Jonathan Alderman

PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology

Personal website

My PhD research examines the meaning of autonomy and the good life for the Kallawayas, an indigenous Andean nation in Bolivia. The Kallawayas are one of several indigenous people in Bolivia taking advantage of recent constitutional changes to convert their municipality into an officially recognised indigenous territory, autonomous from the state. My research looks at the meaning of autonomy within the Kallawaya cosmovision, and examines how the Kallawayas have been creating autonomy for themselves in their own social relations with townspeople prior to recent national-level laws. The ‘good life’ for the Kallawayas is also a part of my research because one of the stated aims of the autonomies in the legal framework is to allow indigenous peoples to ‘live well’.

Collaboration has been an important part of my research so far. My collaboration with informants in the field took the form of allowing myself to be guided in my research to a large extent by certain informants who became friends of mine. Certain friends would advise me who I should meet to discover more about particular topics, and so their own imprint became visible in the direction the thesis has taken. Since returning from Bolivia I have continued the process of collaboration with informants by sending some of them drafts of chapters, and incorporating comments on my writing. One future project I would like to engage in is to publish a joint piece of research written with a friend who is one of my main informants in my thesis. This would be a political history of the past thirty years in the Kallawaya region.