This article explores the intersection between documentary culture and social history through an analysis of legal archival theory and practice in rural Bolivia. The guiding theoretical premise is that legal archival research in rural Bolivia involves, to different degrees, both methodological and nonmethodological problems. The ethnohistorical researcher should identify,and distinguish between, the two in order to develop and pursue an effective project. Although fraught with uncertainties, ethnohistorical research projects involving rural legal archives can yield insights into local social history in ways not possible through other means.

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