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Dr Sian Lazar

Dr Sian Lazar

Senior Lecturer

Director of Undergraduate Education and Chair of the Undergraduate Education Committee for the Division of Social Anthropology

Website and Open Access Coordinator for Division of Social Anthropology

Fellow, Clare College

Sian Lazar is accepting applications for PhD students.

Research Interests

Latin America (specifically Argentina and Bolivia); ethnography of the state, democracy and citizenship; social movements; gender; the city; and the anthropology of politics and development.

The focus of my research is collective politics in two quite different contexts: El Alto, an indigenous and mixed-ethnicity city in the Bolivian Andes, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. El Alto has become one of the most important centres of political radicalism in Bolivia. In 2003-5, street protests concentrated in El Alto forced two of Bolivia’s presidents to resign, and in December 2005 Bolivians elected their first indigenous president, Evo Morales.  I researched the processes and conflicts that lie behind this political power at the local level, considering in particular everyday practices and experiences of citizenship that structure the relationships between residents of El Alto and the Bolivian state. This resulted in a book: El Alto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia, published by Duke University Press ; an ethnography of citizenship that combines anthropological methods and theories with political philosophy.

In Buenos Aires, I am working with public sector trade unions.  My interest is in the relationship between individual workers, trade unions and the state, examining the implications of that relationship for people’s political subjectivities and agency – their citizenship.

Key Publications


2013: ‘El Alto, Ciudad Rebelde’. La Paz: Plural (spanish translation of El Alto, Rebel City).

2013: The Anthropology of Citizenship. A Reader , Sian Lazar (ed),
Boston and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
2008: El Alto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia,
 Durham, Duke University Press.

2003: with Maxine Molyneux Doing the Rights Thing: Latin American NGOs and Rights-based Development, ITDG Publishing.

Journal Special Issues

2013: Citizenship, the Self and Political Agency. Special Issue of Critique of Anthropology 33.1, edited with Monique Nuijten; introduction and article: ‘Citizenship, Political agency and technologies of the Self in Argentinean Trade Unions’.

2006: The Millions Return? Democracy in Bolivia at the Start of the 21st Century, Special Issue of Bulletin of Latin American Research Vol. 25 – April 2006, edited with John McNeish; Introduction and article: ‘El Alto, Ciudad Rebelde: Organisational Bases for Revolt’.

Articles and Book Chapters

2015: "Of autocracy and democracy, or discipline and anarchy: when organizational structure meets political ideology in Argentine public sector trade unions". Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR) 38.2: 279-299.

2015: ‘This is not a parade, it’s a protest march’. Intertextuality, citation, and political action on the streets of Bolivia and Argentina. American Anthropologist 117.2: 242-256.

2014: ‘Historical narrative, mundane political time and revolutionary moments: coexisting temporalities in Argentine and Bolivian social movements.’ In Special Issue of JRAI: ‘Doubt, Conflict, Mediation: The Anthropology of Modern Time’, edited by Laura Bear.

2014: ‘Citizenship’, in A Companion to Urban Anthropology, edited by Don Nonini, Boston and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwel.

2012: ‘Citizenship Quality: a new agenda for development?’. Journal of Civil Society, 8(4): 333-350.

2012: ‘Group belonging in trade unions: idioms of sociality in Bolivia and Argentina’, in eds. N Long and H Moore, Sociality. New Directions, Berghahn Press.

2012: ‘A desire to formalize work? Comparing trade union strategies in Bolivia and ArgentinaAnthropology of Work Review 33.1

2012: ‘Disjunctive comparison: Citizenship and Trade Unionism in Bolivia and ArgentinaJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18.2.

2010: ‘Schooling and Critical Citizenship: Pedagogies of Political Agency in El Alto, Bolivia’, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

2009: ‘Citizenship’ and ‘Latin American Anthropology’ in A. Barnard and J. Spencer Encyclopedic Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology, London, Routledge.

2008: ‘Eso es luchar sindicalmente. Ciudadanía, el estado y los sindicatos en El Alto, Bolivia’ number 27 of Cuadernos de Antropología Social, Journal of the Social Anthropology Section of the Instituto de Ciencias Antropológicas, Universidad de Buenos Aires.

2007: ‘In-betweenness at the Margins: Collective Organisation, Ethnicity and Political Agency among Bolivian Street Traders’, in James Staples (ed), Livelihoods at the Margins: Surviving the City, Left Coast Press.

2006: Co-editor (with John McNeish), ‘Special Issue: The Millions Return? Democracy in Bolivia at the Start of the 21st Century‘ , Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 25, April 2006; Introduction and article: ‘El Alto, Ciudad Rebelde: Organisational Bases for Revolt’ 

2006: ‘Movilización Social en El Alto’, in ed. Pilar Domingo: Democracia, Gobernabilidad y Participacion en Bolivia: 1993-2003, Universidad de Salamanca

2005:  ‘Citizens despite the state: everyday corruption and local politics in El Alto, Bolivia’, in D. Haller and C. Shore eds., Corruption: Anthropological Perspectives, London: Pluto Press, pp. 212-228

2004:  ‘Education for Credit. Development as Citizenship Project in Bolivia’, Critique of Anthropology 24 (3)

2004:  ‘Personalist Politics, Clientelism and Citizenship: Local Elections in El Alto, Bolivia‘, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 23 Issue 2 pp.228-243

2003: (Maxine Molyneux and Sian Lazar) Doing the Rights Thing: Latin American NGOs and Rights-based Development, ITDG Publishing

2002: The politics of the everyday: populism, gender and the media’ in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia‘, Goldsmiths, GARP 6