Starting from Quirpini

Starting from Quirpini

The Travels and Places of a Bolivian People
Stuart Alexander Rockefeller
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/16/2010
Format: paper 320 pages, 14 b&w illus.
6 x 9 x .875
ISBN: 978-0-253-22210-7
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The people of Quirpini, a rural community in the Bolivian Andes, are in constant motion. They visit each other's houses, work in their fields, go to nearby towns for school, market, or official transactions, and travel to Buenos Aires for wage labor. In this rich ethnography, Stuart Alexander Rockefeller describes how these places become intertwined via circuits constituted by the movement of people, goods, and information. Drawing on the work of Henri LeFebvre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Nancy Munn, Rockefeller argues that by their travels, Quirpinis play a role in shaping the places they move through. This compelling study makes important contributions to contemporary debates about spatiality, temporality, power, and culture.

Author Bio

Stuart Alexander Rockefeller is a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.


"A groundbreaking book [that] re-envisions place as formed by individual movements, trips and digressions as well as a situational context for action." —Setha M. Low, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

"It is very difficult to write ethnography about a small and unfamiliar place that is compelling to read, that flows from detail to detail, event to event, with the pleasurable sense of one's following along as a relaxed, but deeply curious, and somewhat surprised observer. [Stuart Rockefeller] succeeds in this. . . . [A] beautifully written ethnography. . . .an example of careful and evocative writing about what people do. It is a pleasure to read and a model of good writing as well as good anthropology." —Laurie Kain Hart, Haverford College

"... an important contribution to the existing bibliography on the politics of movement." —
Journal of Folklore Research , May 4, 2011

Starting from Quirpini is a beautifully crafted, accomplished text that is essential reading for those interested in migration, transnationalism, Andean ethnography, and the anthropology of space." —Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"[T]his is an important book that should be widely read by scholars of the Andes and of migration, as well as those interested in the construction of places and borders." —American Anthropologist

"[A] groundbreaking book . . . Rockefeller’s in-depth descriptions and theoretically savvy analysis guide the reader through the process by which space and place [are] constituted." —Rural Sociology

"[O]ffers a nuanced portrait of life in rural Chuquisaca during the 1990s, which sheds light on the dynamic and multi-scalar processes that go into the making of a place. The book contributes to the . . . literature on the social construction of place . . . ." —Bulletin of Latin American Research

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Table of Contents


Part 1. Inscriptions
Introduction: Disorientations
1. Places and History in and about Quirpini

Part 2. Facets of a Place
2. Bicycles and Houses
3. The Geography of Planting Corn
4. Carnival and the Spatial Practice of Community

Part 3. From Quirpini
5. Ethnic Politics and the Control of Movement
6. Placing Bolivia in Quirpini: Civic Ritual and the Power of Context
7. Where Do You Go When You Go to Buenos Aires?

Conclusion: Coming Back to Quirpini

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