Between the Andes and the Amazon
Language and Social Meaning in Bolivia
Between the Andes and the Amazon is ethnography in storytelling form, a rigorous yet sensitive exploration of how people understand themselves and others as members of social groups through the words and languages they use.
Drawing on fifteen years of ethnographic research, Babel offers a close examination of how people produce oppositions, even as they might position themselves “in between” those categories. These oppositions form the raw material of the social system that people accept as “normal” or “the way things are.” Meaning-making happens through language use and language play, Babel explains, and the practice of using Spanish versus Quechua is a claim to an identity or a social position. Babel gives personal perspectives on what it is like to live in this community, focusing on her own experiences and those of her key consultants. Between the Andes and the Amazon opens new ways of thinking about what it means to be a speaker of an indigenous or colonial language—or a mix of both.
“This book is a model of both rigorous interdisciplinary research, and compassionate, engaged ethnography.”—Anthropological Linguistics
“Babel’s engaging and insightful analysis highlights the complexity inherent in linguistic and cultural contact. This beautifully written ethnography will be a crucial resource for linguistic anthropologists and scholars of Latin America.”—Rusty Barrett, author of From Drag Queens to Leathermen: Language, Gender, and Gay Male Subcultures
“An innovative book, grounded in ethnography, while never losing sight of the linguistic details that pervade and inform our social world. One hopes that more books will be written in this spirit.”—Anthony K. Webster, author of Intimate Grammars: An Ethnography of Navajo Poetry