28 Jul 2023  |  Ruben Darío Chambi

Qamiris. Aymara economic practices in the city of El Alto, Bolivia

DGSKA Conference (LMU Munich, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Qamiri is an Aymara term that refers to individuals or families who have achieved social and economic prosperity within their community. Recently, the term has become widely used in the city of El Alto, especially in academic and political circles, as a category representing the new elites of Indigenous traders in this city. Qamiris have risen to social and economic prominence thanks to their success as traders, which is a result of their local and transnational commercial connections, as well as the socio-material manifestations of their spending power.

This paper, based on case studies that use an autoethnographic approach, seeks to explore the socioeconomic practices of this sector, as well as to consider its epistemological and political foundations. The Qamiris of El Alto are a relevant case for the study of the different logics of economic prosperity in urban Indigenous populations, in a context where official policy, based on philosophical principles such as Vivir Bien, presents this group as part of an anti-mercantile society.

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The paper will be presented as part of the conference workshop no. 25 "Knowledge Production in South American Urban Indigenous and Popular Economies", hosted by Carmen Ibáñez and Juliane Müller.

The conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologieon, DGSKA (German Anthropological Association, GAA) “Contested Knowledge: Anthropological Perspectives“ will take place in Munich from 25 – 28 July 2023. It is organised and hosted by the GAA together with the Munich Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology.