Sian Lazar’s goal in El Alto, Rebel City is to examine the tensions between collective and individual senses of self, citizenship, and political agency. Lazar argues that liberal (and ultimately also communitarian) perspectives of citizenship overemphasize individualism, failing to capture the collectivist traditions actualized in the practices of civil society’s organizations in Bolivia. Assuming that citizenship is as much a status as a practice, the author asserts that “national citizenship must articulate with local forms of belonging and citizenship” (p. 25). To observe those local practices, Lazar practiced ethnography in El Alto, formerly a “satellite city” of La Paz which has seen an expansion of population in the last decades as a result of economic changes and internal migration. Rather than painting a Manichean picture of how Western ideas of citizenship are imposed on non-Western subjects, the author examines how people combine individualized and collectivist senses of citizenship in their...

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