Monday, September 15, 2014

Indigenous in Bolivia

One reviewer of my 2nd edition U.S. and Latin American Relations textbook referenced the 2012 Bolivian census to get a more accurate percentage of Bolivians who are of Aymara or Quechua descent. Reading it, though, I realized it's not terribly useful because it only asks respondents over the age of 15 how they self-identify. That leaves out just around 1/3 of the population.

I understand we might say that children 15 and younger are not in a position to self-identify, but without them how do we make definitive conclusions about the entire population, especially one so young?

Really, the more you look, the more obviously difficult it is to get a firm grip on the percentage of the population that is "indigenous." In 2001, for example, some 20% of the Bolivian population self-identified as indigenous despite not having any "recorded ethnolinguistic marker" that would suggest they likely would be.


mcentellas 7:59 AM  

You could also mention that the 2012 and 2001 censuses diverged in number of self-identified indigenous. The number went up in 2001 and then fell sharply in 2012. LAPOP surveys also show wide variation. Probably because ethnic identity is fluid in countries with Mestizaje.

Lillie Langtry 11:46 AM  

I don't know how the censuses are conducted in Bolivia, but I was included in the 2001 one in Ecuador. Everyone had to stay in on a Sunday and wait for some schoolkids, aged around 16 and wearing their uniforms, to come and ask us the questions and fill out the form. When it got to the race one, our census-takers took one look at the three foreigners in the room and ticked "white" without actually asking us! They only asked our Colombian roommate how she self-identified.

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