Grasping Cacophony in Bolivian Heritage Otherwise

Michelle Bigenho, Henry Stobart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

257 Downloads (Pure)


A “fever” of heritage registration (patrimonialización) is raging at multiple levels of Bolivian society. Under the pro-indigenous government of Evo Morales, many laws have moved specific cultural expressions into legal framings as intangible cultural heritage. In part, this booming interest in heritage may be related to desires to capitalize on cultures, to support cultural rights claims, and/or some combination of these economic and cultural rights explanations. To help account for specific local uptakes of heritage assemblages and for differences between the levels of heritage dispute, however, this paper suggests also considering a “heritage otherwise” perspective. Rather than attributing local conflicts over heritage “cradle” declarations entirely to the impact of neoliberalism and UNESCO’s processes, this paper explores them in terms of the dynamics of origin politics and a preference for cacophonous modes of musical performance. Such dynamics and “cacophonous relations,” it is argued, are more about reproducing worlds than parceling them into new forms of property.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329–1363
Number of pages35
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date12 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Feb 2019


  • intangible heritage; ontology; alternative epistemologies; indigeneity; cradle status; cacophonous relations; Bolivia

Cite this