Syncretic Subjects and Body Politics: Doubleness, Personhood, and Aymara Catechists

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Abstract

Missionaries describe the Aymara catechists with whom they work as "divided in two"—part "Aymara" and part "Christian." This characterization of partial cultural merging links a dualizing paradigm of embodiment with a dualizing approach to conjunctural settings familiar from much of the Andean ethnographic literature and casts Aymara as passive indices of colonial and postcolonial history. Drawing upon contrasting approaches to embodiment and identity, and illustrating these with data from the Aymara case, I examine the positioned practices by which catechists realize such composite settings as coherent lived worlds. [Aymara, Bolivia, embodiment, identity, missionization, personhood, syncretism]

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