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Back to the Future: Bartolina Sisa (d. 1782) and Living Indigenous Archives in Modern Day Bolivia
Tara Daly, Marquette University

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Bartolina Sisa Beyond the Script (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Bartolina Sisa Beyond the Script
Author: Tara Daly
Abstract: Bartolina Sisa, warmi: Indigenous Women Outside the Script Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui argues that words can cover up reality as much as represent it within a colonial setting. Cusicanqui herself, in writing about the 1781 La Paz rebellion led by Tupac Katari, does not mention his wife Bartolina Sisa or his sister, Gregoria Apaza, even though their contributions to the rebellion have been extensively documented (Valle de Siles, Thomson, Lewin). Both women fought alongside him and were hanged as a form of public spectacle, together, in what is today la Plaza Murillo, La Paz. In the official archival account of the events of 1781, we only know Sisa through the pen of others, and always via a translator, as she spoke Aymara. And yet, contemporary images, plays, films, songs, and stories proliferate about her. In Cusicanqui’s La sociología de la imagen (Tinta Limón 2015), she proposes a methodology that puts the body at the center of practices of seeing in order to challenge Cartesian ocularcentrism, delinking visualization from its ties to language. Putting this methodology into practice in an attempt to encounter Sisa, I begin with an 1888 map of the La Paz rebellions by Florentino Olivares, which I argue is a harbinger of the continued rebellion of indigenous peoples, rather than a representation of their defeat. Second, I look at the way that indigenous peoples’ ways of knowing through the landscape, as signaled in the play “La lanza capitana” (1962) by Raúl Botelho Gosálvez, casts doubt about the lettered class’s ability to orient themselves amongst their surroundings, regardless of maps. And third, I turn to the song “Bartolina Sisa, warmi” made famous by Luzmila Carpio (1949 - ), arguably the most prolific indigenous singer of the Andes. The Quechua lyrics and sounds to “Bartolina Sisa, warmi” come from songs her grandmother and mother sang to her, and whose origin is impossible to trace.
Date: 3/25/2023
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: The website for the conference where I gave this presentation.
Conference Name: Thinking Andean Studies

Bartolina Sisa as Montage: Images of Indigenous Insurgency in the Andes (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Bartolina Sisa as Montage: Images of Indigenous Insurgency in the Andes
Author: Tara Daly
Abstract: As my research on Bartolina Sisa has unfolded, I concern myself with approaching Sisa, like the comic Tupaj Katari does, as an active protagonist of the present. In the book project, titled Back to the Future: The Archival Afterlives of Bartolina Sisa, I work beyond the established archive to demonstrate that through 19th century paintings, 20th-century theatre, film and radio, and 21st-century film and performance art, Sisa and her cultural doubles come into view: in and beyond Bolivia. Each iteration of Sisa, and the indigenous and mestizo/a persons that animate her, speaks to the ways she defies reductionist classification and iconic fetishization as she moves across temporal and geographic scales. The difficulty of tracing Sisa from the archive, coupled with her persistent reproduction, challenges an approach to knowledge based on an original, the privileging of written text over oral traditions, and the notion that indigenous peoples are destined to disappear. That said, in project, I also want to avoid romantic generalizations that would see the reproduction of Sisa as uniformly “decolonial” or emancipatory. Instead, my research program is based on two broad questions (ONE) How do Andean indigenous peoples navigate modernity in contradictory ways that can inform global indigenous studies? (TWO) How do literature and the arts enable us to perceive these contradictions and learn from them?
Date: 3/5/23
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Keynote speaker page for U of Wisconsin conference
Conference Name: Kaleidescope Graduate Conference - UW Madison