Research on urban change, identity and mobility in La Paz, Bolivia

In the last ten years, La Paz has transformed. Incredible economic growth and a government keen to overturn centuries of colonialism, inequality and exclusion, have led to the emergence of an ‘Aymara Bourgeoisie’- people of indigenous or mestizo descent who have made their money in the vast informal markets of El Alto and La Paz.  There is an important debate about terminology – some claim that the terms ‘chola bourgeoisie’, ‘proto-bourgeoisie’, or ‘wealthy popular class’ would be more appropriate, depending on the salience given to tradition, ethnic and class identity, or rurality/urbanity (see Rea Campos 2016 for overview).  There is no doubt however that the Aymara Bourgeoisie have transformed La Paz, creating architecture, fashion and patterns of mobility that challenge not only the status quo in the city, but some of the central tenets of critical urban theory.

This project is sponsored by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, RF-2015-331. The research assistants on this project are Natalia Casanovas and Alison Parrado. Thanks also due to Rafael Loayza, Sergio Marín, Winston Moore, Guadalupe Peres, Alan Shave, Lidya Shave, and Juan Carlos Valdivia.


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