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Santa Clara University Archives :: Exhibits :: Urban Dreams / Suenos Urbanos :: Sunday Afternoon Reciprocity
University Archives - Urban Dreams / Suenos Urbanos - Migrant Residents of El Alto - Sunday Afternoon Reciprocity
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Sunday Afternoon Reciprocity
  Sunday Afternoon Reciprocity, 1996
Having returned from the 16 de julio market, it is Alvaro's turn to purchase some beer to share with his neighbors, who meet each week outside Francisco's home and discuss current events. Like Alvaro, each of his neighbors hails from a different community on the Altiplano, but they migrated to El Alto in search of a new life for themselves and their family. Francisco (in the fedora hat) drives a taxi in La Paz while Cruz (on the left) weaves sweaters for distribution throughout the region. Hugo and his wife Ines are Alvaro's in-laws, and are up visiting for the afternoon.

Only recently have these neighbors begun to meet socially, as their assumptions and prejudices about each other (based upon geographic and provincial stereotypes) provided distrust and hindered their interaction. Through mutual political affiliations they found common ground, and today they take some time to catch up and comment about happenings in the barrio and how local politics will affect their livelihood in the city. For these migrants, trying to create a home in El Alto is not easy, as social, political and economic forces make their daily struggle all the more difficult. As Alvaro once commented, "We do the best with what we have. Our house here is supposed to be our home, but instead we just live here."

  ©1996
Permission to reproduce any portion of the exhibit Urban Dreams/Suenos Urbanos is strictly prohibited.
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