The Folkloric-Festive continuum of an Emerging Elite in La Paz
Keywords:Alcohol, Bolivia, ethnography, Gran Poder, ritual drunkenness
This article presents the results of the ethnographic research conducted in the period 2015-2017 with the Fraternidad Verdaderos Intocables for the purpose of analyzing reciprocal exchanges through drinking and their impact on the collective sense of community in an urban context. It is proposed that social interactions mediated by alcohol at the space-time of the fiesta signal/impulse chains of reciprocity in present/future overlapping space-time interactions resulting in a folkloric-festive continuum that reinforces the bonds of participants as compadres. This article intends to contribute to the emerging scholarly interest in calendric folkloric festivities in Bolivia by linking that research with the study of alternatives ways to conceive citizenship through public ritual interactions. Contrary to a common assumption that ostentation and big quantities of drunkenness in folkloric events related to a new folklorist elite are “irrational,” ethnographic research found that the dynamics of alcohol distribution/consumption is very carefully structured ritually and has direct implications in social reproduction and collective identity among the participants.
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