House personhood in rural Andean Bolivia

  • Jonathan Alderman Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany


In the rural Bolivian Andes, personhood is defined by intersubjective reciprocal relationships between human and nonhuman beings. This paper examines the role of the house as a living being in itself and a conduit between its inhabitants and local place deities. In the rural Andes, houses (traditionally made from adobe but increasingly from brick) materially connect their inhabitants with a sacred landscape, and rituals performed at their construction create the house as a living being in its own right. This article, based on fieldwork with the Kallawayas, an indigenous nation in Northwest Bolivia, examines the Kallawaya relationship to the house in the context of Andean ethnography on housebuilding, observing the role of the house in communal ritual life. The house, for the Kallawayas, is argued to be an assemblage of energy with its inhabitants and the landscape, a fractal representative of the homologous structure of the rural Andean community, the ayllu.

How to Cite
Alderman, J. (2021) “House personhood in rural Andean Bolivia”, Anuac, 10(2), pp. 129-154. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-4550.
Thematic section: The anatomy of houses: Materialities of being at home