International migration has become a widespread phenomenon across the Andes in recent decades. In Bolivia, where approximately 20 percent of the population lives abroad, long-term routes of migration have transformed cities and rural areas within the country and beyond. This dissertation examines the lives of Bolivian migrants from the Valle Alto of Cochabamba in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Drawing on Bolivian scholars, I analyze the non-linear paths taken by migrants and the varied nature of indigenous experiences through the vertical archipelago model. Using a collaborative multi-sited ethnography of migrant organizations, I explore the circulation of money, values and practices between migrant settlement nodes and places of origin. I show that Bolivian hometown associations have adapted rural organizational practices to a suburban U.S. landscape while also transforming places in the Valle Alto. I also analyze migrant efforts
to negotiate their belonging within changing citizenship regimes in Washington D.C. and Cochabamba. By playing soccer, performing folkloric dance in public spaces and constructing transnational houses and public works projects, Bolivian migrants are able to be recognized as members of communities in Cochabamba and the Washington D.C.
metro area even if they are not physically present or formal members of the national polity. Finally, I analyze the decisions of migrants to stay in the Washington or return to Bolivia through the lens of gender and the family, highlighting the importance of family responsibility and fatherhood for male migrants. The case of migration from the rural
municipality of Arbieto offers important insights into both the struggles and opportunities confronting migrants as they traverse international, regional and local boundaries and put down roots in multiple places. Ultimately, I argue that migrant practices are changing what it means to be a campesino (peasant) from the Valle Alto. While Bolivian migrants
are using collective remittances and the intention to return to construct a reformulated rural identity based on long-distance ties and investment in the rural economy, migrant identities also have to be located within a broader understanding of belonging that takes into account the deep roots that migrants have developed in multiple communities.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2012. Major: Geography. Advisor: Helga Leitner. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 268 pages, appendices p. 267-268.
Circulating citizenship practices: Bolivian routes of migration, hometown associations, and development..
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