Queer and indigenous (dis)encounters: exploring multiple gender and sexual indigenous identities in Plurinational Bolivia

  • Lavanchy, Anne A. (PI)
  • Purtschert, Patricia P. (CoPI)
  • Prudén, Hernan H. (CoPI)
  • Castro, Maria Dolores M.D. (CoPI)
  • Absi, Pascale P. (CoPI)
  • Gustafson, Bret B. (CoPI)
  • Aruquipa Pérez, David D. (CoPI)
  • Dario Chambi, Ruben R. (CoPI)

Project Details


How do indigeneity and queerness intersect in Plurinational Bolivia? Framed around this overarching research question, our project explores the intersections between indigenous, gender and sexual identities, through the analysis of quotidian expressions of non-cis and non-heteronormative indigenous identities in Bolivia. While indigeneity and gender- have generated many studies, very few among them have focused on narratives, body performances and expressions or the political articulations of expressing these complex identities from the vantage point of a grounded ethnographic and empirical perspective. Our project specifically addresses this gap. We understand the queer perspective as a theoretical framework that allows us to analyse heteronormative and binary behaviour in different areas of the Bolivian social reality as a neo-colonial practice. Queer is flexible, mouldable, an opportunity, but also a challenge that highlights the indigenous, gender and sexual identities. Officially labelled as a “Plurinational State" since 2009, Bolivia offers a highly interesting space to explore these intersections. Plurinationality relates first to the recognition of indigenous people but has been expanded towards other forms of pluralism, in particular those linked to gender and sexuality. Still, the 2019 political crisis has shown the frailty and limits of that recognition. To consider our research question of how indigeneity and queerness intersect in Plurinational Bolivia we have divided it into three lines of inquiry: (1) indigenous queer lived experiences; (2) anti-colonial narratives around sexuality and indigeneity; (3) emergent political subjectivities at the crossroads between queerness and indigeneity. To explore these axes, we propose an innovative approach combining the analysis of five case studies, and the methodological tool of ethnography. Each of the five in-depth case studies offer a specific experience in which our theoretical assumptions are examined in distinct and complementary ways. The diversity of the case studies, which will provide a variety of empirical situations, will offer different angles and perspectives from which to investigate our research problem. Our interdisciplinary team relies on ethnographic methods, which includes floating and participant observation, informal conversations and formal interviews with selected participants. We have an effective and strong team in Switzerland and Bolivia, bringing together a high degree of academic expertise, fieldwork competences and lived experiences relevant to this study, as some members are scholars who self-define as indigenous and/or non-heteronormative.

Effective start/end date1/09/2231/08/25


  • Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung


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