiotic weapon in the
debates over the most recent iteration of U.S. imperialism,
Martha Nussbaum argued against narrow attachments to
place and race by reaching back into the toga-enwrapped
mists of intellectual history. In drawing on Cynic and Stoic
teachings about the importance of elevating the “moral
community made up by the humanity of all human beings”
(1996:7) above all other possibilities, Nussbaum urged
social actors and communities to prioritize the outermost
concentric circle and to “draw the circles somehow toward
the center” (1996:9, from the Stoic philosopher Hierocles).11
Writing on behalf of postcolonial and marginalized peoples,
Homi Bhabha has described the emergence of “vernacular
cosmopolitanism” (2001). This is a way of envisioning new
worlds from the margins, “not as an ongoing process of
selecting what is cool and interesting from all the world’s tra-
ditions, but rather as a montage of overlapping perspectives,
experiences, and cultures brought into contact by global mi-
grations of refugees, guest workers,and other subalter n pop-
ulations” (Stoddard and Cornwell 2003: para. 12). A groupof
cultural studies scholars has approached cosmopolitanism
in a similar way, but instead of worrying about the ways
in which the universalizing claims of global citizenship
can be cleverly vernacularized, these scholars focus on the
possibilities of a subaltern “minoritarian cosmopolitanism
(Breckenridge et al. 2002). They nevertheless refuse to define
cosmopolitanism, in part because “specifying cosmopoli-
tanism positively and definitely is an uncosmopolitan thing
to do” (2002:1); but they also hesitate to consider the con-
ceptual problems of cosmopolitanism because their study
is largely a critique of the act of defining cosmopolitanism
itself, the way dominant understandings of universal citizen-
ship have led to “a conformist sense of what it means to be
a ‘person’ as an abstract unit of cultural exchange” (2002:5).
And, finally, the political philosopher K. Anthony
Appiah has argued for the usefulness of the apparently para-
doxical notion of “cosmopolitan patriotism” (1996), which
he recently expanded and modified into the equally ap-
parently paradoxical concept of “rooted cosmopolitanism”
(2005). Writing against, among others, theorists like Isaiah
Berlin, who admire the “rootlesscosmopolitans” who moved
against the different nationalist tides in the 19th and 20th
centuries—that is, those who chose to imagine communi-
ties on a broader scale—Appiah describes a cosmopolitan
who is firmly “attached to a home of his or her own, with its
own cultural particularities, but [who takes] pleasure from
the presence of other, different, places that are home to
other, different, people” (1996:22). Appiah very much in-
tends rooted cosmopolitanism to be a way of describing
cosmopolitanism in the world, a sentiment that people in
different places, expressing different “cultural particulari-
ties,” can embrace programmatically without surrendering
the range of attachments without which social meaning and
value become abstract, artificial. Indeed, as Appiah sees it,
rooted cosmopolitanism is the best way to characterize an
emerging Weltanschauung that reflects the fact that “local
form[s] of human life [are] the result of long term and persis-
tent processes of cultural hybridization,” processes that will
determine “a world .. . much like the world we live in now”
Each of these efforts to develop the notion of cosmopoli-
tanism conceptually (Appiah), or to employ it as a way
of explaining certain patterns of transnational resistance
(Bhabha), or, finally, to reestablish it as part of a more sus-
tained argument for political change (Nussbaum), all fail, in
one way or another, to fully account for the emergence of
indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia (and, perhaps, else-
where). First, a critical aspect of cosmopolitanism is the pro-
jection of a different world, a different context beyond the
expected, in which the expected is defined in cultural, po-
litical, or national terms. But as cosmopolitanism in Bolivia
shows, the cosmos that is projected or envisioned is highly
variable and relative to the range of expected categories that
the newly projected cosmos is intended to replace or ex-
pand. In other words, there is a mistaken assumption—one
that connects most analyses of cosmopolitanism—that the
new universe that comes to determine citizenship (and be-
longing more generally) is “global,” that it must express the
widest possible framework of inclusion (e.g., “world citizen-
ship”). It is not difficult to trace the origins of this assump-
tion to the continuing influence of a particular Western in-
tellectual history of cosmopolitanism, one that begins with
classical philosophy and is reinforced with Kant’s program
for a global cosmopolitan community underpinned by a law
of world citizenship. Even though the indigenous cosmos
that is projected by Bolivians is one that extends beyond the
boundaries of the nation-state, the most that can be said
of it ontologically is that it is transnational and regional; it
is a universe that is restricted in scope. If the indigenous
Bolivian cosmos is restricted and, thus, not global in any
meaningful sense, this is not because indigenous Bolivians
have a limited understanding or knowledge of the world and
its inhabitants; the tentacles of Spanish CNN (although not,
of course, Quechua or Aymara) reach into provincial towns
and even hamlets throughout Bolivia, and indigenous chil-
dren in the norte de Potos´
ıcan discuss the relative merits
of the Simpsons and Japanese anime (esp. Dragon Ball Z)
with equal authority (see Goodale 2001, n.d.). Rather, what
indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia demonstrates is that
a cosmos, projected as a new and more expansive framework
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
of essential inclusion, can be both translocal and transna-
tional and nonglobal and nonuniversal at the same time.13
So, even though indigenous Bolivians project a new cosmos
as a way of breaking free from, or resisting, all of the ex-
pected historical and cultural categories within Bolivia, they
do not, in the process, envision a world in which they are es-
sentially the same in rights and obligations as everyone else,
indigenous or not. Even so, the essence of cosmopolitanism
is still present: the desire to project a new world beyond the
If the dominant perspectives on cosmopolitanism are
mistaken about the scope at which new worlds can, and,
more important, are, projected, they seem to revolvea round
an equally mistaken understanding of the mechanics of
identity formation as a matter of practice. Again, one
detects the influence of a particular intellectual history of
cosmopolitanism here, the one that scholars like Nussbaum
have attempted to reinscribe within current political and
intellectual frameworks. Understoodin this way, cosmopoli-
tanism is a process through which one reorients identity
to privilege the outermost circle within a set of concentric
circles. Notice the different assumptions here: One’s identity
is defined by a series of constituent (sub)identities; each
subidentity is distinct from the other; each subidentity
(male, Christian, American, truck driver, Bostonian,
Bolivian, etc.) is comfortably nestled within ever
increasing—or decreasing, depending on the angle—
degrees of inclusion (or exclusion); and, finally, the degrees
of inclusion (or exclusion) that define the concentric
circles of one’s identity are infused with a kind of “ethics of
identity” (Appiah), which favors the most inclusive circle
and is skeptical of the least.
Although this concentric circle approach to identity is
perhaps analytically convenient, it cannot begin to capture
the complexity of identity formation in Bolivia, or anywhere
else for that matter. Identity among indigenous Bolivians is
multiple, contested, dynamic, and often contradictory; in
Bolivia one is, and is not, many things at the same time.
These different dimensions of identity cannot be parsed into
hierarchically related constituent parts; this is not how peo-
ple experience themselves in the world, and any attempt
to describe identity in these terms is seriously misleading.
This means that if indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia
reflects, in part, a shift in identity, a change in the way peo-
ple position themselves in relation to others, then this shift
cannot be explained as a change in the way people privi-
lege the different levels of identity, because identity is not
formed in this way. Instead, cosmopolitanism reflects the
projection or envisioning of a different cosmos within which
one’s identity itself is redefined or given new meaning. When
young rappers in El Alto rail against oppression against in-
digenous people, in Bolivia and elsewhere,they are envision-
ing a world in which their identities are relocated and thereby
reinscribed within all of the existing cultural, economic, and
political categories of meaning in Bolivia, regardless of the
eventual effects—political or otherwise—of this projection.
To return to Appiah’s argument for “rooted cosmopoli-
tanism”: Although his is perhaps an exaggerated example
of this tendency, theorists of cosmopolitanism across the
range have given it a kind of normativity that can also be
tracked to antiquity, when cosmopolitanism emerged from
reflections on ethics. In this framing, it is an unqualified eth-
ical good to “draw the circles somehow toward the center”;
in other words, cosmopolitanism is virtuous. This is what
Eve Walsh Stoddard and Grant Cornwell have in mind when
they describe Nussbaum’s neo-Stoic cosmopolitanism as an
“ethicalcosmopolitanism” (2003).14 Without this underlying
ethical normativity, in which cosmopolitanism is treated as
if it were a kind of Kantian categorical imperative,15 it is very
difficult indeed to explain Appiah’s argument that contem-
porary cosmopolitanism does—and should—depend on a
person’s ability to find pleasure in the mere fact of differ-
ence, a notion that finds very little support in any general
cultural or historical facts.
Indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia is, however, eth-
ically neutral. What I mean is that indigenous political lead-
ers, youth rappers, and others who are responsible for the
emergence of a cosmopolitan worldview in Bolivia do not
envision new universes of indigeneity because it is virtuous
or good or a reflection of moral development. In fact, this
is precisely why it is difficult to interpret the emergence of
cosmopolitanism in Bolivia as Cosmopolitanism. The tra-
ditional idea of cosmopolitanism implies a self-conscious
individual or collective attempt to project categories of be-
longing beyond the narrow, the local, the national, for a very
specific reason: because this projection is compelled by a
preexisting ethical or political theory or ideology that both
defines identity in these scalar terms and then normatively
privileges the broadest circle of inclusion at the expense of
all the others (as I have described above). This traditional
idea of cosmopolitanism, which has now become a transna-
tional discourse, does not resonate in Bolivia, and those who
project or envision an indigenous cosmopolitan world do
not justify their writings or political resistance or rap lyrics
on the basis of an abstract principle of the good or within
a well-developed moral framework that has something nor-
mativeto say about the changing nature of identity in Bolivia.
Rather, the reasons for the emergence of indigenous
cosmopolitanism—if they can be drawn out at all—are, not
surprisingly, multiple. Indigenousness is reenvisioned be-
cause it is part of the broader struggle for political power; in-
digenous cosmopolitanism represents a discursive weapon
to be used against entrenched elites in Bolivia, which, no
matter how understandable, could hardly be described as
a virtuous—in the classical sense—exercise of the moral
imagination; and, in its expression through the Movimiento
ıgena Pachakuti (MIP) and its fiery leader, Felipe Quispe
(aka El Mallku), indigenous cosmopolitanism becomes a
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
highly polished strategy for excluding and then defeating
rivals within the indigenous movement itself. As Quispe re-
cently put it (2005), in explaining why the indigenous vision
of MIP is authentic while MAS’s (and, thus, Evo Morales’s) is
not, “I have studied Machiavelli and the psychology of our
people. ...I project myself for 100 years. ...I am not seek-
ing immediate results. MIP is a project for the indigenous
nation as a whole.”16 Notice both his striking candor and
his sophisticated understanding of European political the-
ory.Moreover,by asserting that he “projects [himself ] for 100
years,” Quispe expresses a complicated type of indigenous
cosmopolitanism, in which one individual, who has come to
embody indigenousness itself for many Bolivians, can bring
a new cosmos into being through a sheer force of will. There
is something positively Whitmanesque about El Mallku.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for my purposes
here, most studies of cosmopolitanism make the mistake
of framing its actual or prospective emergence in largely
political or instrumental terms. This is, again, a legacy of
a particular intellectual history, in which cosmopolitanism
was understood quite literally, as Nussbaum emphasizes in
her appropriation of this history (1996:7). In other words,
cosmopolitanism was originally a much more limited idea,
one that expressed the virtue of the world citizen (kosmou
es), in which citizenship denoted membership in a
quite circumscribed political community, a membership
that entailed particular political rights and obligations. But
with indigenous cosmopolitanism in Bolivia, the kosmou
is much more important than the politˆ
es. The projection
of an indigenous world beyond the expected categories
should not be understood exclusively in political terms,
despite its connection with current political struggles;
rather, the political and instrumental (and even the legal)
merely mediate what can be more usefully understood as a
radical exercise of the moral imagination. So, even though
Cheah and Robbins gesture toward this key feature of
cosmopolitanism in exploring what it means to “think and
feel beyond the nation,” they obscure the real importance
of thinking and feeling as a type of moral projection when
they characterize it as an expression of “cosmopolitics.” To
understand cosmopolitanism beyond the narrowly political
is to also understand how many indigenous Bolivians can
be both thoroughly cosmopolitan and, for the most part,
politically uncommitted. Many key social actors in the norte
de Potos´
ı, for example, whom I have described elsewhere
as “rural-legal intellectuals” (Goodale 2001, 2002), embody
precisely this combination, particularly those who have
embraced human rights or social justice discourses over the
last 15 years as part of transnational development activities
based in Bolivia’s most impoverished regions.
Utopian and hip-hop cosmopolitanism
The Movimiento Originario Popular (MOP) is a relatively
new social and political party that is most active in Bolivia’s
norte de Potos´
ı region. It is, in many ways, the nortepotosino
expression of a particular type of indigenous movement in
Bolivia, one that has been most clearly represented by MIP
and its leader Felipe Quispe. But as relatively small as Bolivia
is, it is nevertheless strictly divided by regions, a type of di-
vision that is reinforced by the difficulty in communication
between regions and even townsand hamlets within regions,
differences in first language, and the sheer extremeness of
Bolivia’s topography, which creates a series of sparsely popu-
lated cultural islands within a landscape of high mountains,
vasthigh plains, and dense lowland forests.17 So,even though
MIP is representedin the nor te de Potos´
ı (and is referenced in
political iconography; see Figure 3), it is still identified with
La Paz Department and its primarily Aymara first-language
provinces. The norte de Potos´
ı is much more linguistically
diverse, with Quechua and Aymara mixed together as first
languages within the same provinces—for example, in the
province Alonso de Iba˜
nez, the one I know the best—and
even within the same cantons. And there are other ethnic
boundary markers that separate the norte de Potos´
the heart of MIP country in La Paz Department: clothing
patterns, different ayllus, proximity to the great mining cen-
ters, and proximity to La Paz, among others. Nevertheless,
despite the fact that MOP is not nearly as well-established
as MIP—either nationally, or within its home region—it has
managed to fundamentally shift relations of power in the
norte de Potos´
ı. In the town of Sacaca, the capital of the
province Alonso de Iba˜
nez, the alcald´
ıa, or mayor’s office,
which had always been controlled by a local sacaque˜
no oli-
garchy of male vecinos (lit. “neighbors”), had by June 2005
fallen into the hands of MOP. The MOP alcalde, or mayor, did
not even live in Sacaca itself but was from Layumpampa, an
important cantonal capital about one hour’s walking dis-
tance from Sacaca.
Now what is so important for my purposes here about
the rise of MOP in the norte de Potos´
ı, and its political
takeover of the province’s branches of political power,18 is
the discourse through which MOP captured the regional in-
digenous imaginary. MOP leaders completely bypassed all
of the traditional discursive categories that had been used,
at least since the 1952 National Revolution, to frame a se-
ries of much older political and social problems in the norte
de Potos´
ı: the problem of land ownership and land tenure
more generally, especially the pressure to “rationalize” own-
ership (read: privatize) within hamlets and re-renew corpo-
rate titles with departmental agencies; the fact that political
power in rural provinces had traditionally been monopo-
lized by mestizo townspeople; the chronic tendency toward
microdivision of land over time and the need for both rural–
rural and rural–urban migration (including, from Alonso
de Iba˜
nez, regular migration to the coca fields of the Cha-
pare); and the basic problem of governmental inattention to
provinceslike Alonsode Iba ˜
nez,in which both economic and
political capital are kept close to the departmental centers
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
around Potos´
ı and then are distributed in concentric circles
until they dry up long before they reach the far northwest
of the department.19 At least since the first Bolivian revo-
lution, these issues were framed within a hybrid socialist–
nationalist discourse, which both denounced the problems
of Bolivia’s campesinos—and those responsible for them—
as anti-Bolivian (or contrary to the interests of la patria) and
argued that such problems were simply part of a particular
historical epoch whose intrinsic contradictions pointed to
its eventual transformation.
Since the mid-1990s (and, esp., since the watershed year
1999), these problems have been reinterpreted through a
much different, cosmopolitan, discourse, one that is an-
chored in an indigenous imaginary that is both empowering
and utopian. Look again at Figure 3. The colors of the wiphala
provide the background, one that, as I have already de-
scribed, stands in for individual political candidates in cases
in which their photographs were not available.It is the center
of this political poster that, more than anything else here, ex-
presses a utopian variation on indigenous cosmopolitanism.
A man and woman stand equally positioned, something that
reflects the ideal gender relationship of complementarity,
an idealization that is captured by the Quechua expression
“tukuy ima qhariwarmi”—“everything is man-and-woman
(cf. Isbell 1976, 1978; see also Harris 2000).20 Both figures are
dressed in the most symbolically indigenous clothing pos-
sible and not, importantly, in the clothing of rural peasant
syndicalists, which would have been the case even ten years
ago.They bothhold a pututu in one hand,the ubiquitous cow
horn (or seashell in other parts of the Andes) that is used to
signal danger and call people together. The pututu was also
the military trumpet used by the armies of Tupaj Katari in
the rebellion of the late 18th century, and, in fact, the male
figure in this political poster from 2005 is most likely a re-
production of a popular image of Tupaj Katari himself (see
Figure 5). In their other hands, the woman holds a wiphala
and the man a military rifle. To complete this complicated
example of indigenous cosmopolitan iconography, the two
figures flank an image of Wiracocha, the Sun God, as de-
picted above the Gateway to the Sun at the archaeological
site at Tiahuanaco near Lake Titicaca.
This political poster—and the wider discursive moves of
the MOP in the norte de Potos´
ı that it represents—combines
symbols of indigenous power (the military rifle of Tupaj
Katari,the head of Wiracocharadiatingsunbeams), vigilance
and resistance (the pututu, the image of indigenous peo-
ple on the march), and cosmic balance (man and woman
equally positioned), and refracts them through an emerging
cosmopolitanism represented by the transnational colors of
the wiphala. The utopianism of this iconographic projection
of the indigenous moral imaginary is perhaps most overt in
the way the colors of the wiphala fade and shimmer across
the poster, something that was likely done for aesthetic rea-
sons but that nevertheless highlights the fact that the indige-
Figure 5. Popular representation of Tupaj Katari, who led a doomed rebel-
lion against the Spanish in the late 18th century. Image courtesy of the
Consejo Andino de Naciones Originarias.
nous world that is being projected is as much imaginary (and
utopian) as real.21
Back at the Wayna Tambo Cultural Center in El Alto,
Abraham Boj´
orquez and the other members of the Wayna
Rap movement are elaborating on yet another variation on
indigenous cosmopolitanism (see Figure 6). Most of the El
Alto rappers are children of the generation that poured into
the city during the mid-1980s as a result of neoliberal aus-
terity programs, which caused massive unemployment—
especially among miners—and internal migration. Their
eventual response to this social and economic disruption
should not be surprising. Similar second-generational ur-
ban youth movements, in which new cultural—or, in Dick
Hebdiges framing, subcultural (1979)—forms (esp. music)
are used to both derive meaning from, and resist, disloca-
tion and alienation, have emerged in Britain (Hall and Jeffer-
son 1976; Hebdige 1979), South Africa (Erlmann 1999), and
elsewhere.22 It is no coincidence that the young indigenous
cosmopolitans of El Alto use rap or hip-hop as a preferred
mode of (sub)cultural production (see, e.g., Dyson 1997;
Flores 2000), although other musical forms, such as “hard-
core”(as another Wayna Tambo musician described it, using
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
Figure 6. El Alto’s youth rappers pose in front of the Wayna Tambo Cultural
Center in April 2005. Photo courtesy of Jaqueline Calatayud.
the English), are also emerging to serve the same set of com-
plication functions.
As Santos Callejas, one of the directors of Wayna Tambo,
explained during an interview in July 2005, the rappers and
other youth musicians borrow from a transnational hip-hop
culture in a way that projects a “space of expression” be-
yond El Alto’s narrow and dusty streets, but without sacri-
ficing the meanings that locate their songs within a long
indigenous tradition of musical and cultural hybridity. An-
other leader at Wayna Tambo, Jeaneth Calatayud, explained
that El Alto’s rappers were “negotiating between politics and
culture” in ways that expressed a sophisticated awareness
of their own power as cultural innovators and moral actors.
This power is recognized by both the adult leaders of El Alto’s
different political movements, and the rappers’ own par-
ents, whose bowler hats and polleras (multilayered women’s
skirts) reflect an earlier period of indigenous cultural and
aesthetic appropriation. Jeaneth described a scene in which
the mother of Grover Canaviri, a rapper with another Wayna
Tambo group called Los Clandestinos ( The Clandestines),
listened patiently to a Saturday recording session, Saturdays
being the days when the entire El Alto rap scene converges
on Wayna Tambo to try out new lyrics and record programs
for Radia Wayna Tambo, which is heard in both El Alto and
La Paz. After the music was over, Canaviri’s mother turned to
Jeaneth and said that even though she did not understand
the music, she was proud of her son for creating it.
El Alto’s youth rappers adopt the baggy clothing of the
Latin American artists they see on MTV and create a hip-
hop vernacular that brings Aymara and Quechua words
and expressions together with Spanish and exclamations
that were perhaps originally English but that now reflect
a transnational musical Esperanto (like the “yo” in “esta-
mos con la raza, yo”). This cultural appropriation can also
be seen in the names they adopt for themselves and their
groups, something which is perhaps no better illustrated
than through the stage name of one rapper—MC Choclo,
which brings the transnational rap title “MC” (i.e., Master
of Ceremonies) together with the word for a common Bo-
livian corn dish.23 What is most important is what these
hip-hop borrowings express: the search for “self-dignity”
(as Callejas put it) through the projection of a new indige-
nous cosmos, one that finds moral value and indeed em-
powerment within the marginalization of disaffected urban
youth culture across the Americas (and beyond). What re-
connects these utopian and hip-hop variations on indige-
nous cosmopolitanism are three things: First, they are pro-
jections that bring the moral together with the political;
second, they are anchored in emerging understandings of
indigeneity—one based in idealized imagery from a popular
self-essentialist discourse, the other that equates indigeneity
with especially youth subalterneity—that both encompass
Bolivia and extend beyond it; and, finally, these variations
on a theme both complicate orthodox understandings of
cosmopolitanism itself and show the process of envisioning
new universes of meaning in these ways to be more radical
and potentially transformative than assumed within existing
accounts. It is to this last that I now turn.
Misreading the revolution
Ifindigenous cosmopolitanism characterizes the emergence
of different, but related, projects in Bolivia, then we must
press the analysis somewhat further to locate these projects
in relation to contemporary political developments. A cen-
tral argument of this article has been that there is a danger of
interpreting exercises of the moral imagination in narrowly
political terms. In this last section, I develop this argument
further by describing the current political climate in Bolivia
as revolutionary, although by revolution I mean something
different than what would be expected: a profound transfor-
mation of both the discursive and moral terrains in Bolivia,
despite the presence of barricades and bullets and calls by
the opposition to take power by force if necessary. In other
words, there has been a specter haunting Bolivia over the
last ten years, but it has not been the specter of Che (let
alone Marx). And in many ways, the image of that ghoulish
corpse, lying on a slab in the laundry room of Vallegrande’s
Our Lady of Malta hospital in 1967, represented the defini-
tive end to that kind of revolution in Bolivia, and a macabre
prefiguration of the moral and discursive revolution that is
now unfolding in Bolivia.
Revolutions missed and misread
In his wide-ranging critique of Andean anthropology,
Starn charged that the traditional focus within Andean
studies on the symbolic life of indigenous Andeans had
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
prevented scholars from both seeing and understanding the
complicated convergence of political, economic, and social
forces that were expressed through Peru’s Sendero Lumi-
noso and the different reactions to what was, in the end,
their failed attempt to transform Peru through armed revolu-
tion.Starn’scritique highlighted an importantphenomenon:
Anthropologists who conduct research throughout the rural
Andescannot help but havetheir worldviews shaped bywhat
can feel like an isolated universe of closed corporate ham-
lets, ayllus, and the rituals that mark the different stages of
the agricultural–spiritual lifecycle that gives structure and
meaning to the life of peasant agropastoralists throughout
the Andes. But Starn went further than this: He refracted
what was at one level an important methodological point
through the lens of the profound politicization of anthro-
pology that had transformed its epistemological landscape
in earnest by the mid-1980s.
The response to Starn’s article—and others like it (both
with Andean anthropology and beyond)—that interests me
here is not the more immediate reaction to his charges
against specific scholars. Rather, what is important for my
purposes is Starns more general argument: that anthropol-
ogists working in the Andean countries must reverse their
priorities. Instead of studying the political and economic
factors that impact Andean peoples to better understand the
complexities of Andean symbolic and discursive universes,
anthropologists should recognize that Andean communities
are embedded in political–economic networks that prefig-
ure these more classically “anthropological” categories. The
result was that many in the next generation of Andeanist
anthropologists listened to Starn and other critical anthro-
pologists and shifted away from the study of ancestor cults,
religious pilgrimages to the high places, and the structure of
ayllu kinship to focus on the politics of indigenousness, the
relationship between communities and transnational de-
velopment agencies, the participation of campesinos in the
world economy in different forms (coca production, textiles,
ecotourism), and the impact of neoliberalism on rural com-
munities, among other themes that foreground political–
There is no question that these shifts in focus within
Andean anthropology have been important in their own
terms, not the least of which is the fact that a grounding
in political–economics provides an opening for compar-
ing cultural processes in the Andes with those elsewhere,
and for highlighting the broader historical patterns that
converge through the transnational networks that enmesh
campesinos. But here is the rub: Despite these advances,
they have had the effect of shifting attention too far away
from the symbolic and discursive lifeworlds of Andean peo-
ples, including those who have, over the last 15 years, come
to reconstitute themselves through the kind of indigenous
forms of subjectivity that I have described throughout this
article. To be sure, studies of different aspects of Andean rit-
ual and symbolism have continued to make important con-
tributions, most obviously (and recently) through the work
of scholars like Frank Salomon (2004) and Gary Urton (1997,
2003), whose writings on culture and the khipu, or knotted
cord, have—among other things—reshaped the way we un-
derstand the meaning of writing and the nature of recording
more generally. Yet when we consider the rise of new forms
of indigeneity over the last 15 years in Bolivia, it is clear that
the kind of symbolic and discursive framing represented by
Salomon’s and Urton’s studies has been obscured in the rush
to locate these developments within broader political and
economic contexts. Because of this, there is a danger that
the importance of the rise of new forms of indigeneity in
Bolivia will be misread, not missed.
There is a revolution under way in Bolivia, one in which
new forms of indigeneity—which I have described as indige-
nous cosmopolitanism—are creating “spaces of expression
through which all of the traditional understandings—self-
and otherwise—of Bolivia itself are shifting. To understand
current developments in Bolivia, therefore, it is necessary
to reorder analytical priorities so that political, economic,
and legal moves are located within what I have argued is
a broader, and more radical, moral project. So although
the writings of the indigenist revolutionist Fausto Reinaga
have been resurrected by leaders of the El Alto Federation
of Neighborhood Assemblies, which played a major part in
the recent blockades of La Paz and the resignation of Pres-
ident Carlos Mesa, they focus not on Reinaga’s call to re-
sist the economic classes who oppress Bolivias “Indians.”
Rather, they turn to other passages, like this one: Indians
must “tear to shreds the infamous wall of ‘organized silence’
that ...Bolivia . . .has built around me” (Reinaga 1969). This
is a call for a revolution of the moral imagination, despite
the violent imagery. Bolivia’s indigenous peoples are being
urged to project a new universe beyond the one that Bolivia
has historically offered them. Reinaga is exhorting them to
envision new categories of belonging through which the very
idea of Bolivia itself must be reconsidered. And they are.
Conclusion: Reclaiming modernity
In their recent review of indigenous movements in Latin
America, Jean Jackson and Kay Warren survey the range of
scholarship on social and political movements between 1992
and 2004 and discuss the ways in which anthropologists have
framed these developments as problems of anthropologi-
cal theory, methodology, and activism (Jackson and Warren
2005). As they show, this body of work both “illustrate[s] the
complex imaginings and reimaginings of what is involved in
being ‘modern’ ” (2005:559) in contemporary Latin America
and explains the ways in which indigenous leaders in Latin
America navigate among politically charged and contested
discursive categories like “indigenousness,” “authenticity,”
and “modernity.” What emerges so clearly from their article
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
is the fact that indigenous movements in Latin America are
increasingly destabilizing the meanings of modernity itself.
It is one thing to challenge the order of political or legal or
cultural priority that locates modernity on one side of an in-
visible line and authenticity or tradition or indigenousness
on the other (while taking the meanings of these categories
as given); it is quite another thing to challenge the meanings
of the categories themselves. This is exactly what political
leaders and youth rappers and other indigenous cosmopoli-
tans are doing in Bolivia. By envisioning new categories of
inclusion, by constructing an alternative moral universe in
which indigenousness represents a set of principles that
are both cosmopolitan and uniquely Bolivian, indigenous
leaders and others in Bolivia do not simply “vernacularize”
modernity or strike a “bargain” with it (Foster 2002). Nor is
indigenous cosmopolitanism a way of constructing either
an “alternative modernity” or an “alternative to modernity”
(Kelly 2002). Rather, indigenous cosmopolitanism is a way of
reclaiming modernity, a way of redefining both what moder-
nity as a cultural category means and what it means to be
modern in Bolivia.
Acknowledgments. I would like to thank both the Office of
the Provost and the Center for Global Studies at George Mason
University for their generous research support during 2006. Earlier
funding for research in Bolivia was provided by the National
Science Foundation, the Organization of American States, the Latin
American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program at the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin-Madison, and the David L. Boren Fellowship
Program. Parts of this article were presented during public lectures
in December 2005 at the Department of Anthropology, Stockholm
University; the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of
Zurich; and at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in
Halle, Germany. Many thanks to the faculty and students at these
institutions for engaging critically with my ideas. Finally, I want
to acknowledge the critical and constructive engagement with an
earlier draft of this article by the editor of American Ethnologist,
Virginia Dominguez, and two anonymous reviewers.
1. At the exact moment I write this (November 2, 2005), Paris is
burning. While the Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy denounces the
youth protestors of Clichy-sous-Bois and the arrondissements of
North and Northeast Paris as “scum,” the Parisian boys of Muslim
North Africa continue to throw stones, set police cars on fire, and
prepare their Molotov cocktails. The spark this time might have
been the deaths of two teenagers, who were electrocuted trying
to evade police by hiding in a power substation, but their rage is
broader; it is the cosmopolitan rage of El Alto, Detroit, Sao Paolo’s
2. Not surprisingly, Starn’s critique became itself the subject of
critique. For some of the response to Starn, see Enrique Mayer’s ar-
ticle in Rereading Cultural Anthropology (1992), Turino 1996, and
the 1992 Allpanchis special issue La guerra en los Andes. Regardless
of the merits of this debate, Starns original article cannot be un-
derstood apart from the wider academic–political currents of the
late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when Young Turks in cultural
anthropology were riding riot and wreaking havoc in the halls of
departments and in the pages of journals. Seen in this light, Starn’s
1991 article was a quintessential post–Writing Culture (Clifford and
Marcus 1986) salvo directed against the entrenched order, no mat-
ter how illusory both the entrenchment and the order turned out
to be.
3. Figure 3 is a political poster for provincial elections in the north
of Potos´
ı Department. Notice the complex uses of the wiphala here:
It serves as a backdrop image that unifies different political parties
and candidates; it is shown at places opaquely, or miragelike, which
suggests a symbol submerged in the collective unconscious; and,
for those who are not pictured for whatever reason, the wiphala is
used to represent the candidates themselves.
4. Katarismo was an important precursor to the current indige-
nous social and political movements in Bolivia. Katarismo reflected
a series of political developments that had their origins in the 1960s,
but that came to fruition during the regime of Hugo Banzer Su´
(1971–78). Interestingly, although the movement took its name from
the late-18th-century indigenous leader Juli´
an Apasa, whose nom
de guerre was Tupaj Katari, the movement itself emerged in La Paz
among university students with origins in traditionally radicalized
areas of the Aymara countryside. As the definitive historian of this
movement, Xavier Alb´
o, says, “these students were . . . influenced
by Fausto Reinaga, the prolific and marginalized writer and self-
publisher of Indianist themes, and the founder of a more symbolic
than real Indian Party” (1987:391). See also this same 1987 article
by Alb´
o for a good overview of the political and intellectual threads
that connect what I have called the second Bolivian revolution to
the first (1952).
5. For example, in 1994 the Bolivian government announced the
National Planfor the Eradication, Prevention, and Punishment of Vi-
olence against Women. This plan, which was implemented through
more specific laws in 1995 and 1996, appeared just one year after the
1993UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women,
which was enacted to give new impetus to the international women’s
rights-as-human rights movement that had been initiated with the
1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women. For more on Bolivian legal reform during the 1990s
in relation to broader currents in international human rights law,
see Goodale 2001, 2002; see also Van Cott 2000.
6. For an excellent first-person account and analysis of the 1999–
2000 Bolivian Water War, see the recent book by Oscar Olivera, the
machinist who emerged as the leader of Cochabamba’s Coordi-
nadora de Defensa del Agua y la Vida (Coalition in Defense of Water
and Life), known as La Coordinadora (Olivera 2004).
7. Although the Movimiento Ind´
ıgena Pachakuti (MIP) is a na-
tional indigenous party in Bolivia with a platform that emphasizes
indigenous dignity and unity, antiracism, anticolonialism, and the
rights of Bolivia’s rural agropastoralists, its resistance activities dur-
ing the 2003 Bolivian Gas War I were centered on the urban areas in
and around El Alto and the roads connecting El Alto with La Paz.
8. On the problems of lynching and vigilantism in contempo-
rary Bolivia, see Daniel Goldstein’s 2004 book The Spectacular City:
Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia, which I recently re-
viewed for American Anthropologist (Goodale 2005). Between June
and August 2005, “citizen security” continued to be arguably the
most pressing public concern in Bolivia’s urban centers, even with
the ever-present threat of social mobilizations, national strikes, and
political uncertainty. Linchamientos, and various cases of “intento
de linchamiento” (attempted lynching), captured national atten-
tion, with major newspapers running front page articles on inci-
dents and journalists and intellectuals opining in the editorial pages
about the deeper meanings of these public acts of “barbarism.” In-
terestingly for my purposes here, very few commentators have ex-
plored the connections between the political and social movements
of the last five years and the rise of vigilante justice in Bolivia’s urban
and periurban districts (but see Goldstein 2004).
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
9. Evo Morales was, in fact, elected president of Bolivia on
December 18, 2005, with 54 percent of the vote, which was a
much more decisive victory than even MAS and its supporters had
anticipated. Morales’s share of the total vote—in which 84.5 per-
cent of eligible voters participated—was almost double that of Jorge
Fernando “Tuto” Quiroga Ram´
ırez (29 percent), who went down in
a crushing defeat.
10. The wider literature—both within anthropology and
beyond—on indigenousness is a large one, but two especially in-
sightful recent studies are Tania Murray Li’s use of Stuart Hall’s con-
cepts of “positioning” and “articulation” to explain “the diversity of
conditions and struggles in the Indonesian countryside” (2000:150),
and James Clifford’s 2001 article on indigenous articulations, which
is also, of course, indebted to the work of Stuart Hall.
11. By an odd coincidence, Nussbaum makes reference to Bolivia
in her article “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” which originally
appeared (followed by no less than 29 replies) in the Boston Review
(1994), later published with revised versions of 11 of the original
commentaries as For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Pa-
triotism (1996). But Bolivia’s appearance within Nussbaum’s article
appears almost completely symbolic, as an idea that represents both
geographic diversity (it is mentioned in a list of countries with In-
dia, Nigeria, and Norway) and apparent ethical distance from the
United States. As it turns out, Bolivia the nation-state (rather than
Bolivia the mistakenly conceived idea) is as much a child of the En-
lightenment as the United States and in many ways has much more
in common with the United States than a country like Norway.
12. As important as Appiah’s recent writings on cosmopolitanism
are, it is difficult to accept his underlying premise: that very many
people living in different places and times have any inclination at all
to “tak[e] pleasure from the presence of other, different, places that
are home to other, different, people” (1996:22). It is not clear what
kind of pleasure in other places and people Appiah has in mind here.
As Alan Ryan emphasized, in his review of Appiah’s 2005 book (Ryan
2005), the theoretical development of rooted cosmopolitanism is
very much informed by Appiahs own biography.
13. For a more extended recent critique of the relationship be-
tween the “global” and the “local” within anthropology and social
theory more generally, see my introduction to The Practice of Human
Rights: Tracking Law between the Global and the Local (Goodale in
press). I argue, among other things, that the global–local dichotomy
is one of the most enduring, and problematic, conceptual assump-
tions, one that expresses itself within debates overcosmopolitanism
as much as within debates over the scope and practice of human
14. Despite their otherwise quite helpful and concise overview
of current debates over cosmopolitanism, the authors focus too
heavily on Appiahs development of “rootedness,” which leads them
to describe his approach as “the very antithesis of Nussbaum’s
. . . idea of cosmopolitanism” (Stoddard and Cornwell 2003). As I
argue here, despite the obvious differences between Appiah and
Nussbaum, their approaches should be seen as variations on a
theme, in particular along the four dimensions I describe in this
15. Nussbaum makes this connection explicit in her reprinted
Boston Review article (1996:8), in which she alludes to Kant’s cate-
gorical imperative through his argument for cosmopolitanism lead-
ing to a “kingdom of ends” (i.e., a kingdom of ends would be a place
where cosmopolitans made ethical choices in light of Kant’s Third
Categorical Imperative).
16. Quispe made these comments in a preelection interview with
the leading La Paz daily La Raz´
on on October 31, 2005.
17. This is what John Murra referred to as the “vertical archipela-
gos” of the Andes (Murra 1972), although in Bolivia these ecolog-
ical and cultural islands are also spread “horizontally,” as it were,
throughout the altiplano.
18. MOP also took control of the office of subprefect by 2005 (the
period of my most recent research in Bolivia), which is a locally less
consequential position that is appointed within the departmental
prefecture in the departmental capital, also called Potos´
ı. The al-
calde, however, is directly elected.
19. Indeed, it is a constant problem for a province like Alonso de
nez and its capital Sacaca that they are much closer to both Oruro
and Cochabamba, even though these last two are both capitals of
different departments and, as such, have no financial responsibility
over what is dolefully referred to by urban Bolivians as the “extremo
norte de Potos´
20. As Isbell explains, “the clearest expression of [gender] com-
plementarity is found in the belief that one is not an adult until
one marries. Chuschinos say that a male and a female are not com-
plete until they have been united with their “essential other half”
(1978:214). For an interesting analysis of the connections between
Isbell’s and Harris’s studies of gender, see Frank Salomon’s 2001 re-
view of Harris’s 2000 book. He argues that both Isbell and Harris
focus on the way rural Andeans “consider that the world is built by a
unified biological-technological productivity unfolding seamlessly
from human–telluric bonds through matrimonial alliance outward
to very wide regional alignments and toward cosmological forces
(Salomon 2001:654). As I have documented in different places (e.g.,
Goodale 2001, 2002, n.d.), gender complementarity is in large part
idealized because men and women do not coexist equally, at least
in the norte de Potos´
ı. There are any number of expressions of this
“practical” inequality—meaning an inequality that arises for practi-
cal, rather than ideological, reasons—including patrilocal postmar-
ital residence, more extensive landholdings by men, the problem of
domestic abuse, and the fact that women do not serve within the
range of authority positions in rural Bolivia.
21. For a book-length example that uses photographic and other
visual images to examine the way other (i.e., noncosmopolitan)
imaginaries of modernity have been constituted in the Andes, see
Deborah Pooles Vision, Race, Modernity: A Visual Economy of the
Andean Image World (1997).
22. More recent examples of the anthropology of youth culture
can be found in the series of articles published in a November 2004
special focus on youth in American Ethnologist. See also Mary Bu-
choltz’s excellent review essay on the anthropology of youth and
culture (2002).
23. Other Wayna Tambo rap groups (as of July 2005) go by the fol-
lowing names: Raza Insana, Movimiento L´
ırico Urbano, and Abra-
ham Boj´
orquez’s own two-man group, Ukamau y K´
e. Compact
discs, reading materials, and information about El Altos rap mu-
sic movement can be accessed through the Wayna Tambo website:
References cited
o, Xavier
1987 From MNRistas to Kataristas to Katari. In Resistance, Rebel-
lion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World. Steve J.
Stern, ed. Pp. 379–419. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Antezana, Luis
1999 Trampas y mentiras de la Ley INRA. La Paz,Bolivia: Editorial
Juridica “Temis.”
Appiah, Kwame Anthony
1996 Cosmopolitan Patriots. In For Love of Country. Joshua Co-
hen, ed. Pp. 21–31. Boston: Beacon Press.
2005 The Ethics of Identity. Princeton: Princeton University
American Ethnologist Volume 33 Number 4 November 2006
Bhabha, Homi
2001 Unsatisfied: Notes on Vernacular Cosmopolitanism. In
Postcolonial Discourses: An Anthology. Gregory Castle, ed. Pp.
38–53. Oxford: Blackwell.
Biolsi, Thomas
2005 Imagined Geographies: Sovereignty, Indigenous Space, and
American IndianStruggle.AmericanEthnologist32(2):239–259.
Breckenridge, Carol, Sheldon Pollack, Homi Bhabha, and Dipesh
Chakrabarty, eds.
2002 Cosmopolitanism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Bucholtz, Mary
2002 Youth and Cultural Practice. Annual Review of Anthropol-
ogy 31:525–552.
Cheah, Pheng
1998 The Cosmopolitical—Today. In Cosmopolitics: Thinking
and Feeling beyond the Nation. Pheng Cheah and Bruce
Robbins, eds. Pp. 20–41. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Clifford, James
2001 Indigenous Articulations. The Contemporary Pacific
Clifford, James, and George E. Marcus, eds.
1986 Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
de la Cadena, Marisol
2000 Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in
Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Deloria, Philip
2004 Indians in Unexpected Places. Lawrence: University Press
of Kansas.
Dyson, Michael Eric
1997 Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black
Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.
Erlmann, Veit
1999 Music, Modernity,and the Global Imagination: South Africa
and the West. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ferguson, James
1999 Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Ur-
ban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley: University of
California Press.
Flores, Juan
2000 From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino
Identity. New York: Columbia University Press.
Foster, Robert J.
2002 Bargains with Modernity in Papua New Guinea and Else-
where. In Critically Modern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthro-
pologies. Bruce Knauft, ed. Pp. 57–82. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press.
Goldstein, Daniel
2004 The Spectacular City: Violence and Performance in Urban
Bolivia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Goodale, Mark
2001 A Complex Legal Universe in Motion: Rights, Obligations,
and Rural-Legal Intellectuality in the Bolivian Andes. Ph.D. dis-
sertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
2002 Legal Ethnography in an Era of Globalization: The Arrival
of Western Human Rights Discourse to Rural Bolivia. In Prac-
ticing Ethnography in Law: New Dialogues, Enduring Meth-
ods. June Starr and Mark Goodale, eds. Pp. 50–71. New York:
2005 Review of The Spectacular City: Violence and Performance
in Urban Bolivia. American Anthropologist 107(4):728–29.
In press Introduction: Locating Rights, Envisioning Law between
the Global and the Local. In The Practice of Human Rights:
Tracking Law between the Global and the Local. Mark Goodale
and Sally Engle Merry, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University
N.d. Dilemmas of Modernity: Bolivian Encounters with Law and
Liberalism. Unpublished MS, George Mason University.
Hall, Stuart, and Tony Jefferson, eds.
1976 Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War
Britain. London: Hutchinson.
Harris, Olivia
2000 To Make the Earth Bear Fruit: Ethnographic Essays on Fer-
tility, Work and Gender in Highland Bolivia. London: Institute
of Latin American Studies.
Hebdige, Dick
1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen.
Isbell, Billie Jean
1976 La otra mitad esencial: Un estudio de complementaridad
sexual en los Andes. Estudios Andinos 5(1):37–56.
1978 To Defend Ourselves: Ecology and Ritual in an Andean Vil-
lage. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Jackson, Jean E., and Kay B. Warren
2005 Indigenous Movements in Latin America, 1992–2004: Con-
troversies, Ironies, New Directions. Annual Review of Anthro-
pology 34:549–573.
Kelly, John D.
2002 Alternative Modernities or an Alternative to “Modernity”:
Getting Out of the Modernist Sublime. In Critically Mod-
ern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthropologies. Bruce Knauft, ed.
Pp. 258–286. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Lewis, Herbert
1999 The Misrepresentation of Anthropology and its Conse-
quences. American Anthropologist 100(3):716–731.
Li, Tania Murray
2000 Articulating Indigenous Identity in Indonesia: Resource
Politics and the Tribal Slot. Comparative Studies in Society and
History 42(1):149–179.
Mayer, Enrique
1992 Peru in Deep Trouble: Mario Vargas Llosa’s “Inquest in
the Andes” Reexamined. In Rereading Cultural Anthropology.
George E. Marcus, ed. Pp. 181–219. Durham, NC: Duke Univer-
sity Press.
Murra, John
1972 El “control vertical” de un m´
aximo de pisos ecol´
ogicos en
la econom´
ıa de las sociedades andinas. In Visita de la provincia
de Le´
on de Hu´
anuco (1562) por I˜
nigo Ortiz de Z´
niga. Vol. 1.
Pp. 426–468. Hu´
anuco, Peru: Universidad Hermilio Valdiz´
Nussbaum, Martha
1996 Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism. In For Love of Country.
Joshua Cohen, ed. Pp. 2–21. Boston: Beacon Press.
Olivera, Oscar
2004 ¡Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia. Boston: South End
Ortner, Sherry
1973 On Key Symbols. American Anthropologist 75(5):1338–
Poole, Deborah
1997 Vision, Race, Modernity: A Visual Economy of the Andean
Image World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Quispe, Felipe
2005 Interview with Felipe Quispe. La Raz´
on, October 31.
Reinaga, Fausto
1969 La revoluci ´
on india. La Paz, Bolivia: Ediciones PIB.
Robbins, Bruce
1998 Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism. In Cosmopolitics:
Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation. Pheng Cheah and
Reclaiming modernity American Ethnologist
Bruce Robbins, eds. Pp. 1–19. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
Ryan, Alan
2005 The Magic of “I.” The New York Review of Books 52(7):35–
Salomon, Frank
2001 Review of To Make the Earth Bear Fruit: Ethnographic
Essays on Fertility, Work and Gender in Highland Bolivia.
Journal of Latin American Studies 33(3):654–656.
2004 The Cord Keepers: Khipus and Cultural Life in a Peruvian
Village. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
on, Pablo
1997 ¿Horizontes sin tierra? Analisis critico de la Ley Inra. La
Paz, Bolivia: Cedoin.
Starn, Orin
1991 Missing the Revolution: Anthropologists and the War in
Peru. Cultural Anthropology 6(1):63–91.
1994 Rethinking the Politics of Anthropology: The Case of the
Andes. Current Anthropology 35(1):13–38.
1999 Nightwatch: The Politics of Protest in the Andes. Durham,
NC: Duke University Press.
Stoddard, Eve Walsh, and Grant H. Cornwell
2003 Peripheral Visions: Towards a Geoethics of Citizen-
ship. Liberal Education (Summer). Electronic document,
perspective.cfm, accessed December 6, 2005.
Turino, Thomas
1996 From Essentialism to the Essential: Pragmatics and Mean-
ing of Pune˜
no Sikuri Performance in Lima. In Cosmolog´
ıa y
usica en los Andes. Max Baumann, ed. Pp. 469–482. Vervuert,
Spain: Bibliotheca Ibero-Americana.
Urton, Gary
1997 The Social Life of Numbers: A Quechua Ontology of
Numbers and Philosophy of Arithmetic. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
2003 Signs of the Inka Khipu: Binary Coding in the An-
dean Knotted-String Records. Austin: University of Texas
Van Cott, Donna Lee
2000 The Friendly Liquidation of the Past: The Politics of
Diversity in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh
accepted March 13, 2006
final version submitted April 10, 2006
Mark Goodale
Assistant Professor of Conflict Studies and Anthropology
George Mason University
3330 N. Washington Blvd., 5th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
... The two-year period from the ousting of Sánchez de Lozada to the election of Evo Morales as the country's first self-identifying Indigenous President in December 2005 was one of ideological renewal, political organization, and cultural revalorization, especially for Bolivia's highland Aymara and Quechua peoples. Much of this Indigenous cultural renaissance was centred on the 'rebel city' (Lazar 2008) of El Alto, which became positively Florentine in the way art, architecture (in an altiplano vernacular), radical political and social philosophy, and even Aymara hip-hop (Goodale 2006) flourished during a period of liminal possibility. ...
... Instead, Reinaga was rediscovered during this period as a prophet for something quite different. What his writings describe is nothing less than an alternative understanding of time, one in which the structure of the actual universe -that is, the universe as apprehended and venerated by Bolivia's 'Indian' peoples -turns in its course through regular periods of rupture, upheaval, and eventual renewal, a never-ending ontological rotation that is mirrored in human social and economic organization (Goodale 2018). ...
Full-text available
This article uses reflections on chronopolitical praxis during the period 2006‐19 in Bolivia in order to make a more general contribution to the anthropology of time and temporalities. The article proposes the theoretical concept of ‘timerendering’ in order to examine the ways in which time emerged as a pervasive register that mediated and also deepened political, social, and ethnic conflict in Bolivia. After illustrating the mechanisms through which timerendering in Bolivia gave way to forms of allochronic denial that are described as ‘hypertemporal exclusion’, the article explains how and why the MAS government's timerendering strategies unravelled, which left it susceptible to the right‐wing coup of October/November 2019. The article concludes by narrating the endtimes of the Morales government in Bolivia, before considering what this moment and its afterlives have to say more generally about the anthropology of time as a disciplinary orientation.
... It evaluates the continually dialectical transformations of colonised by colonising, oppressed by oppressors, exploited by exploiting and vice versa. It is not that indigeneity came to be marked by cosmopolitan and non-cosmopolitan poles during neoliberalism, as Mark Goodale (2006) has suggested, or that hybridity is an exceptional feature of urban indigeneity, as Tassi and others have argued, but that hybridity is an underlying feature of modernity more broadly across Latin America, in El Alto and beyond. Instead of conceptualising urban indigenous practices and relations as defiance or alternatives, they should be seen as part of the baroque form that modernity has assumed in Latin America. ...
Full-text available
This article uses the Bolivian city of El Alto as a lens through which to evaluate the place of urban indigeneity and the popular economy within Latin American modernity. Whilst some express worries over the erosion of indigenous ways of life and others see urban indigenous practices as defying capitalist modernity, I argue that these emergent forms of indigeneity need to be understood as part of the complex, particular historical articulation of modernity in Latin America. Here, colonialism and uneven capitalist development have imbued modernity with a baroque character, containing multiple temporalities and contradictory societal forms, including that of urban indigeneity.
... Trabajos recientes, enfocados en comunidades indígenas y el impacto que han tenido en ellas la globalización y glocalización, proponen términos como modernidades indígenas o cosmopolitanismo indígena para explicar procesos actuales de interconexión global (Forte 2010, Goodale 2006, Pitarch y Orobigt 2012. Como he mencionado en otros trabajos (Martínez-Rivera 2014;, estos conceptos, aunque intentan resaltar la agencia y plasticidad de las culturas indígenas, parten de un modelo donde los grupos indígenas viven en el pasado, alejados de la modernidad y que apenas ahora están conectados. ...
Full-text available
Actualmente, la boda p’urhépecha es un elaborado ritual que dura tres días; sus principales prácticas rituales se remontan a la época precolombina, según las descripciones que encontramos en la Relación de Michoacán. En este artículo expondremos algunos elementos de continuidad en las bodas de la cultura p’urhépecha con base en la propia Relación y sobre todo en la investigación de campo y etnohistórica realizada en la comunidad de Santo Santiago de Angahuan, en Michoacán, México. El análisis de las transformaciones de la boda a través de los años nos permite observar una continuidad de las prácticas y a la vez elucidar algunos de los principales elementos culturales que refuerzan la cosmovisión p’urhépecha.
In Bolivia, neo-liberalism did not only have social-economic and political effects, but it also created spaces that allowed for new discourses related to culture and national identity. This research focuses on the changes of the metal underground scene in La Paz that led to the formation of a hardcore punk scene that tried to incorporate Indigenous symbolism in their music and performances as a form of resistance against western-cultural hegemony but also to highlight the positive values of their ancestral cultural heritage. Scholars, journalists and activists have written extensively about the transformations in Bolivia during the age of neo-liberalism but there has not been much research that focused on youth movements specifically those that use music to inspire new forms of social dialogues concerning national identity. This research is self-ethnographic and it includes qualitative in-depth interviews of band members and media figures of that time. The La Paz hardcore punk scene grew as an effort from band members to Indigenize the metal underground scene based on their interpretation of what they believed was Indigenous since none of the band members themselves were considered Indigenous. The meaning of Indigenous symbolism in their music was a result of their daily experiences of the social-political contentious environment during the country’s neo-liberal era. Street protesters used Indigenous symbols to defy the western-led free-market economic policies of the Washington Consensus. Therefore, the need to distinguish themselves from a metal musical genre that was traditionally western gave rise to a hardcore punk scene that focused on Indigenous cultural pride intricately connected to a form of patriotism and national pride. This was fuelled by the emergence of a national collective consciousness to reclaim the Indigenous culture due to the failures of western economic policies and US interventions tied to the ‘War on Drugs’.
Chronotopes have been described as “envelopes” of time and space that provide the setting for the circulation of particular types of characters or personae (Silverstein 2005, Agha 2007, Bakhtin 1981, 1986). In this article, I investigate how these narratives of time and space are used to produce meaning in conjunction with structured relationships between groups of social categories, particularly discourses of tradition and modernity. Specifically, I examine the ways in which local actors shape and imagine how Saipina, a small town in central Bolivia, is represented to outside audiences. Influential actors produce a set of artifacts that represent the town, as well as a series of narratives that overlay values such as hard work and agricultural roots with goods such as sugarcane and chancaca, a raw sugar product, in representing the town to outside audiences.
Full-text available
Resumo Neste artigo é estudada a concepção do escritor peruano José María Arguedas como herói cultural peruano. Após descrever as características de herói cultural, foco a análise na produção musical do grupo de fusão rock e huayno Uchpa. Os músicos deste grupo consideram-se herdeiros de Arguedas. Citam seu testamento artístico-político, enunciado de maneira sintética no discurso "Não sou um aculturado" (1969), para legitimar sua prática artística e continuar a missão interrompida pela morte do autor de Los ríos profundos. Arguedas sustentava a existência de um indivíduo quéchua moderno que não precisava renunciar a sua cultura para ser cosmopolita.
This article explores issues of identity, hybridity, and media in an Aotearoa/New Zealand context by analyzing Pacific audiences’ affinity for and use of indigenous Māori media. It makes the case for broadening ethnic categorizations in media practice and scholarship to better account for multi-ethnic audiences’ identities and practices. And, by exploring Pacific audiences’ talk about a shared “Brown” identity, it suggests that Pacific peoples, particularly New Zealand-born youth, resort to a racialized “Brown” identity as a way to connect to multiple others in the New Zealand context—using Māori media as a “third space” of identity negotiation to do so. Finally, it argues for more overtly situated and localized research and theory-building to further tease out the uniquely South Pacific elements of these emergent identity practices.
In this article, I propose a methodological specification of the concept of cultural translation as a heuristic tool, with which to gain a better understanding of what is at stake when law “travels” across legal cultures, from one society to another. Applied to the transposition of indigenous rights to different Indonesian contexts and locales, the proposed methodological specification reveals a paradoxical shift that occurs in the course of this transposition, not so much in terms of the legal content of indigenous rights, but with regard to their institutional framework and intended target communities.
Full-text available
In this chapter I explore the effects of globalization on legal ethnographic fieldwork through an examination of the impact of the arrival of Western human rights discourse to rural Bolivia during the last ten years. Beginning in the late-1980s and continuing through the 1990s, several events in Bolivia coincided that would form the foundation for this development. First, there was a national debate in Bolivia during the mid-to late 1980s over the upcoming 500 years observations in 1992. This debate was accompanied by the formation of new indigenous rights groups and the strengthening of existing organizations with progressive or radical tendencies, particularly the influential labor unions. The impact of the new movement—framed now in terms of indigenous rights and largely united, something that is unusual for Bolivian social movements—was most dramatically represented by the turbulent 1990 march by indigenous rights groups from Trinidad to La Paz, an event that captivated the nation and forced a national dialogue about the marchers’ demands, which were broad in scope but centered around claims that traditional authority structures should be given legal effect at the national level, and that rural lands should be protected from the encroachment by large landowners and corporations, especially in the Bolivian Amazon.
How do Western images of Africa and African representations of the West mirror one another? This book examines the complex issues involved in the making of modern identities in Africa, Europe, and the US via a study of two striking episodes in the history of black South African music. The first is a pair of tours of two black South African choirs in England and America in the early 1890s; the second is a series of engagements with the international music industry as experienced by the premier choral group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, after the release of Paul Simon's celebrated Graceland album in 1986.