Constructing community in the digital home studio: Carnival, creativity and indigenous music video production in the Bolivian Andes

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This paper examines issues surrounding the production of a Carnival music video VCD in the home studio of the Bolivian indigenous (originario) musician and cultural activist Gregorio Mamani. On the one hand, continuities with rural productive practices suggest a model for the ‘home studio’ more resembling a ‘cottage industry’ than the kind of ‘isolated’ activity separate from family life that Paul Théberge has described for the case of North America (1997). On the other hand, the urban isolation, entrepreneurial motivations, and concern with promoting the individual that characterise Gregorio Mamani’s home studio suggest the very antithesis of indigenous community values. Notwithstanding difficult relations with his community of origin and his use of technological artifice to construct (or even ‘fake’) an audiovisual impression of the communitas of Carnival, Mamani presents this work as a means to ‘strengthen culture’. Despite these contradictions, this low budget production – targeted at rural peasants and urban migrants – is shown to engage deeply with indigenous concepts of creativity and oral tradition, as well as potentially contributing to the construction
of broader circuits of culture and ‘imagined communities’. Mamani’s individualistic, yet influential, approach and his insistence that only one or two individuals are the composers in an indigenous community, challenges us to question the relationship between creativity and community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209–226
Number of pages17
JournalPopular Music
Issue number2
Early online date27 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • music video
  • community
  • indigeneity
  • Bolivia
  • home studio
  • digital technology
  • VCD

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