Psss, wanna read a dissertation on tourism at Tiwanaku?

I have finished my dissertation, entitled, “Touristic Narratives and Historical Networks: Politics and Authority in Tiwanaku, Bolivia” (Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Ph.D. 2009).  It will soon be available on ProQuest, but if you want the 3.5 MB PDF with COLOR PHOTOS (oooo!  ahhh!) send me an email or leave a comment here with your email address.


An Invitation to Visit the Fundación Flavio Machicado Viscarra

Don Flavio listening to music.

Don Flavio listening to music.

As many of the GT members and readers will be in Bolivia for “summer” research or just travel, I wanted to invite you all to check out the activities and resources provided by the Fundación Flavio Machicado Viscarra (FFMV).

The FFMV is a small foundation that aims to conserve and make public the intellectual and cultural patrimony of Don Flavio Machicado Viscarra (1898-1986). Throughout his adult life, Don Flavio collected books, newspapers, journals, and classical music, all of which are still in his house at #2448 Avenida Ecuador in Sopocachi, La Paz.  You can make an appointment to visit the library and archive by contacting Don Eduardo Machicado Saravia (at (2)2411791), Flavio’s son who still lives in the historic house and currently is the director of the foundation. You may find something that will help with your research, or simply enjoy a tour of a beautiful, old Sopocachi home and learn about the history of La Paz and the treasures housed there from Don Eduardo.

If you wish to attend a more formal event there are two opportunities.

Between May 28th and June 18th, 2009, there is a wonderful exposition at the Espacio Simón I. Patiño of the FFMV collections. “La Paz: Momentos de Historia y Cultura” presents information on the life of Don Flavio and a sampling of his collections related to the architecture and cultural life of La Paz between 1900 and 1950. Click on the link above to find out more information.

Any Saturday from 6:30-8:30 pm you can also attend the longest standing tradition of the FFMV known as “Las Flaviadas”, where people gather to listen to Don Flavio’s classical music collection. Don Flavio believed that music should be shared and since 1938 he has opened the doors of his house so that any interested person could come in and listen, free of charge. His son, Don Eduardo, continues this tradition today and prepares a two hour program presenting composers ranging from Handel and Mozart to Prokofiev and Messiaen. You can find the weekly programs at “Las Flaviadas” Facebook page (please join our group!), in the cultural calendars published around La Paz, or in the windows of various Sopocachi cafes, restaurants, and book stores.

The FFMV is a wonderful institution that is actively conserving and creating the intellectual and cultural life of La Paz. Hopefully it can aid in your research or provide a pleasant space to relax after a busy week site-seeing or tracking down interviews.

Olivia Harris, 1948-2009

I have only just heard the news that Professor Olivia Harris passed away on April 9.  She was also eulogized in the Guardian.  Although she taught at Goldsmiths’ College in London, she has left her mark on this side of the pond, too.

I had the privilege of taking a course with Prof. Harris while she was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago in the Spring quarter of 2005.  While I had read her work before then (of course!), she made an enormous impact on how I thought about Tiwanaku, especially about the local mythic histories of the archaeological site.  She was a wonderful mentor and professor, and although the class was small we all adored her.  (As evidence I present this: I was taking the class pass/fail and still did all the reading!)

We went with her to visit the appearance of the Virgin of Guadelupe at the Fullerton underpass in Chicago.  It was a beautiful site, adorned with photos and candles. I saw her reading something pasted on the wall, a handwritten note.  When she turned away she quickly wiped away a tear.  She said that it was a plea from a mother to a son, by name — all is forgiven, please come home.

Those of you in academia know it is rare for us to show such emotion in front of each other.  And yet what could be more moving than a mother begging her son to return home?

Her empathy and humanity was as impressive as her scholarship, and in anthropology that is the deepest compliment.  What a tragedy that she has left us so soon.

Jim Schultz at the University of Chicago this Tuesday, Feb 24

The World Beyond the Headlines presents:
Jim Shultz and Melissa Crane Draper on their book, “Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization”
Moderated by Jerome McDonnell, host of Chicago Public Radio’s, “Worldview”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Free and for the public
International House, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago IL 60637

Author Jim Shultz is founder and Executive Director of the San Francisco based Democracy Center and has lived and worked in Bolivia for much of the past decade, chronicling grassroots movements to control exploitation of Bolivia’s natural resources, from water resources to oil and natural gas. With Melissa Crane Draper and other Democracy Center affiliates, Shultz places Bolivians’ struggles in a broader context of Latin America’s experiences with forces of globalization.

The World Beyond the Headlines series is a collaborative project of the University of Chicago Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and is funded in part by the McCormick Tribune Foundation. This event is also cosponsored by the University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies and Human Rights Program. The aim of the World Beyond the Headlines series is to bring scholars and journalists together to consider major international issues and how they are covered in the media.

More information available here.

Indigenous legal system conference at American University

It’s actually a conference about recent Mexican legal reforms in Oaxaca, but in “comparative perspective.” But Todd Eisenstadt at American University has put together a conference on legal system reforms that introduce “indigenous” or “communitarian” justice in pluralist societies.

It’s a two day conference, February 19-20. I’m chairing and acting as discussant for one of the panels. But there will also be papers of specific interest to Bolivianists: one by Donna Lee Van Cott on Latin America’s move towards multiculturalism, the other is by Erik Cooke on indigenous autonomy in Bolivia’s constitutional reforms.

Van Cott is a professor of political science at University of Connecticut and has written extensively on indigenous movements and parties in the Andes. Cooke is a PhD candidate at American University. The conference, which will include discussions of cases like Mexico, Turkey, Israel, and broader discussions of secularism and multiculturalism as they apply to legal institutions. The conference will later become an edited volume on the subject.

Aymara Course in Chicago, Summer 2009

For anyone interested in learning Aymara, it will be taught by Miguel Huanca (a native speaker from Bolivia) at the University of Chicago in summer 2009.  You can find more information about the course here, and there is funding available through FLAS.

I took Prof. Huanca’s course and later worked with him a little on his textbook.  In addition to being the only course on Aymara offered the United States, I would also add that Prof. Huanca is a wonderful teacher, and this is the best Aymara course I have encountered anywhere.  His textbook is designed to teach Aymara to those with no experience with the language — a rarity, since it is often assumed that those who wish to improve their Aymara skills already speak it at least a little.  While Spanish would be helpful (not only for this class, but for traveling in Bolivia generally) it is not necessary.

In the past, this course has attracted not only those who wish to learn Aymara for fieldwork (largely graduate students) but also a few who wish to study a non-Indoeuropean language for other reasons.  In either case, I would highly recommend this course and its professor.

“Political Polarization in the Andes” panel at GW

If anyone’s in the DC area next Tuesday (December 9), I’ll be part of a panel on “Political Polarization in the Andes” at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. The panel will include Craig Kauffman (a Ph.D. candidate at GW), to speak about Ecuador, and possibly also John Walsh (from the Washington Office on Latin America), to speak about Venezuela.

The presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, December 9, 2:45-4:15 in the Elliott School Lindner Commons (6th floor), 1957 E Street, NW. For other events at the Elliot School, see their events calendar.