Eventually, we exchanged names and she told me hers was Huayra. “It’s in Aymara!” she told me with pride. This struck me as strange. Here was a 45 kilo, 19 year old Bolivian woman with wavy light brown hair. Her skin was almost as light as mine. Her features were decidedly not Aymara. And she lives in Zona Sur. I realize I am grossly stereotyping here, but she did not initially strike me as someone likely to have an Aymara name. I would have expected her to be called Jenny more readily than Huayra.
Of course, I thought, maybe this is just a case of my own naiveté, so I asked around yesterday. “Do many parents call their children by Aymara names?” The most interesting answer I got went something like this. “No, I don’t think so. But lots of parents give their children weird names. I have uncles called Pascual and Pastor. That’s like naming your kids Easter Sunday and Sheep-herder.” So, perhaps this is just a fluke, just a random thing I ran into. But I think perhaps, rather, it is an indicatinon of the valorization of a certain representation of “Aymara culture.” And more importantly, a valorization by people of a class that as a whole (though I’ll say nothing of Huayra’s parents, because I have no idea who or what they are) which perpetuates class/ethnic divisions in La Paz.
…now as soon as I get some sort of dvd playing machine in my possession I’ll watch Zona Sur and see how that figures in.