Tag Archives: economic opportunities

An ethnography of Bolivian Aymara traders in the global economy

A book by Oxford University Press:

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About the Book

Based on years of fieldwork, this ethnography of the Bolivian Aymara trading system and its networks and economic strategies examines one of the most up-and-coming forms of indigenous entrepreneurship on the American continent, in a region where the indigenous population is still stigmatized for being associated with poverty and backward ways. In doing so, it illuminates a critical dynamic of globalization that is taking place behind the scenes. By analyzing Aymara economic institutions and networks and their concepts and practices of business management, The Native World-System describes a system in which indigenous sociopolitical structures and religious values and beliefs are interwoven with an advanced economic practice, specialized technological know-how, and global networks.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.49.58 AMThe Native World-System is a volume in the ISSUES OF GLOBALIZATION: CASE STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY series, which examines the experiences of individual communities in our contemporary world. Each volume offers a brief and engaging exploration of a particular issue arising from globalization and its cultural, political, and economic effects on certain peoples or groups.

Nico Tassi is a Research Associate at University College London and at the Centro de Investigaciónes Sociales (CIS) in La Paz, Bolivia.


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For more photographs, please use this link.

Web Links

– Bolivia’s indigenous people flaunt their new-found wealth


– In Bolivia, ‘New Andean’ architecture applies new money to old traditions


– BOLIVIA: Aymara Traders Mix Tradition and Modern-Day Savvy


– Las millonarias inversiones aymaras que están cambiando La Paz


You can also read the news in Spanish with this link.


I always thought the Aymara people were like the Phoenicians. You can see them country-wide doing business. I have seen them conducting/owning large businesses, huge capital but continue to live modestly …

I cannot understand why they don’t give more to their children, in terms of betters formal education, health, nutrition as certainly they can afford it. There are some of them that send their sons for months to China, they learn the language and are there just to control on the goods they are buying to their own specifications.

On the other hand, they also like to party a lot, and they do it well, spend a lot of their wealth at least once a year. They party for over a week and nothing matters to them during those festivities called “presterio.”

They go live everywhere where they can to do business, I don’t know if it is hard of them to mingle or assimilate the new culture and customs but wherever they go they continue to live as they were born … you see Aymara women in hot, humid weather still using the clothing (skirt-pollers) that they use in the cold and dry highlands.

I have seen them flourish inside the informal sector, I just wonder how much could they have grown, had they had better incentives to be formal. They practically control most of the smuggling of electronic appliances and other imported household goods.

I admire them as they take over businesses and services no other group does.