Circulating citizenship practices: Bolivian routes of migration, hometown associations, and development.

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Circulating citizenship practices: Bolivian routes of migration, hometown associations, and development.

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


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.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Strunk, Christopher. (2012). Circulating citizenship practices: Bolivian routes of migration, hometown associations, and development.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.