Bolivian Andean textiles, commercialization and modernity




Richardson, Natalie Lila

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In research, we frequently position “modernity” against “tradition” to explain cultural changes within the indigenous realm. Such is the case of Andean textile studies, where commercialization and modernity are frequently attributed to the decline in Andean communities’ production and donning of hand-woven textiles. By doing this, we distance ourselves from the underlying issues causing these changes: poverty, discrimination, ethnic social stratification, etc. Also, by positioning “modernity” outside and against the indigenous realm, we contribute to the notion that modernity belongs to the western world alone and can only be achieved by Western influence. In doing so, we confine Andean textiles to a static notion of identity and ignore and antagonize the creative strategies that weavers’ use, moving outside of this notion.
My work questions the “tradition” versus “modernity” binary by analyzing its history and first appearance in Bolivian Andean textile scholarship, and by analyzing changes within Andean textiles between the Inca and Colonial periods. My study also sheds light on the workings of internal colonialism within Andean textiles in the Bolivian regions of Jalq’a and Tarabuco.



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