The Citizen Factory

Schooling and Cultural Production in Bolivia

By Aurolyn Luykx

Subjects: Anthropology
Series: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education
Paperback : 9780791440384, 399 pages, December 1998
Hardcover : 9780791440377, 399 pages, January 1999

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Table of contents

Foreword by Douglas Foley




Educational Theory and School Ethnography

Indigenous Peoples, Schools, and the Nation-State

1 Ethnicity and the Construction of Nationhood

From Conquest to Crisis: An Overview of Bolivia's Political Development

The Indigenous Metropolis: Urban Aymarasin La Paz

Popular Culture and "The Language Problem"

Obstacles to the Construction of a Unified and Unifying Bolivian Nationalism

Race and Class in the Nationalist Project

Official History and Popular Humor: Public Tropes of Ethnic and International Conflict

Finding a "We": Defining Lo Boliviano against a Hostile World

2 Rural Schooling in Bolivia

Roots of Aymara Education: The Struggle for Land and Literacy

Rural Education in the Twentieth Century: Government Takes up the Reins

Reverence and Resentment: Teachers and Rural Communities

On the Threshold of Reform

3 Student Life at the Normal School

"Peor que nada es quedarse . . .": Career Choices and the Lack Thereof

Students as Regulated Subjects

Dormitory Life

4 Curriculum and Identity

The Reproduction of Ideology in Schools: Socialization as the Interpellation of Student-Subjects

The Citizen in the Nation, the Nation in the World

Proletarian Professionals: The Ambiguous Class Identity of Bolivian Teachers

The Teacher in the Rural Community: Solidarity and Social Distance

Uneasy Positionings on the Field of Race-or, "We Have Met El Hermano Campesino and His Is (not?) Us"

Gender Ideology in the Normal School: Frozen Images and Structured Silences

Conclusion: Rural Education and the Race/Class Intersection

5 Commodified Language and Alienated Exchange in the Normal School

Pedagogical Praxis and "School Knowledge"

The Capitalist Mode of Symbolic Production: Schoolwork as Alienated Labor

6 Student Resistance to Commodification and Alienation: Silence, Satire, and the Academic Black Market

Resistance in the Classroom

The Linguistic Black Market: Illicit Exchange in the Academic Economy

Student Resistance through Expressive Practices

7 An Alternative Vision: Notes toward a Transformative Bolivian Pedagogy

Día del Indio , Los Pozos (August 1, 1993)

Socialization and the Multiple Subject

Political Practice and Popular Culture

Rehabilitating Marx: Hegemonic Subject Positions as Alienated Use Values

Building a Democratic Pedagogy

Schooling as Cultural Critique

Directions for Future Research

Structural Pessimism vs. Strategic Optimism

Appendix: Interviewed Students




A vivid ethnography of a group of students training to become schoolteachers in Bolivia and the challenges they face as they try to maintain their indigenous identity.


This vivid ethnography of Bolivian students explores the challenges they confront as they try to maintain their indigenous identity. In examining how the concrete practices of schooling shape student identities, this book looks at how the discourses and texts produced by students themselves are appropriated toward this end, and how students mobilize their own cultural resources to contest this process, critiquing and subtly transforming the agenda of state-run education. These issues are addressed as they are played out in the lives of young Native South Americans (Aymaras) studying to become rural schoolteachers in Bolivia, the poorest and most "indigenous" of all Latin American countries. It is a vivid ethnographic account of how these students confront the assaults which their professional training wages against their indigenous identity, as they alternately absorb and contest the ethnic, class, and gender images meant to transform them from "Aymara Indians" into "Bolivian citizens."

Aurolyn Luykx teaches in the Linguistic and in the Pedagogy departments at the Universidad Mayor de San Simon (UMSS), Cochabamba, Bolivia.


"The Citizen Factory is a testimony to the organic character of all ethnographic interpretation...This study of a Bolivian Normal School will challenge comparative politics and comparative education scholars to rethink their studies of political socialization. Moreover, fellow anthropologists will be drawn to [the author's] theoretical model for studying ideological hegemony and identity construction. In short, Luykx has produced an 'educational ethnography' that extends the genre itself." — Douglas Foley, from the Foreword

"The ethnographic descriptions are rich, and well embedded in history and in the broader social context. The author has done a very thorough study. The book shows the links between the larger social structure and day-to-day life. In fact, it shows the work people do to create (and sometimes contest) the larger social structure—in this case, gender, ethnic, and class identities." — Kathryn M. Anderson-Levitt, University of Michigan, Dearborn