Department of Social Anthropology

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Navigating Multiple Temporalities: Continuities, Ruptures and Rituals among Young Alteños in Morales' Bolivia

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Master's thesis submitted at Department of Social Anthropology, autumn 2014.

By: Osmund Engelbregt Bøhmer Grøholt
Supervisor: Associate Professor Bjørn Enge Bertelsen


At issue in this thesis is the lives of the first urban generation in an ex-miners’ neighbourhood of El Alto, Bolivia. Previous studies on temporality and memory in the Andes have not focused specifically on the category of ‘urban youth’. This is despite the fact that such studies have often pointed out that the urban young differ from those in the countryside in the way they approach and relate to time.

Based on ethnographic data collected through participant observation from June to December in 2013, I seek to understand what I argue to be complex and multiple temporalities shaping the urban youth’s lives. As a vantage point to understand multiple and socially experienced temporalities, I draw on what Gell (1992) calls ‘A-series time’. A general argument that will be made is that religious and non-religious rituals, such as annual commemorations involving dance, work temporally in the way that through them people create and negotiate ruptures and continuities with the past and future.