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Title: Carnival in Oruro (Bolivia)
Authors: Cordova, Ximena
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis critically examines the contemporary role of popular culture in processes of transmission of national memory. The analysis is based on the celebration of Carnival in Oruro, Bolivia’s most prominent folkloric pageant. The Oruro Carnival celebrations are officially promoted all over the world as an accurate representation of Bolivia’s cultural heritage. Following Hall (2006) I take cultural heritage to be a discursive practice around ideas of transmissions of cultural memory. In the bid to UNESCO for recognition as a World Intangible Heritage ‘site’, presented by Oruro’s cultural authorities, emphasis was placed on the antiquity and accumulative powers of the celebration. In the official discourse, the Carnival parade connects past to present in ways that project particular ideas of locality and the national, centred on Catholicism and the mestizo ideology of Nationalist Populism in the 1940s and 1950s. But, in embracing such particular traits of the national, who’s past and present are being projected in official discourses of intangible cultural heritage? The analysis, supported primarily by scholarly literature on identity and race in the Andes, decolonial thinking and heritage studies, demonstrates that the discourse of heritage transmitted through the celebration of the Oruro Carnival has been systematically used to forge nation‐making projects that embody hegemonic interests, and exclude indigenous and indigenous mestizos. The ethnographic work was organised around three main ideas: national representation and the interconnections between power and memory, race and the racialisation of culture, and the mediatory dimension of cultural performance. Using data collected primarily through participant observation and ‘participant experience’ in performative practices from fieldwork in Oruro, and a methodology based on Grounded Theory (Charmaz 2006), I identify the connections between the transmission of hegemonic depictions of the past, the ‘eclipse’ of indigenous histories and experiences, and contemporary political exclusion of indigenous actors. I also look at the political responses that have emerged from the dialogical dimension of popular culture and festive performance and the agency of the actors excluded from processes of national representation that take place the festivity.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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