Raul Rodriguez Arancibia

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rutgers U.

Grant number

Gr. 9926

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Rodriguez Arancibia, Raul (Rutgers U.) ""Made in China": The Emergence of Contemporary Andean Indigenous Entrepreneurs in the El Alto, Bolivia."

In recent decades, merchants from El Alto, Bolivia, the largest indigenous city of Latin America, have inserted themselves in the retail supply chain of commodities “Made in China.” The experience of traveling back and forth to overseas markets has fostered new forms of cosmopolitanism among select segments of the urban indigenous population, some of whom have benefited from the past three decades of market liberalization and commercial opportunity. Their participation in both local and global markets has provided access to wealth and status, transforming them into a new indigenous elite in a country where the indigenous majority population has remained socially marginalized and economically disadvantaged for centuries. My research focuses on this ascendant class of indigenous entrepreneurs, situating them within the context of the sweeping neoliberal economic reforms in Bolivia since 1985. Drawing on ethnographic methods and anthropological theories, the project seeks to investigate and write a social history and ethnography focused on the process of becoming of this new indigenous elite. In particular, this research focuses on the decisions, choices, and challenges that apprentice merchants in the city of El Alto have to endure in order to craft themselves as successful entrepreneurs.