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Becoming Luis: A Photo Essay on Growing up in Bolivia


  • Jerome W. Crowder

  • All images by author, unless otherwise noted.


Luis is an Aymara boy whom I have known since his birth in 1996. Although he and his mother were not initially central to my research on migration in the Andes, they belong to the family I worked with in El Alto, Bolivia. During a return visit ten years later, I recognized the importance of his story within my research, and thus reviewed my field notes and photo library to find images and stories about them. Photography plays a major role in my research, as I use images as mementos as well as stimuli for discussion. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and 15 years' distance, Luis and Basilia represent the quintessential migrant experience, one I may have overlooked if I had not asked new questions of old data.