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Roosters at Midnight

Indigenous Signs and Stigma in Local Bolivian Politics

Robert Albro

Bolivia is a nation energetically confronting stubborn legacies of second-class citizenship as part of their historic process of political transformation, which began in early 2000 and culminated in the election to the presidency in late 2005 of Aymara-descended coca grower and opposition leader Evo Morales. The civil unrest seen in those intervening years was a spectacular expression of grassroots disenchantment and a sharp rebuke to the politics of Bolivia’s neoliberal democratization, which began in sweeping structural adjustment measures during 1985.

Set in the largely urban provincial capital of Quillacollo, this book is an ethnographic examination of municipal politics in the context of renewed elections of local-level officials beginning in 1987 after a hiatus of almost forty years. Understanding who these people are, how they think of themselves, and how they relate with each other politically tells us a great deal about the everyday neopopular political ground that has steadily been moving Bolivian national politics toward a greater rapprochement with its indigenous heritage.

2010. 264 pp., 13 figures, notes, glossary, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Robert Albro

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“In its finely wrought detail, its loving attention to the subtleties of daily interaction, its insightful analysis of the political uses of culture and heritage and genealogy, [this book] is like no other ethnography of the Andes that I have read. It is a gem of a book.”
—Daniel M. Goldstein, Rutgers University

“Robert Albro’s new ethnography demonstrates how daily practices and expressions of ‘humble people’ in periurban Quillacollo shape and color a neopopular political scene that preceded and continues to inform Bolivia’s high-profile indigenous politics…. Roosters at Midnight makes a valuable contribution to evolving understandings of political agency and indigeneity, and its rich ethnographic material responds to urgent needs for sophisticated work on men and masculinities.”
—Susan Paulson, Lund University and Miami University, American Anthropologist, vol. 114, no. 3, September 2012

“This book is a marvellously detailed, subtle and complex ethnography of local politics…and one of the first books written in the context of Evo Morales’ rise to power that has managed to fully take this on board…. One of the joys of this book is that it will ring so true to anyone who has studied urban politics in Bolivia.”
—Sian Lazar, University of Cambridge, Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 45, 2013


  1. Introduction: Politics in a Ch’ajchu City
  2. Llunk’erío: Clientelism and the Problem of Stigma
  3. Fictive Feasting: The Mixing and Parsing of Native Sentiments
  4. The Chola Cult: The Political Imagination and Cultural Intimacy
  5. Patrimonial Pendejadas: Self-Prospecting and Cultural Estrangement
  6. Recognition and Realpolitik: Spectacle, Career, and Factional Genealogies
  7. Conclusion: The Humble Politics of Negative Solidarity

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.