In the highland region of Sullk'ata, located in the rural
Bolivian Andes, habitual activities such as sharing food, work, and
stories create a sense of relatedness among people. Through these
day-to-day interactions-as well as more unusual events-individuals
negotiate the affective bonds and hierarchies of their
relationships. In Performing Kinship, Krista E. Van
Vleet reveals the ways in which relatedness is evoked, performed,
and recast among the women of Sullk'ata.
Portraying relationships of camaraderie and conflict, Van Vleet
argues that narrative illuminates power relationships, which
structure differences among women as well as between women and men.
She also contends that in the Andes gender cannot be understood
without attention to kinship.
Stories such as that of the young woman who migrates to the city
to do domestic work and later returns to the highlands voicing a
deep ambivalence about the traditional authority of her in-laws
provide enlightening examples of the ways in which storytelling
enables residents of Sullk'ata to make sense of events and link
themselves to one another in a variety of relationships. A vibrant
ethnography, Performing Kinship offers a rare glimpse
into an compelling world.
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