From "Yemboaty" to Autonomy: Xavier Albo's Work with the Guarani of the Bolivian Chaco


  • Nancy Postero University of California San Diego



autonomy, engaged anthropology, governance, Guarani, indigenous peoples, power, self-determination, shamans


This article analyzes Xavier Albó’s work with the Guarani people of the Bolivian Chaco, focusing on iconic texts during three important moments in Guarani history. I argue that, by documenting the structures of political economy and history under which the Guarani have lived, as well as their cultural resources, Albó’s work contributes to current debates in anthropology about the constructed, fluid, and dynamic nature of cultural identity and its relation to power and domination. His engaged academic work established the basis for understanding that contributed to concrete proposals for political change, which I call “world-making,” based in culturally significant notions of autonomy and self-determination. Albó’s work serves today as a valuable model of engaged academic research.


Author Biography

Nancy Postero, University of California San Diego

Professor, Department of Anthropology