canessa, andrew (2007) Who is indigenous? Self-identification, Indigeneity, and Claims to Justice in Contemporary Bolivia. Urban Anthropology, 36 (3). pp. 195-237. ISSN 0894-6019
Recent events in Bolivia have brought indigeneity to the center of the national stage. More and more people are identifying themselves as indigenous whereas in the recent past they would more likely have seen themselves simply as campesinos, peasants, or urban mestizos. International agencies such as the ILO, UN and World Bank stress the importance of self-identification for indigenous people; and in the last (2001) census just over 20% of the Bolivian population identified themselves as indigenous despite no recorded ethnolinguistic marker that would suggest they would be; others who do not self-identify as indigenous were recorded in the census as being indigenous. This paper explores some of the issues behind self-identification and in particular examines the case of an Aymara-speaking community where people were recorded as indigenous and “ethnolinguistic markers” abound, yet do not self-identify as such. Despite its apparent homogeneity in terms of a strong sense of shared culture and kinship relations, the people of Pocobaya vary considerably in how they identify themselves as ethnic/racial subjects. Whereas outside groups, agencies, and indigenous leaders are creating and recognizing an indigenous identity based on a particular view of history and conquest, many other people have a much more complex sense of who they are.
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