Cholo Citizens: Negotiating Personhood and Building Communities in El Alto, Bolivia

Lazar, Sian. 2002. Cholo Citizens: Negotiating Personhood and Building Communities in El Alto, Bolivia. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis addresses the dialectic between collective and individual senses ofself and political agency, and the implications of that dialectic for how residents of Rosas Pampa, in the city of EI Alto, Bolivia, experience their citizenship. It examines the ways in which citizenship is performed, practiced, and constructed by rural-urban migrants living in a peripheral urban area in Bolivia, and interrogates this central concept in political theory using anthropological theories and methods. It is based upon a year's fieldwork in Rosas Pampa, a poor neighbourhood whose adult residents are predominantly first or second generation Aymara-speaking migrants of rural origin.

In contrast to the abstract way citizenship is generally understood in the national and international context, and purveyed as a key policy by a multitude of NGOs and governmental agencies operating in poor urban areas of Bolivia, the people of Rosas Pampa experience citizenship in intensely physical and embodied ways, and within several different political spheres, at personal, local and national levels. This thesis explores the nature of political action, and highlights the values that thereby emerge to shape political agency. It argues that there is a dynamic interaction between academic and policy-based notions of citizenship and selfhood and those rooted in people's urban experiences and rural backgrounds.

The first part of the thesis outlines the citizenship practices of the residents of Rosas Pampa, and explores how they constitute themselves in various ways as collective political subjects, covering community politics, voting, the annual fiesta and religiosity. The second part focuses on citizenship as a negotiation of personhoood, through exploring how relational senses of self operate in Rosas Pampa and then outlining governmental citizenship projects that seek to modify those senses of self. Throughout it emphasises the citizens' own responses to those projects.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Rosas Pampa, EI Alto, Bolivia, citizenship, self, political agency

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Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 11:24

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:28


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