Cholo Politics and Urban Indigenous Self-Fashioning in Bolivia


  • Robert Albro American University



cholo politics, collective versus individual, cultural critique, neoliberalism, self-fashioning, the liberal subject, urban indigeneity


This article reviews recent ethnographic approaches to indigeneity in Bolivia from the global north. It examines some consequences of ethnographic choices to treat indigeneity as primarily a political challenge of power and inclusion, where indigenous identity is understood to be most characteristically expressed in collective terms or through social mobilization. At the same time, it also assesses a complementary ethnographic focus upon legacies of neoliberalism, as a major context for situating contemporary indigenous projects in Bolivia, specifically, ethnographic contrasts drawn between political indigeneity and the liberal subject. Finally, this article offers an account of indigenous sense-making for the urban landscape of Quillacollo and explores the relevance of indigenous claims as integral to that small city’s “cholo politics,” and as an alternative means of understanding the construction of indigenous subjects.