Natives Making Nation
Gender, Indigeneity, and the State in the Andes
Publication Year: 2011
In Bolivia today, the ability to speak an indigenous language is highly valued among educated urbanites as a useful job skill, but a rural person who speaks a native language is branded with lower social status. Likewise, chewing coca in the countryside spells “inferior indian,” but in La Paz jazz bars it’s decidedly cool. In the Andes and elsewhere, the commodification of indianness has impacted urban lifestyles as people co-opt indigenous cultures for qualities that emphasize the uniqueness of their national culture. This volume looks at how metropolitan ideas of nation employed by politicians, the media and education are produced, reproduced, and contested by people of the rural Andes—people who have long been regarded as ethnically and racially distinct from more culturally European urban citizens. Yet these peripheral “natives” are shown to be actively engaged with the idea of the nation in their own communities, forcing us to re-think the ways in which indigeneity is defined by its marginality. The contributors examine the ways in which numerous identities—racial, generational, ethnic, regional, national, gender, and sexual—are both mutually informing and contradictory among subaltern Andean people who are more likely now to claim an allegiance to a nation than ever before. Although indians are less often confronted with crude assimilationist policies, they continue to face racism and discrimination as they struggle to assert an identity that is more than a mere refraction of the dominant culture. Yet despite the language of multiculturalism employed even in constitutional reform, any assertion of indian identity is likely to be resisted. By exploring topics as varied as nation-building in the 1930s or the chuqila dance, these authors expose a paradox in the relation between indians and the nation: that the nation can be claimed as a source of power and distinct identity while simultaneously making some types of national imaginings unattainable. Whether dancing together or simply talking to one another, the people described in these essays are shown creating identity through processes that are inherently social and interactive. To sing, to eat, to weave . . . In the performance of these simple acts, bodies move in particular spaces and contexts and do so within certain understandings of gender, race and nation. Through its presentation of this rich variety of ethnographic and historical contexts, Natives Making Nation provides a finely nuanced view of contemporary Andean life.
Published by: University of Arizona Press
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1. Introduction: Making the Nation on the Margins
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In his oft-cited work on nationalism, Benedict Anderson writes that “in the modern world everyone can, should, will, ‘have’ a nationality, as he or she ‘has’ a gender” (1983:5). Possessing a national identity can be seen as being as natural as having a gender. Except that, of course, there is nothing “natural” about...
2. Capturing Indian Bodies, Hearths, and Minds: The Gendered Politics of Rural School Reform in Bolivia, 1920s–1940s
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For a good while now, feminist scholars have illuminated the complicated gendered processes that accompanied modern state-building and development policies in twentieth-century Latin America. Just as modernizing a European nation’s devised social...
3. Making Music Safe for the Nation: Folklore Pioneers in Bolivian Indigenism
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In the 1990s, the past became a profitable refuge of Latin American music projects. Buena Vista Social Club brought Cuban octogenarians to international stages, and Carlos Vives’s album Clásicos de la Provincia connected music of “grandfathers” with...
4. The Choreography of Territory, Agency, and Cultural Survival: The Vicuña Hunting Ritual “Chuqila”
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Recent studies on the nation have called attention to the importance of the performative as a way of understanding how national narratives generate meaning and self-legitimation. Drawing from Judith Butler’s work on the performance of gender...
5. Dancing on the Borderlands: Girls (Re)Fashioning National Belonging in the Andes
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Notions of modern citizens and national identities are typically built on unmarked categories of masculinity, “whiteness,” urban residence, and adulthood, yet those others—women, nonwhites, children—are also citizens, both in the formal sense of having...
6. The Indian Within, the Indian Without: Citizenship, Race, and Sex in a Bolivian Hamlet
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On a recent trip to the village of Pocobaya1 in the highlands of Bolivia I found myself sitting in a friend’s kitchen whilst she prepared one of my favorite dishes. As she busied herself preparing the guinea pig and I peeled vegetables, we chatted about...
7. From Political Prison to Tourist Village: Tourism, Gender, Indigeneity, and the State on Taquile Island, Peru
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In 1922, eight years before seizing presidential power in a coup, “The Macho” Luís Miguel Sánchez Cerro was exiled to Lake Titicaca’s remote and frigid Taquile Island, 3,800 meters above sea level, following an unsuccessful armed revolt against the...
Afterword: Andean Identities: Multiplicities, Socialities, Materialities
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This summer in Lima, two different Peruvians gave me some insight into what Andean identity looks like from the perspective of that coastal city. The first was a taxi driver who described himself angrily as “the last Limeño”: a lonely survivor in a city...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011