Quispe's acknowledgment: The initial ideas presented in this work correspond to a chapter I wrote in “Cine y mestizaje. Emblemas y imaginaries de lo mestizo en el cine boliviano” (Cinema and mestizaje. Emblems and Imaginaries of the Mestizo in Bolivian Cinema), Collective Research Workshop (2005) at the Department of Sociology, Universidad Mayor de San Simón.

1. Translator’s note: a new film by Sanjinés, entitled Insurgentes, has been released this year (2012). Further notes, unless otherwise indicated, are the author’s. [return to page 1]

2. The “Indian problem” and the Andean telluric, earthly force inscribed in Ukamau (1966) inaugurate the process of indigenist interpretation. Blood of the Condor (1969) sees a clarification — perhaps a definition — of the filmmaker’s political posture, still imprecise in Ukamau, which will become radicalized in The Courage of the People (1971) with the idea of the “collective character” (framed in the massacres of miners). This overshadows the individual protagonist of the two previous films to become firmly established in The Principal Enemy (1973), Get Out of Here (1977) and The Flags of Dawn (1983), films which, each in their own way, go deeper into the indigenous problematic (see Mesa 1985: 79-102).

3. Translator’s note: the term “mestizo” applies to those considered of mixed (white-Indian) heritage, while “cholo” is used (often disparagingly) for the urban Indian at some point in the process of acculturation.

4. The same author considers that, in colonial social stratification, the mestizos and cholos (the latter being children of mestizos and Indians) constituted the “intermediate caste” between indigenous society and Spanish society. “In historical development, and as a result of little-analyzed processes such as nominal changes (and what they imply) in the social hierarchy of the ‘republican’ era, the term [mestizo], which in the 19th century still designated a sector of the population that was neither Creole nor western, comes to have a much broader content in our [20th] century.” (Barragán 1992: 23).

5. Translator’s note: see note 3 above — it should be remembered that such categorizations can depend as much on social and economic status as on biological conditions. In this context ‘creole’, which once indicated a person of Spanish descent but born in the Americas, is today a reference to the urban culture that is a legacy of this demographic sector.

6. From the early decades of the 20th century mestizaje, set out mainly in the literary production and essay-writing of that era, has been subject to the imaginary construction of the nation. These interpretations, which inaugurated the problematic of the national question in Bolivia, continued during later decades in varying shades. Thus, in the period following the Chaco War (1932-1935), the political class and the military constituted a mestizo-Creole sector whose re-thinking of the country was supported by a “mestizo imaginary” since national popular discourse turned into an attractive political ideology; these circumstances marked a convergent “social force of mestizaje.” The 1952 National Revolution, which buried the liberal oligarchy, similarly deepened the social force in such a way that “imagined mestizaje” turned into the cultural force in the construction of the “new nation.” In other words, the elite supporters of the ruling National Revolutionary Movement sought a national reconstruction that was based on a mestizo imaginary (see Sanjinés C 2005).

7. Translator’s note: these are further categorizations akin to those explained in note 3.

8. A precise element that configures the image of the “acculturated Indian” in the protagonist is the change of surname, which clearly manifests a rejection of his Andean identity. However, this false alteration becomes a motive of mockery in the mouths of two government functionaries. All the same, it is possible to identify two intentions in the change of surname: on the one hand the intention of “social climbing” is implicit and on the other, the intention of “survival” is visible, if perhaps more superficial.
[return to page 2]

9. Indeed, the similarity is noteworthy between the sense of death in Sanjinés and the Christian death of Jesus. The idea of sacrifice, both in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in this film, marks the possibility of a higher cause. Sebastián (in the Danzante) just like Jesus (on the cross) offers the immolation of his “human experience” for a “renewal.”

10. Translator’s note: here, ‘lettered’ refers to a dichotomy explored by Ángel Rama’s The Lettered City (1986); a colonial legacy of writing as power that traditionally excluded non-whites from both literacy and the urban environment.

Works cited

Bajo, Ricardo: (2003). "El tiempo circular de Jorge Sanjinés." <www.elojoquepiensa.com> (12.09.05).

Barragán, Rossana (1992). “Identidades indias y mestizas: una intervención al debate.” Autodeterminación, No. 10: 17-44, La Paz.

Ferrari, Sergio (2003). “Jorge Sanjinés: ‘El poder no quiere entender a esa otra Bolivia.’” El juguete rabioso. No. 78: p.5, La Paz.

Garcia Pabón, Leonardo (1998). “Indigenismo y sujetos nacionales en el cine de Jorge Sanjinés. A propósito de La nación clandestina.” La patria íntima. Alegorías nacionales en la literatura y el cine de Bolivia. La Paz, Plural.

Mesa, Carlos: La aventura del cine boliviano (1952-1985). La Paz, Gisbert y Cía.

Sanjinés, Jorge (1996): “Cine y sociedad.” El tonto del Pueblo, No 1: pp. 73-76, La Paz.

Sanjinés, Javier (1996): Cholos viscerales: desublimación y crítica del mestizaje. La Paz, ILDNIS.

Sanjinés, Javier (2005): El espejismo del mestizaje. IFEA/Embassy of France/PIEB.

Sanjinés, Javier and Francisco Calderón (1999): El gato que ladra. La Paz, Plural/CID.


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