Master of Arts (MA)
Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)
Date of Defense
First Committee Member
Tracy Devine Guzmán
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Counter to popular expectations, marginalized peoples—including those who have long suffered from racism and discrimination—are sometimes active and enthusiastic consumers of media products that portray them in potentially negative ways. For example, El Cholo Juanito y Richard Douglas (CJRD), a Peruvian television comedy based on stereotypical representations of Quechua migrants and assimilated mestizo city dwellers, has enjoyed great popularity in highland Bolivia from 2005 to the present, including in the Quechua-speaking town of Morado Q’asa. Based on in-depth field research and a series of personal interviews, this thesis explores the reception of CJRD in Morado Q’asa to analyze the construction and negotiation of ethnic, regional, and national identities among its residents. While CJRD elicits a wide variety of responses, both laudatory and critical, most viewers considered the show to be an intra-ethnic production that was at times empowering to its Quechua protagonist and, by association, its real and imagined Quechua audiences. Additionally, I found that many interviewees connected the conflictive relationship portrayed between the two main characters (one stereotypically “traditional,” the other stereotypically “assimilated”) to their own strained relationships with “pretentious” returned migrants and youth from a neighboring, more “Hispanicized” town. This research indicates that many people of Quechua heritage in Morado Q’asa struggle to identify as Quechua while simultaneously freeing themselves from old stigmas associated with “Indianness,” as well as the hypocrisy frequently attributed to cambas—lowland Bolivians who embrace and exalt “modern,” global identities while rejecting indigeneity. Researched and written in the context of Evo Morales’ MAS presidency, this work demonstrates how community engagements with and uses of media can reveal creative and sometimes surprising processes of identity construction and negotiation in a complex and rapidly shifting ethno-political landscape.
Quechua; Bolivia; indigeneity; media; Andes; identity
North, Jennifer A., "Distant Neighbors: Shifting Borders of Comedy, Identity, and Conflict in Andean Bolivia" (2015). Open Access Theses. 561.