Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology


Nell Haynes to Speak on Indigenous Bolivian Women Wrestlers

Nell Haynes to Speak on Indigenous Bolivian Women Wrestlers
Global Cholas: Reworking Authenticity and Indigeneity in Bolivian Lucha Libre
Dr. Nell Haynes
Thursday, April 27th at 4pm
Cuneo 109
In the early 2000s, a group of women in La Paz, Bolivia began wrestling in exhibition events while wearing the traditional “de pollera” clothing of urban indigenous women. They dubbed themselves the “cholitas luchadoras” [wrestling cholas]. This character name draws on the word chola, a name which has historically been used in derogatory ways but more recently has become a sort of national icon and is reclaimed in certain instances. These women, over the past 15 years have gained great fame among both tourists and locals in La Paz. Bolivian lucha libre draws its lineage from wrestling in Mexico and the United States, but travelers often assume it represents a traditional form, given the characters and costuming representing urban indigenous women. The luchadoras creatively rework tourists’ assumptions that they are “traditional” peoples performing in “exotic” events, utilizing these perceptions and resulting media attention to claim cosmopolitan identities, while maintaining positioning as “authentic” indigenous women. These women gain social status and mobility, and present themselves as positive representatives of Bolivian women for a global audience. At the same time, they alert us to the ways that definitions of authenticity shift as cultural hybridity and exchange become more commonplace.
This event is sponsored by the Chardin Anthropological Society.