Intimate Indigeneities

Race, Sex, and History in the Small Spaces of Andean Life

Intimate Indigeneities

Narrating Native Histories

More about this series

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 52 illustrations, 2 figures Published: November 2012

Author: Andrew Canessa

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies

Drawing on extended ethnographic research conducted over the course of more than two decades, Andrew Canessa explores the multiple identities of a community of people in the Bolivian highlands through their own lived experiences and voices. He examines how gender, race, and ethnic identities manifest themselves in everyday interactions in the Aymara village. Canessa shows that indigeneity is highly contingent; thoroughly imbricated with gendered, racial, and linguistic identities; and informed by a historical consciousness. Addressing how whiteness and indianness are reproduced as hegemonic structures in the village, how masculinities develop as men go to the mines and army, and how memories of a violent past are used to construct a present sense of community, Canessa raises important questions about indigenous politics and the very nature of indigenous identity.


[Canessa] “This book is a masterful synthesis of 20 years’ ethnographic fieldwork in one Bolivian community, the Aymara-speaking Andean settlement of Wila Kjarka….this book is a delight to read, both in terms of the author’s clear and engaging style, which frequently blends humour and pathos, and in the non-judgemental approach which testifies to an eagerness to understand others on their own terms. … [it] is a profoundly honest, subtle and wide- ranging study that is sure to inspire scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds.” — Charles M. Pigott, AlterNative

“Overall, Canessa is an astute observer of Bolivian rural life, and he possesses an engaging sense of humor: the book often makes one think and laugh at the same time.” — Robert I. Smale, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Canessa’s excellent book…. Provides a wide-ranging yet rooted ethnographic analysis of contemporary forms of belonging in Bolivia, which is the book’s great strength….This book would be a wonderful addition to many courses… It is readable, compelling, and moving.” — Kate McGurn Centellas, Journal of Anthropological Research

“[P]oignant and deeply insightful…. Intimate Indigeneities is at the top of my reading list for my graduate and undergraduate classes, not only for courses on matters Andean or Latin American, but also for lower level introductory courses to anthropology and upper level theory courses.” — Linda J. Seligman, Anthropological Quarterly

“Andrew Canessa has written a longed-for book that consolidates his position as one of the most engaging contemporary scholars of Andean  anthropology. . . . Intimate Indigeneities is a major contribution to our understanding of indigeneity, race and sex in contemporary Bolivia and, I would argue, the most important and engaging anthropological work on Andean Bolivia written in recent years.” — Anders Burman, Journal of Latin American Studies

“Valuable for any study of modernity, indigeneity, or interpersonal relations as it provides a poignant look at a community in the midst of a convoluted, contradictory, continuous march to modernity." — Naomi Glassman, NACLA Report on the Americas

“The writing style is lively and informative…. Geographers interested in the value of ethno-graphic research as a vehicle for understanding twenty-first century Bolivia will find much of value in these pages.” — Joseph L. Scarpaci, Journal of Latin American Geography

“Recommended.” — D.L. Browman, Choice

“This wonderful book is highly recommended for all those who are interested in indigeneity, racism, gender, and nation-building.” — Emma Cervone, American Anthropologist

“The narrative and debating style of the book opens up much for the reader to think about. In his endeavour to be all-embracing and all-inclusive, Canessa says it all, and convincingly, too. He gives many perspectives, lets many voices speak, tells many case histories, all in great detail…. In any case, it is a wonderful book for anyone interested in Bolivia, Andean culture, Aymara people, ethnicity, fieldwork experiences or anthropology in general. Just read it and let yourself be amazed.” — Annelou Ypeij, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“Andrew Canessa’s Intimate indigeneities – the culmination of over 20 years work in the Aymara-speaking community of Wila Kjarka in highland Bolivia – asks a disarmingly simple question: what does it mean to be indigenous?...Canessa is certainly not the first anthropologist to address this tension, but the novelty and importance of his contribution lies in where he seeks to locate an answer.”

— Magnus Course, Anthropology Today

“Andrew Canessa’s beautiful new book builds on two decades of ethnographic research in the rural highlands of Bolivia focusing on gender, history, and racial difference in the Andes…. Canessa’s rich case study provides a compelling argument about both the ongoing meanings and the limitations of the notion of indigeneity as a theoretical concept and category of rights.” — Nancy Postero & Amy Kennemor, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"In this finely detailed ethnography, anthropologist Andrew Canessa explores the meaning of indigeneity for the people of Wila Kjarka, an Aymara-speaking community located in the northern Andean highlands of Bolivia….[T]he rich, and at times poignant, ethnographic detail and the complex and nuanced argumentation speak to the anthropologist’s longstanding commitment to this community and to these important issues." — Krista E. Van Vleet, Anthro Forum

"Andrew Canessa makes superb use of more than twenty years of ethnographic experience with Andean villagers of Wila Kjarka to give us a beautifully detailed and intellectually stimulating account of the changing meanings of 'indian' and 'indigeneity' in Bolivia. His focus on the intimate and the public spaces of everyday life, and on the local and the translocal flows of people, ideas, and things, provides a wonderfully engaging picture of how villagers in the Andes think of themselves and others. His deep commitment to the people of the village gives us a refreshing and important perspective on the concept of 'indigeneity,' which is too often taken for granted in the context of contemporary identity politics. Intimate Indigeneities will prove very attractive to students and scholars alike." — Peter Wade, author of Race and Sex in Latin America

"Focused on topics of great interest to contemporary readers—race, inequality, gender, sexuality, social and political change, education, military service, and domestic violence—and written with verve and style, Intimate Indigeneities draws on long-term, detailed ethnographic work that is impressive and rarely achieved. Andrew Canessa presents unique, novel knowledge about a place, a time, and a people." — Mary Weismantel, author of Cholas and Pishtacos: Stories of Race and Sex in the Andes

"Using telling case histories, Andrew Canessa explores how indigeneity appears in the local and national arena, what it means to be indigenous in contemporary Bolivia, and why the villagers he has studied for more than twenty years reject this term. This is a major contribution, a splendid example of a twenty-first-century ethnography." — Jean E. Jackson, coeditor of Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation, and the State in Latin America

"This beautifully written book is a very important contribution to scholarship on race and sex in Latin America.... This work also represents an excellent resource for those interested in Andean and American indigenous experiences. Now that it's available in a reasonably priced paperback edition, this will be a welcome addition to graduate and undergraduate courses in Latin American and NativeAmerican Studies."  — Waskar T. Ari-Chachakí Against the Current


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Andrew Canessa is Director of the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Essex.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1. A Wila Kjarka Kaleidoscope 34

2. Intimate Histories 63

3. The Jankho Kjarka War 90

4. From Fetuses to Mountain Ancestors 119

5. Fantasies of Fear 166

6. Progress Is a Metal Flagpole 184

7. Intimate Citizens 216

8. Sex and the Citizen 244

Postscript. We Will Be People No More 281

Notes 293

References 303

Index 321
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5267-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5244-0
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