Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri

Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri

Vannessa Pelaez-Barrios
Indiana University


In this essay, I analyze and explore the linguistic and poetic dimensions of language used by people I interviewed about a mythic narrative with controversial content. Because of the nature of these oral narratives, performers have to position themselves with care to avoid misunderstandings in their narratives. The purpose of this paper is to understand that moments of speech are significant elements in ordinary social encounters.


In Andean communities people tell stories and hold beliefs about a mythical figure, the Kharisiri, who is thought to extract fat and blood, leaving its victims sick and dying. This article explores the linguistic and poetic dimensions of language used by the people who perform this mythic narrative with such controversial content. To address the controversial features identified below, the performers have to position themselves with care in relation to both their audiences and to the elements of the Kharisiri 1myth. For example, they must assess their social relationship with their listeners to ascertain if there is sufficient confianza (trust) for the storytelling to happen at all. Then, they need to define their stance carefully with regard to the details of the story. Often, storytellers create the effect of distance between themselves and narrated events, placing the events in the past or downplaying personal involvement. However, once the conditions are ripe, performers often produce vivid accounts, bringing them to life for their audiences. My focus will be the conversational strategies used as “security devices” to protect performers (and their audiences) as well as the behaviors used to present the stories once the situation allows for them to be told.

I conducted several interviews with residents of the community of Corque in Oruro and Mizque in Cochabamba, Bolivia, about the Kharisiri. These taped interviews were then transcribed, translated, and scrutinized for evidence of the ways people ensure a situation that would allow for the telling of these tales. I have also isolated key episodes in these transcriptions during which the speakers excitedly dramatize and re-enact the myth.

The customary concept of ritual involves a scheduled event featuring proficient performer(s), an audience, and a particular space. The performer follows a deliberate sequence, and the audience frequently has specific expectations. Communication and social intercourse are present in these settings, where language has a specific function. Ordinary conversations bear similar characteristics; these are events where a message is transmitted with a specific goal.

In verbal folklore performances, methods of speaking become an object of interest. Folk etiquette constitutes an integral part of speech events, as people incorporate suggestive and expressive elements into their speech to address not only the hearer’s mind but also his imagination and feelings. Erving Goffman (1981) considers ritual part of the poetic dimensions of language and ritualization in discourse. As Goffman remarks, the process of ritualization includes those moments when unintentional looks and vocal sounds seem to acquire a specialized role in the stream of behavior and create a connection with current events. He also states that rituals can serve a bracketing function by marking a perceived change in the physical and social accessibility of the two individuals to each other, as well as beginning and endings. Any act performed during talk will carry ritual significance; some seem to be specialized for this purpose and these play a special role in the episoding of conversation.

Moments of speech are significant elements in ordinary social encounters. These moments, fully embedded with semantic coding, define degrees of meaning in communication. By invoking the concept of poetic rites of conversation, John McDowell (1985) indicates that ritual is also present in ordinary conversations. During the flow of speech, aspects of language play a ritualistic role in moments of juncture and transition, particularly in opening and closing gambits. Similarly, Richard Bauman (1984) presents a general list of communicative means as keys to performance: special codes, figurative language, parallelism, special paralinguistic features, special formulae, appeal to tradition, and disclaimers of performance. According to Bauman these devices are culturally conventionalized within a particular community.

Based on McDowell’s and Bauman’s notions about ritual and conversation, I investigated a number of conversational practices as recorded in my fieldwork about the Andean myth of the Kharisiri to explore the ritualistic forms of oral narrative performances.  In Kharisiri performances, speakers sometimes distance themselves from their narrative in anticipation of unwanted audience reactions; for instance, speakers might think that the audience will imagine that they are superstitious or ignorant.  I also explore “footing” (Goffman 1981) in speaking turns and how participants position themselves to manage controversial information. I turn to confianza, confidence or trust, as a relevant topic in the performance of this narrative, particularly as conversational encounters and context determine the degree of confianza between informants and the fieldworker.  However, in the case of the Kharisiri, some performances may be limited due to the situational context and audience. For example, a resident leader must limit the details of his narration while in his community; however, outside of it, he might provide more information.  Given the delicate balance of the performer’s need to protect himself and to perform the myth, it is important to know the details of this controversial story before identifying the methods used to tell it.

Context of the Narrative

Kharisiri2 narratives are very complex and subject to various interpretations. The Kharisiri3 is an Andean figure that exists in the solitude of the mountains. Natives believe that he attacks travelers who either fall asleep or are strategically put to sleep by him through the use of odors, bells, or the scattered powdered bones of the dead. He extracts their fat or blood, typically from the kidney area, for use as holy oil in black rituals or possibly for machine functions4. He uses a maquinita, a “little machine,” similar to a needle to extract these bodily fluids.5 When the victim wakes up, he feels too weak to walk, eat, or even talk. Suspicions of having been attacked by a Kharisiri are confirmed by pin pricks, scratches, or deep wounds on the victim’s body6. Ironically, the victim might be cured by drinking the blood of black animals, usually chickens, along with the performing of a ritual by a trustworthy Andean healer. In some cases, the victim dies, but beyond the simple tragedy in loss of life, broader consequences exist for the community.  Every member of an Andean family is important to the family’s subsistence; therefore, the death will dramatically affect the production and progress of the entire family.

Who are the Kharisiris? Based on some victims’ descriptions, before the attacks happen, victims describe seeing a person wearing a cassock, sometimes riding a horse. In the past, monks had to travel at night, and this image created a connection of Kharisiris to clergy. Current versions of the myth indicate that a Kharisiri is a person from the same community as the victim. Residents might be suspected of being Kharisiris, particularly if they change their social status abruptly by obtaining expensive items such as cars, by pursuing higher education, by exchanging their native clothing for a more western style, by refusing to speak their native language, or simply by not participating in communal activities. Therefore, the image of the Kharisiri varies from person to person, particularly among the clergy, doctors, politicians, and those who take on non-indigenous roles or behavior. This raises questions about “otherness” 7 and the notion of “indigenousness,” both of which are discussed in most of the scholarly work8 done on this topic. The background of the Kharisiri provides a wider context for the narrative and as a manner of introduction for performances about the myth. Fieldworkers who have done research on this narrative emphasize the social concerns of the narrative for residents and how those concerns affected their investigations9. Although considerable research has been devoted to interpretations of the Kharisiri as the “other” or a racialized outsider, as I mentioned before, less attention has been paid to the practice of the myth’s performance.  In my research, I invoke poetic aspects of language in conversation to explore how otherwise insignificant moments in everyday speech become key elements of social encounters that signify essential meanings.

Currently, speaking about the Kharisiri is rare, even in the regions where the myth originated, but people will do it after evaluating their audiences. The sensitive themes interwoven in this myth, such as respect for tradition, complicity, special knowledge, secrecy, and even silence, underline its significance in the lives of Andean people.  In terms of sociolinguistic analysis, Dell Hymes states that speaking is a form of cultural behavior, and language shapes this cultural whole: its expression of cultures is partial and selective. This selective aspect should be a focus, as it features the life of a community and makes a community distinctive (1974, 127). This argument raises certain questions: How do people talk about the myth among themselves versus with outsiders?  Are there stereotypical behaviors and strategies used in the performance and narration of the myth?

Performing the Narrative of the Kharisiri

In my experience, people generally avoid talking about the Kharisiri to non-indigenous persons. However, when they share their accounts or “personalized versions of the myth” (McDowell, 1994), they apply some common linguistic patterns in their performances. Tellers strategically position themselves in the performance while inviting their audience to be involved.

My research was centered in two communities in Bolivia: the Quechua town of Mizque in the Department of Cochabamba and the Aymara community of Corque in the Department of Oruro.  Mizque, historically important for sending deputies to the Congress of Tucumán, Argentina, which declared the independence of Argentina (1816) and Bolivia (1825), is now a town with 26,000 inhabitants (Institute of National Statistics 2001). In contrast, Corque is a small, semi-arid, military-based town 93 miles from the Department of Oruro. It is over 12,400 feet above sea level with a population of more than 8,500.

I went to Mizque to interview the town priest; I had heard from a resident I met in Cochabamba that this priest was thought to be a Kharisiri. Unfortunately, the priest was out of town, and I had to spend the night in Mizque to take the bus back to Cochabamba the next day. Meanwhile I met Don Roberto10, the owner of a small grocery store by the town square.  He is over 50 years old, was born and raised in Mizque, where he also raised his children. Because he is a lifelong resident, he knows most of the people in Mizque and those who used to live there. Don Roberto was sitting outside of his store when I first approached him. Since he did not recognize or know me, he asked me the reason for my visit, and we started talking. He shared with me a near encounter he had with the Kharisiri when he was young.

Because of Don Roberto’s use of certain dynamic colloquial expressions in his narrative, I have included the complete transcription of our conversations in Spanish and translated into English.



Sr. Roberto:

[…]11ves que antiguamente éramos
aficionados al fútbol para entonces,

y había pues un encuentro entre
Cochabamba y La Paz.

Y por ver eso, tarde nos hemos venido
pues de la estancia, en la noche ya.

Y detrás del cerro estuvimos a las
ocho de la noche por ahí, nos pusimos
un poco de (    )

y venían pues, los dos mocosos pues,
hemos pedido que se (    )

y tenía mi mamita por ahí un
compadre y el burro que teníamos,
por ese camino se ha ido ps12.

Yo detrás de él me ido ps.


Sr. Roberto:

[…]At that time we used to play

and there was a game between
Cochabamba and La Paz.

Because of that, it was already night
time when we left the ranch.

By eight we ended up behind the
hill, we put a little bit of ( )

and they were coming, the two little
brats, and asked that ( )

and my mom had a friend there,
and the donkey that we had
walked off.

So, I went to look for it.

Vannessa: ¿Persiguiendo al burro? Vannessa: To chase the donkey?



Sr. Roberto:

Sí pues, para hacer dar la vuelta.

Y me vengo, desde ese momento que
he venido, qué me ha hecho. ¡Qué me
ha hecho, qué me ha hecho, pero!,

es decir que no he tenido ni un
poquito de valor para caminar.

Algo me ha pasado,

estoy hablando bien pero no tenía
ningún valor pues para caminar,

apenas he llegado hasta ahí, hasta mi
amigo en ahí (…) “mira hermano, no
puedo,” he dicho.

“¡Pucha! Kharisiri tal vez,” diciendo,

y el perro por aquí por allá, por aquí
por allá, por aquí por allá, ladrando,
ladrando, así me ha pasado.

Y antiguamente había pues esas cosas




Sr. Roberto:

Yes, to bring it back.

So, I came back, and from that
moment, I do not know what
happened to me! What happened to

But I can say I had absolutely no
strength to walk.

Something happened to me.

I could speak just fine, but I had no
strength to walk.

As soon as I got there, to my friend
and there (…) “Look, brother, I
can’t do it,” I said.

“Crap! Maybe it’s Kharisiri.”

The dog was running here and
there, here and there, here and
there, barking, barking, and
so it happened.

In the past, these kinds of things

Vannessa: Ah, ¿si? 35 Vannessa: Oh?
35 Sr. Roberto: Eso ha sido,
pero no me ha hecho nada.
Sr. Roberto: So it has been,
but he did not do anything to me.
Vannessa: No le ha hecho nada ¡más bien!// Vannessa: Oh, he didn’t! Good! //
Sr. Roberto: //No por, ¿¡si no hubiera sido mi
compañero y mi perro!?

Sr. Roberto: //I don’t know what would have
happened if my friend and dog
hadn’t been there!
40 Vannessa: Claro, le hubiera atacado// Vannessa: He would have attacked you, for
Sr. Roberto: //Claro, me hubiera atacado.

Sr. Roberto: //For sure, he would have attacked

Pero y que cree,

con qué le ha (…) con qué cree que//


So, what do you think,

what did he use to (…) how do you
think he//

Sr. Roberto:

//No, tienen pues alguna cosa pues,

porque antiguamente todo pues
macanas, llevaban, y nos soplaban

Sr. Roberto:

//No, they have something,

because in the past they used to,
they would take any old thing, and
they blew on us.

Vannessa: Ahh// Vannessa: Ahhh//
Sr. Roberto //Como soplo nomás nos hacen pues. 55 Sr. Roberto: //Just like blowing, just that they
did to us.
50 Vannessa: Pero son personas así nomás normales
o //
Vannessa: But, are they ordinary people or //
Sr. Roberto

//Normal como (…)

¡como ustedes!

Sr. Roberto:

//They are ordinary people like (…)

like you all!

Vannessa: Ah,  ¿si? Vannessa: Oh?
55 Sr. Roberto:

Normal son (…) hay “Kharisiri Kayqa
Kharisiri,”13decían antiguamente,

claro que nosotros no sabíamos pues.

60 Sr. Roberto:

They are ordinary people (…)
“Kharisiri Kayqa Kharisiri,”14they
used to say in the old days, right?

Of course, we did not understand

Vannessa: Mmm, porque algunos dicen pues que
no sienten y se duermen, ¿no?
65 Vannessa: Mmm, it is also said that people do
not feel anything and then go to
sleep, right?

Sr. Roberto:

Claro pues, por ejemplo en ahí, si
hubiera sido solito en lo que hubiera

me hubiera dormido y tranquilamente
me hubiera hecho pues

Sr. Roberto:

Of course, for example if in my
case, if I had been alone and he
would have come,

I would have been put to sleep and
he could easily have done anything
he wanted to me.

Vannessa: Y ha escuchado de otras personas

Vannessa: And, have you heard of other
people who//
Sr. Roberto //Ah, mucho he escuchado, mucho
Sr. Roberto: //Ah, a lot I have heard, a lot (…)
70 Vannessa: (…) Gente que les ha pasado. Vannessa: (…) People who experienced that.
Sr. Roberto: Siempre, algunos les ha pasado pues
Sr. Roberto: Always, some people have had
things happen (…)
Vannessa: Ah,  ¿por aquí en Mizque o en otros
80 Vannessa: Ah, here in Mizque or other places?
75 Sr. Roberto: En otros lugares (…) (interrupción) Sr. Roberto: At other places(…) (interruption)

Así pues,

antiguamente había pues, harto había,
ahora ya no, se ha perdido.

So, that’s it,

in the past there used to be these
things, not anymore, it’s gone.

To elaborate on the value of Don Roberto’s storytelling style, I will focus on the strategic use of the word “antiguamente” as a form of transition. Don Roberto introduces his narrative by identifying himself and his friend as soccer players. He describes both his friend and himself as two little “mocosos” [brats] who were innocent and unaware of danger. Then, as an opening or special formulae (Bauman 1984), he uses “antiguamente”: “antiguamente éramos aficionados al fútbol” [at that time we used to play soccer]. The meaning of “antiguamente” in this particular phrase is “at that time” or “in the past” because Don Roberto was an active football player and a little child at that time but not at this time. Additionally, by following with the verb “éramos” [were/used to be], this formula positions Don Roberto and his friend as primary actors in this part of the narrative.  The same formula is used in line 77 (83 in English version) as a closing strategy.  In line 33, he says “Y antiguamente había pues esas cosas” [in the old days there used to be these kinds of things]; the implicit meaning might be, “This is the end of the story.” Don Roberto releases the floor in the conversation (Goffman 1981) by repositioning himself as a passive narrator. He emphasizes that these encounters no longer happen. This shift also gives him authority in the narrative because he decides that the story is over and offers no opportunity to ask more questions.

In any situation when narrating past events, the storyteller decides the self he wants to represent. He might altercast15figures in the story by positioning himself in various statuses in the telling (Goffman, 1981: 151). Don Roberto, when moving from a figure or character in his story to narrator, handles this change with care. For instance, when the word “antiguamente” appears again in line 44 (49 in English version), it is used as a point of transition within the flow of discourse, which, in my view, implies the notion of what McDowell calls “ritual danger.”

Sr. Roberto://No, tienen [los Kharisiris] pues alguna cosa pues, por que antiguamente todo pues macanas, llevaban, y nos soplaban pues.

Sr. Roberto://No, they [Kharisiris] have something, because in the past they used to, they would take foolish things, and they blew on us.

McDowell argues, “The poetic rites of conversation serve important ritual and rhetorical functions in social intercourse.…They may appear as an indicator of the speaker’s real or feigned emotional response to the topic at hand, or at any moment as a rhetorical tactic designed to persuade and influence the listener” (1985: 115). Immediately following Don Roberto’s statement that Kharisiris have material means to attack people, he remarks that it was “antiguamente” [in the past] and not currently that such things happened. Considering that the nature of this myth states that Kharisiris can take action against accusers, he must protect his integrity and is compelled to remind his audience that he refers to past events. This set of semantic moves is carried out with great caution; for this reason, they are not perceived at first glance.   Further, the turn at talk demonstrates the presence of ritual dangers well.

In line 55 (60 in English version) of Don Roberto’s narrative, another key theme appears: appeal to tradition (Bauman 1984).

Sr. Roberto:Normal son (…) hay “Kharisiri Kaqay Kharisiri”, decían [los ancianos] antiguamente, ¿no?, claro que nosotros no sabíamos pues.

Sr. Roberto:They are ordinary people (…) “Kharisiri Kayqa Kharisiri”, they [elders] used to say in the old days, right? Of course, we did not understand then.

This key moment demonstrates the form in which this mythic narrative is transmitted. Accountability in passing on knowledge forces the performer to evaluate his own competence. Therefore, appeal to tradition serves as a standard of reference and declares acceptance of past practices (Bauman, 1984). In Roberto’s moment of performance, “antiguamente” carries the significant meaning of “bygone days” and strengthens his narrative by invoking his ancestry. He even dramatizes this moment by speaking in the Inka language, Quechua, to connect his audience with ancestral times. It should be noted that this is the only moment when Don Roberto used Quechua, even though he is a native speaker.  His use of Quechua indicates a conscious but subtle strategy to engage the listener, adding to the conspiratorial nature of the myth and its telling by drawing the listener into a “secret” language.

Throughout his discourse, he implies that he does not want to identify himself as a believer of this myth. His derogatory tone of voice in line 44 (49 in English version), when saying “antiguamente,” gives the impression that only people from that time believed in this myth and people today do not. There is also a moment of denial from the performer. This denial occurs when Don Roberto states that he and his friend did not always know about the Kharisiri, but they learned about it through oral transmission. By a way of transition, he also uses “decían” [people used to say] to demonstrate distance in his narrative. This move suggests his awareness that many people, especially outsiders to the community, think that belief in these tales is a sign of superstition, ignorance, and provinciality.  He strategically reinforces his place in his society, combating the audience’s possible interpretation in his choice to share the myth as an indication of his ignorance.

Moments of danger create these parallel actions and ritualistic sets of moves. While in line 44 (49 in English version) Don Roberto offers information, he avoids some details.  For instance, he does not explain what was blown, possibly because he assumed that I already knew the elements of this myth. This statement demonstrates a certain level of confianza between Don Roberto and me. I have mentioned that this topic is taboo, and it is discussed only after a performer evaluates his audience. When we started our conversation, Don Roberto asked me the reason for my trip and my concern with this topic. He also asked me about my origins and if I had relatives in town.  Even though we had a comfortable conversation, the limited degree of confianza between us did not allow him to share certain details of the myth.  In this situation, missing information increases the risk of a story being shaped by one’s own cultural background, and it is possible that this shifting view prompted the current picture of the Kharisiri as an evil figure or demon. Although I have a greater understanding of the background of the narrative than most, a less knowledgeable audience may struggle to infer the missing information, such as the devices by which the Kharisiri attacks, what kind of people are suspected of being Kharisiris, and where in Mizque people still talk about this myth. However, the omission of such details—intentional or otherwise—forces the reader to acknowledge the innermost ideas of the story by interpreting the speaker’s conversational clues.

In a conversation with a resident of Corque, this moment of transition is clearly stated. Don Casiano, a llama herder I met casually in the town square, told me how his wife was attacked by a Kharisiri; he explained the suffering they both endured and how his wife survived.




Don Casiano:

No, no es, qué hará, no sé,
fantasma no, no es fantasma
también, gente es pues,

pero, de noche, hacen viento
camina dice pues,

de noche a la casa entrando,

este, nuestro alma dice agarra
dice no.

Cuando dormimos ¿no ve?,
momias, como muertos estamos
botados ¿no ve?

Igualitos nos hace.

De eso, a su querer hurga dice,

hasta violar nos puede violar, nos
puede violar, muerto nos deja.

Ya, ps ya, se habrá ido alma,
¡qué será pues!, como muerto
nosotros a su querer estará

Así dicen, medio peligroso
parece que es.




Don Casiano:

No, it is not, what he would done, I don’t know, not a ghost, it is not a
ghost, it is people for sure,

during night, when there is wind
they walk, it is said,

during night when he enters the

he takes our soul, it is said.

When we sleep, right? We are
sleeping like mummies, right?

Then, he can do what he wants to

even to rape, he can even rape us,
he can rape us, then he leaves us
like death.

Uh, our soul will be gone by then,
What will this be! We may be like
death and he might be handles us
as he wants.

People say, it seems that it is

Vannessa: […] Peligroso ¿no? Vannessa: […] It is dangerous then, right?


Don Casiano:

Aunque me aseguro siempre,

El otro entra nomás, sabe entrar,
visita entra, tenemos que estar
mirando como es, estar (   )

y bueno, nos visita, “permiso”
diciendo, yo me charlo y así,

estará chequeando pues como
puede entrar diciendo (…)

así dice que hace.


Don Casiano:

Although I was always watching,
he came in.

He knows how to enter, saying that
he is visiting. We have to be on the
lookout for him ( )

so, he visits us. “Excuse me, can I
come in,” he says. Well, I talk to

So, he may be watching how to
enter (…)

that’s how he does it.


Vannessa: Ah, entonces es una persona
siempre, que conoce usted pues
tal vez, si entra a su casa, ¿no?

Vannessa: So, then, it is always a person you know, if he comes to your house,
Don Casiano: Ya hemos conocido por aquí. Don Casiano: We already caught someone here.
Vannessa: ¿A quién han conocido? Vannessa: Who did you catch?
Don Casiano: Ah, un profesor es. Don Casiano: Uh, a school teacher.

Vannessa: ¿Ah, un Profesor? ¿Y qué ha
pasado con el profesor?
40 Vannessa: Oh, a school teacher? And what
happened to him?
Don Casiano: De aquí lo han botado, al campo
lo han botado. Le habían pillado.
Don Casiano: People threw him out of here, to the fields. People caught him.
Vannessa: Ah, ¿si? Vannessa: Oh?

Don Casiano:

En huellas, ahí le habían pillado.

Hay una señora… que te puede
contar esa señora, yo no sé.

45 Don Casiano:

His footprint, that’s how they
caught him.

There is a woman, this woman can
tell you, I don’t know.

Vannessa: Ah, ¿si? (…) ¿Cómo se llama esa
señora pues?

Vannessa: Oh? (…) What is this woman’s


Don Casiano:

Cárcel estaba por entrar al cárcel,
de ahí habrá pagado pues.

La habían llevado a Oruro.

En Oruro ya le habrán hecho en

“Así me ha hecho,” dice.
Personalmente te puede contar

Don Casiano:

He almost went to prison, and he
would have paid.

They took him to Oruro.

In Oruro they could have
electrocuted him.

“They did like that to me,” [he/she]
said. [she] can tell you herself right

Vannessa: Ya. Vannessa: Ok.


Don Casiano:

Y cuando hacemos, así decimos
“Así nos ha hecho,” cuando nos
enfrentamos ¿no ve?, dice que
nos hace venganza ps, venganza,

ni cómo hacer caer preso dice

así tienes que tratar dice pues, te
libras y ya tienes.


Don Casiano:

And when we say, “He had done
like that,” when we confront him,
right?, he said that he would have
revenge, revenge,

so no one even tried to put [him] in

[we] had to deal with it like that,
[he] gets free and then you are


Entonces peligroso, ¿no?

¿Y le han hecho recién a alguien?


So, he is dangerous, right?

And somebody was attacked

Don Casiano: Sí, ah, no hace días no está
pasando eso.
Don Casiano: Yes, uh, it doesn’t really happen
these days.
70 Vannessa: Ah, de ahí no se ha escuchado

Vannessa: Oh, so people don’t hear that much
about it then.



Don Casiano:

Ya no se ha escuchado más,

ese es el proceso, por eso mi
señora se ha aparecido en la
cama nomás, como inyección
como sacado aguja así,
chorreando sangre, como se

“En mi sueño estoy, perro me
está mordiendo, me ha mordido
perro,” diciendo,

“La gente me está mirando,” no
puede, como se dice ps,

“Haciendo en mi sueño, me estoy
moviendo así.”


Don Casiano:

People don’t hear much,

that is the process, that is why
when my wife was in bed, there
was like a injection like a needle
mark, gushing blood, how it had
been done.

“I was dreaming, a dog was biting
me, a dog bit me,” she said,

“People were looking at me,” she
can’t, she said,

“In my dreams, I was moving like

In the beginning of Don Casiano’s account, he says that even when people stayed vigilant, the Kharisiri could still attack them. This scene creates tension. The listener becomes emotionally engaged with his narrative through the process of imagery. Deborah Tannen argues that the activation of individual imagination is what makes it possible to understand another person’s speech, situating the involvement of both speaker and listener. Involvement is understood as an “internal, even emotional connection individuals feel which binds them to other people as well as to places, things, activities, ideas, memories, and words. … Listening, in this view, is an active not passive enterprise, requiring interpretation comparable to that required in speaking, and speaking entails simultaneously projecting the act of listening” (Tannen 1989: 12). Involvement strategies are pervasive, spontaneous, and functional ways of shaping used by the speaker (1989: 2, 28)16. The successful use of involvement-marking strategies is significantly linked to the persuasive power of talk in many different contexts of social life, and Don Casiano utilizes this involvement to bring the listener further into his narrative.

Don Casiano, the witness narrating the perspective of the victim (his wife), explained to me how the Kharisiri operate and how the people know it from their experience. In line 33 (34 in English version), when I asked him if the Kharisiri might be a person they knew, he immediately changed the subject to someone else’s story. It is likely that people prefer to withhold specific details about their own experiences. This emotional response leads Don Casiano to alter the natural sequence of his narrative. Similar to Sr. Roberto, Don Casiano shifts his status within his narration, and in line 44 (45 in English version) he stops giving details altogether, leaving some information to interpretation. In the same line, the fluency of the narrated events is interrupted by the sharp response, “Hay una se señora… que te puede contar esa señora, yo no sé” [There is a woman. This woman can tell you, I don’t know]. By avoiding more details in this narrative and using the closing gambit, “I don’t know,” Don Casiano’s narrative may be attempting to address and avoid “ritual danger.” We see in his words a perception of real as well as ritual danger.  In addition to the ritual danger of exposing or compromising people’s self-presentations, there is also a real danger in the possibility of inviting an attack from the Kharisiri.  Thus, Don Casiano may be seeking to avoid insulting the Kharisiri and thus calling him to attack either himself or his family.

Much as conversation can be either revealing or secretive, McDowell explains that it can also be either constructive or destructive. The particular moment when Don Roberto specifically avoids giving more details prompts the other participant to recover the flow of discourse. In this situation, where matters of social convenience govern the narrative, the solution has to meet mutual conformity. Goffman connects this behavior to what he calls ritual constraints: “how each individual should handle himself so as not to discredit his own or another’s tacit claims to good character” (1981: 16). It is also possible that Don Casiano wanted to claim another person’s account to reinforce his own, making the omissions more of a necessity than a choice but also continuing to involve the listener.

Repetition in this account further serves as a connector, functioning as a poetic device to create emotional involvement. The teller emphasizes the semantically strong words: rape in line 14 (13 in English version) and revenge in line 60 (62 in English version), repeating them two and three times; in the process he expresses his attitude and concern about the narrative and also strengthens his assertions. He also makes the listener aware of the delicacy of the information being presented. In lines 1-21 and 58-65 (60-68 in English version) of the narrative, Don Casiano uses the plural pronoun “nosotros” [we], indicating that he speaks in the name of his community and their beliefs. However, by also using “dice” [it is said], he repositions himself in a safer space and limits his participation in the account.  Some details of the narrative are left unsaid, encouraging the listener to imagine the scene. Intensifiers and modals are linguistic strategies that convey that the statement in which they occur is endorsed by the speaker. By incorporating such intensifiers and modals as “yo no sé” [I don’t know] , Don Casiano succeeds in painting a clear picture of the Kharisiri as a dangerous person capable of seeking revenge.

Expressing feelings might be marked by altercasting personal pronouns and shifting from saying something from a personal perspective to reporting someone else’s speech. Indeed, in Don Casiano’s telling, these moments are present, and, they occasionally lead to some confusion in identifying the addressee or the person being discussed. For instance, in line 36 (37 in English version) the narrator starts telling his account of a well known event that happened in his community; a teacher was exiled after being judged as being a Kharisiri who had attacked a woman. Don Casiano then explains what he thinks might have happened. In line 54 (56 in English version), he dramatizes a scene by saying, “Así me ha hecho,” dice [“he/she did like that to me,” he/she said]. Which of the two victims in this narrative is Don Casiano trying to address, the teacher or the woman attacked by the teacher?

Ritualistic behaviors such as dramatizing remarks influence the performance, which contains many dramatized moments.  These moments become elements of transition with double purpose; they convey the flow of the narrative and engage the audience in the sense that the listener pays more attention when hearing the exact words uttered during the events being recounted.  For example, Sr. Terán, who lives in Cochabamba with his mother, is a 50-year-old builder who occasionally takes jobs at far away communities, spending days or even weeks away, recounted his own experience:






Sr. Terán:

Yo estaba en Quillacollo ps, con mis primos fuimos para San Juan también ps, (…) a juntar sunchu17, para quemar, esos sunchos harto traemos ps para Calvario de la Virgen de Unkupiña de a ese lado

Harto había ps, de ahí nos traiabamos (traíamos) (…).

Y, con dos hermanos he ido ps y

de ahí nos estuvimos viniendo con carga (…), yo (…), pesado también me he cargado (…),

atrás, atrás estuve viniendo ps,

me he descansado un poquito, me
he fijado (…), caballo venia pues

“¡puta! apúrate!” me dice mi
hermana ps

“!Kharisiri está viniendo, Kharisiri está viniendo!”, ahí también pero
no le he (…),

“Qué Kharisiri, cura es pues, el padre debe estar viniendo” le he dicho, (…)

pero no ps que va a ser padre ya ps (…)

claro yo, medio debilucho ya
estuve yo ps (…)

de lejos hace dormir dice.




Sr. Terán:

I was in Quillacollo, and my cousins and I went to San Juan (…) to collect sunchu18to burn. We used to bring a lot sunchus to the Calvario de la Virgen de Urkupiña on the other side.

We would bring it from there (…).

And, I went there with two of my siblings (…),

and we left carrying the stuff. I was carrying a heavy load (…),

so I stayed behind the group,

and I decided to rest a little (…). I realized there was a horse coming (…).

“Shit! Hurry up!” my sister told me.

“Kharisiri is coming, Kharisiri is coming!”  (…) But I did not get it, so,

just a priest, he was a priest! (…) “It is not a Kharisiri, it is a priest, the priest must be coming,” I said (…),

but it was not a priest.

By then I was feeling weak (…),

he puts you to sleep at a distance, it is said.

When Sr. Terán raises his voice to proclaim, “¡Kharisiri está viniendo, Kharisiri está viniendo!”  [Kharisiri is coming, Kharisiri is coming!], he brings this moment to life and places the audience, virtually, in the presence of the Kharisiri. Quoted speech has power to transport the listener into the middle of the scene. It moves the story from a recounting to a re-enactment, dramatizing the narrated events.

Another example that deserves special attention is Sra. Margarita’s account. She is a single mother who lives in Corque, referred to me by Don Casiano. She issued a formal accusation against a school teacher she believed to be a Kharisiri; the school teacher was later expelled from the community.  In order to meet with Sra. Margarita, I visited Corque with my sister-in-law, Luisa, and her children. We were staying at her aunt’s house, Doña Julia, a retired nurse who worked in Corque all her life. Even though Doña Julia did not live in Corque anymore, she was known to the residents. When we met with Sra. Margarita, she asked me where we were staying. Corque only has one small hostel, and the fact that we stayed in someone’s house implied a relationship with the person who hosted me. Even though I was not part of the community, this detail positioned us in a more confident context for the narrative.  In addition to the act of performing the narrative itself, the situation of the telling also requires certain conversational aspects to be fulfilled, such as the establishment of confidence in the listener.

For this interview, I met Sra. Margarita in her house. We talked on her patio, and while my young niece played with another child, she recounted her experience. Unlike other accounts, Sra. Margarita’s applies some linguistic strategies to engage the listener. For instance, in the following exchange, she seems hesitant to reveal some details:

Sra. Margarita

Sigue, más harto es desde ahora.

Por eso, yo trancado siempre con piedra diciendo, entra nomás dice.

Hay bastante ahora dice, hasta las chicas, jovencita hay dice,

antes no había mas dice, ahora más está, ¿Quién será no?


Sra. Margarita

It [the Kharisiri] still continues, it
is heard of even more than before now.

That is why I bar my door with a stone, they say he enters that way.

There are more nowadays, it is
said, even among the young girls, the youngest girls,

in the past, we did not hear like that, it is said, today there are more. Who can it be?

Vannessa ¿Jovencitas también? Vannessa Young girls, too?

Sra. Margarita

Sí, jóvenes hay dice, estudiantes jóvenes, sí, normales, universidad, eso serán pues.

Habrán enseñado, qué será ¿no ve?

Sra. Margarita

Yes, young people, it is said, students, college students, university students, they could have been.

They might have been taught, what it could be, you know?

Luisa Seguro pues, aprender también ¿no ve?

Luisa True, they might learn too, right?
15 Vannessa

Mm, ya, entonces tiene curación,

pero hay que hacerse curar a tiempo también.

20 Vannessa

Uhm, so, it has a cure,

but it has to be cured in time too.

Sra. Margarita

A tiempo, rápido pues, ya no.

Así nomás ya pues, ya no harta gente con eso nomás ya está muriendo.

Sra. Margarita

On time, quickly.

There are a lot of people dying because of that.

Luisa Dice que hay que comer
cordero negro estaban
25 Luisa It is said that black lamb has to be eaten, they were saying?
Sra. Margarita Sí, dice que sí, ¿no? Sra. Margarita Yes, people say that, right?
Vannessa Sangre ¿no? ¿Comen? Vannessa Blood, too, right? Is that eaten?
Sra. Margarita Sí, sí, eso es dice, ese negro.

Sra. Margarita Yes, yes, people say that.  The

At the beginning, after she describes that she is more cautious than before and that she thinks that young people are now learning the Kharisiri’s strategies, she asks in line 7 (11  in English version), “¿Quién será no?” [Who can it be?]. This question positions her as naïve in this matter while at the same time conscientiously presenting information. Following the common pattern of questions and answers, the listener does not have the chance to ask who she thinks is the Kharisiri. Sra. Margarita then leaves the floor open, even offering the possibility of the listener continuing with the narrative, adding details or reporting what she may have heard. This move, handled with care by Sra. Margarita, creates a moment of confusion in identifying the performer and who will continue the performance. The same effect was caused in lines 15-28 (20-35  in English version) by using the same ritualistic move, after Luisa asks for verification of what she had heard about the way victims are cured, saying, “Dice que hay que comer cordero negro estaban diciendo” [It is said black lamb has to be eaten, they were saying?]. Sra. Margarita’s answer does not follow the line, and thus does not give a definite affirmation. By closing saying, “Sí, dice que sí, ¿no?” [Yes, people say that, right?], she gives the impression that she is not sure about those details. As the discourse follows, the informant becomes a receiver and the listener becomes an emitter who could give more information than the informant, indicating the presence of altercasting.

Altercasting in this narrative is perceived by changing the addresses. An interesting venue comes into play when the narrator uses the voice of others.  Sra. Margarita demonstrates altercasting when she turns from emitter to receiver.

Sra. Margarita

Sí, hay dice, se encuentran,

“¿Cómo estás? ¿Estás bien
nomás?” “Sí,” dicen. “Yo soy tu
familiar, de otro diciendo,” así
como visita dice.

Sra. Margarita

Yes, he introduces himself,

he says “How are you? Are you
doing well?” “Yes,” people say.
“I am your relative, a distant
relative,” he says as he visits. 

Vannessa ¿Con mentiras trae?  Vannessa So, he comes with lies?

Sra. Margarita

Sí ps, yo aquí mismo nomás me he
dado cuenta por eso, he por eso
ha venido pues, de eso yo he
demandado después de ahí ps.

No me he dado cuenta por eso,
que me habría pasado, no me he
dado ps ese caballero.

Sra. Margarita

Yes, I realized it while being
here, for that reason I sued him
after knowing.

If I had not realized that, what
might have happened to me, I
don’t know what that man
might have done to me. 

Vannessa ¿Ha demandado al este siempre? Vannessa Did you sue him?

Sra. Margarita Sí, al corregidor siempre, ese
siempre había sido Kharisiri ps, y
no sabíamos.
50 Sra. Margarita Yes, to the authorities, he was a
Kharisiri but we did not know
Vannessa ¿Él le ha hecho a usted? Vannessa He did that to you?



Sra. Margarita

Sí, ahora puede decir. Hasta ahora
cuando este, ya ps, cada rato yo
agarro ps. “Por tu culpa estoy así
yo enferma ¡Kharisiri!, con mi
sangre estás comprando.”

Moto tenía antes pues, “Moto con
mi, con mi sangre estas
comprando,” diciendo, le ps yo
cuando cruce en las calles.

Ahora casi uno, dos años ya no,
no he visto ese gente, está
viviendo dice ese profesor, porque
no botará del pueblo.

Demanda, hemos entrado ps. De
juicio, no se ps eso, no sabe de
juicio ps eso.




Sra. Margarita

Yes, now I can say. Every time
I see him I say, “It’s your fault
I’m sick, Kharisiri! You are
shopping with my blood,”

he had a motorcycle by then,
“Motorcycle, you are buying a
motorcycle with my blood,” I
say to him when he drives down
the street.

He hasn’t been around in one or
two years, it is said that he lives
in town because he hasn’t been
thrown out.

We sue him, I do not know
about judgments, I do not know
about that.

[…] […]
Sra. Margarita Debes conocer a ese caballero, ¿no?  Sra. Margarita You must know this man, right?
65 Luisa Mendoza Sí, de nombre le conozco,  mi tía le conoce también.  Luisa Mendoza Yes, I know his name, my aunt knows him too.

Sra. Margarita Sí, debes conoces, ¿no? Debes
conocer ese ¿no ve? Sigue está,
¿no ve? Viviendo ¿no ve?, ahora,
sus hijos, sus, estes, yernas,
yernos, así debe de estar ¿no ve?,
enseñado está ps así.


Sra. Margarita Uh, you must know him, right?
You must know that, isn’t? He’s
still around, right, living in
town, right? Now, people’s
children, daughters-in-law,
sons-in-law, they’re learning,
yeah? He must be teaching
[…] […]
Vannessa Usted solita se ha curado?  Vannessa Did you treat yourself?



Sra. Margarita

No, gente, si cuatro caballeros me
han curado, pero yo no me he
dado cuenta pues.

Mi mamá, mis hijas mis hijos me
han (   ) pues. De aquí también
mis heridas, puro verde sabían

“¡Cómo habrá andado ésta!”
diciendo la gente, “¡fuertes
serás!” me ha dicho.

Y la gente, mmm ese rato puede
morir dice. “¡Cómo habrás
andado!” Me ha dicho también. ( )

Qué será ps, me ha curado. ¿Qué
será, no?



Sra. Margarita

No, people—yes, four men
helped me, but I didn’t realize

My mom, my sisters, my
children, they (   ) I also had
bruises, they were green.

“How did you bear that!”
people said to me. “You must
be strong!” they told me.

And the people, mmm, they
said they would have died if
they were me. “How did you
bear that?!” They told me (   )

I don’t know, I was healed.  I

Vannessa ¿Le han pinchado en hartos lados? Vannessa Did they prick you in many parts?

Sra. Margarita

Si, hartos lados pues, los dos
rodillas, y este también,

“¿Cómo habrás aguantado?” este,
me han dicho también. Por eso
ahora no alzo pesado, mirando
gente nomás estoy.


Sra. Margarita

Yes, in many parts of my body,
my two knees,

and “How did you bear that?!”
people asked me again. Because
of that I cannot carry heavy
things, I am always looking to
people for help.

When discussing the legal action that she undertook (line 43 [51 in English version]), she ends the phrase saying, “y no sabíamos” [we did not know], and in line 60 (68 in English version) she states, “Demanda, hemos entrado” [We sue him]. “We” is used as a ritual formula, giving the impression that she refers to an action as though taken by many people, assumedly the community, since it was a public proceeding. This behavior firmly establishes Sra. Margarita as part of the larger group, rather than speaking solely for herself or representing her personal opinions, in the event that what she is saying may be distrusted or perceived in a negative light.

A degree of confianza (confidence, trust) is present in this scenario. In lines 47-62 (55-70 in English version), Sra. Margarita recounts some feelings she experienced after the attack. Her anger is visible when dramatizing the encounters with the person who harmed her. The Kharisiri not only damaged her health and affected her psychologically, he also benefits—in this case by obtaining expensive items not accessible to the rest of the community. These consequences provoke anger in the victim, and this fact becomes evident when dramatic moments take place. Confianza also allowed for some intense interactions. In lines 63-72 (71-81 in English version), since the speaker knows that we are familiar with the people living in the community, she asked if we knew the teacher in question. Once she received a positive answer, an intense moment followed between the participants. She repeatedly uses the words “¿no?” [right?] and “¿no ve?” [isn’t it?] as linguistic patterns not to seek for answers but, in this particular situation, to recriminate. Discourse markers display the speaker as a sharer of new information and the audience as a listener who is fully capable of understanding the information presented. In the moment when ritual danger is present, the teller moves to a higher level and takes control of the situation. This is an example of what Goffman (1976) calls ritual constraints.

Ritual constraints smooth social interaction and correspond to system constraints. While system constraints provide the components required for all communication systems, ritual constraints reveal the system of social markers that allow communication to flow in an appropriate way. Such ritual expectations form the fabric of social life. People try to show through interactions that communication patterns identify people of social worth. That is, ritual constraints reveal the ways in which people present themselves as competent members of a particular society. While ritual constraints govern communication of all social groups, the ways they operate vary from group to group. As McDowell remarks, the “ritual component of cohesion derives from the potential embarrassment of a disparate orientation in the part of two or more co-participants in a conversation. The threat of a loss of cohesion is always present, and people engaged in talk must take steps to insure a common orientation.” (1985: 116).  Hence, transitions to adjacent thematic moments may be ritually dangerous.  Topical closures must be skillfully handled with caution to avoid confusion in the move to the next topic. Considering the last statement in Sra. Margarita’s account in lines 67-72 (74-81 in English version), the listener had to take an appropriate action by replying with an answer that satisfies the performer. In this particular move, the reply never happens; instead silence was present, creating a transition within the conversation.

The dramatization in these conversations emphasizes the significance of parts of the stories. The listener is drawn further into the story through the dramatization, highlighting specific segments of the story.  In a previous example, when Sr. Terán recounted his experiences with his sister, he said, “¡Puta! ¡Apúrate!” [Shit! Hurry up!]. The emphasis creates tension, causing the listener to feel the same emotion and involvement as Sr. Terán did in the actual moment. In the case of Sra. Margarita, the narrative is quite different. She experienced an attack and the struggle of recovery. As a survivor of a Kharisiri attack, Sra. Margarita emphasizes how people admire her for her strength: “¡Fuertes serás!” [You must be strong!] and “¡Cómo habrás andado!” [How did you bear that?]. These dramatic highlights portray confirmatory facts that might otherwise remain unapparent or obscure (Goffman 1973: 30) and at the same time involve the audience more. Along with these dramatic moments, repetition is also an essential factor in these narratives, serving as a connector. According to Tannen, repetition is a poetic strategy in discourse. It allows speakers to produce fluent speech while deciding what to say next (1989: 48) and shows how new utterances are linked to earlier discourse and how ideas presented in the discourse are related to each other (1989: 50).  Going beyond this concept, Sra Margarita uses repetition in dramatization to remind the listener of the hard times that she had to bear as well as the consequences of her attack. Repetition also achieves the speakers’ goals, which, in Sra. Margarita’s narrative, were to convince the listener that this story was true and that she has proof of her suffering. It is not simply her claim; she has witnesses who can confirm her pain, making her narrative a more reliable account.

These ritualistic moments of dramatization—along with altered tone of voice, specific body movements, and even the use of a different language, as in the case of Don Roberto and Quechua—further engage the listener in the performance.  Clearly, Kharisiri stories are difficult to share, and, when told, the danger they impose is handled through ritual care.  Simultaneously, these stories are so powerful in meaning that they take a dramatic form once a certain level of confianza allows the telling to take place.  One possible avenue for further study is language as a conceptual category—in this case, the creation of new words. The need to represent the unknown in these narratives led to the invention of a new vocabulary. The Kharisiri performs actions during his attacks such as blowing substances, putting people to sleep, hurting, cutting, and stealing. In my conversations with the residents of Corque, I frequently heard people refer to these actions as kharido or kharisiriado, transforming the noun Kharisiri into verbs.

The elements of transition in Kharisiri narratives are handled with care. These discourses are filled with ritualistic moments of transition such as change of topic, omitted information or silence, and allowances for spontaneous interventions and interpretations. There is an intended ambiguity in these discourses that protects the speaker and the narratives from unwanted conclusions on the part of the audience. Moments of risk clearly emerge in these narratives. The ritualistic set of moves in Kharisiri performances are used as “security devices.” Don Roberto employs “antiguamente” as a polysemic word, and Don Casiano imperceptibly shifts from one topic to another; these transitions appear to be largely unconscious and barely noticeable to the average listener. They also seem to have the effect of distancing the teller from the narrated events, even as they draw the audience into the tale.


Abercrombie, Thomas Alan. 1998. Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History among Andean People. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

Bastien, Joseph. 1985.  Qollahuaya-Andean Body Concepts: A Topographical-Hydraulic Model of Physiology. American Anthropologist 87(3):595-611.

Bauman, Richard. 1984.  “The Keying of Performance.”  Verbal Art as Performance. Illinois: Waveland Press.

—. 2004. A World of Other’s Words: Cross-Cultural Perspective on Intertextuality. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Fernández Juarez, Gerardo. 2006. Kharisiris De Agosto En El Altiplano Aymara De Bolivia. Chungara, Revista de Anthropología Chilena 38(1): 51-62.

Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

—. 1986. Frame Analysis: An Essay in the Organization of Experience. Boston: Northestern University Press.

—. 1973. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Overlook Press.

—. 1976. Replies and Responses.  Language in Society 5:257-313.

Guamán Poma de Ayala, Felipe, John V. Murra, Rolena Adorno, and Jorge Urioste. 1980. El primer crónica y buen gobierno. México, D.F.: Siglo Veintiuno.

Harrison, Regina. 1989. Sings, Songs, and Memory in the Andes: Translating Quechua Language and Culture. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

Hymes, Dell H. 1995. Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality: Toward an Understanding of Voice. Washington, DC: Taylor Francis.

—. 1974. Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

McDowell, John Holmes. 1985. The Poetic Rites of Conversation. Journal of Folklore Research.  22(2/3): 113-132.

Orta, Andrew. 2004. Seductive Strangers and Saturated Symbols. Catechizing Culture: Missionaries, Aymara, and the “New Evangelization”. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tannen, Deborah. 1989. Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics 6. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tannen, Deborah, ed. 1993. Framing in Discourse. New York: Oxford University Press.

1 I use the term “myth” in this particular narrative because of its sacred implicit content.

2 Kharisiri in the Quechua language means a person who cuts someone’s throat or a liar. It is also known in Bolivia as Llik’ichiri (wizard of the fat) and Khari-Khari (a person who cuts flesh). In Perú, it is known as Ñaq’ak (danger, evil) or as Pishtaco.

3 The myth of the Kharisiri has been documented since the colonial period.  In “Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno,” Guamán Poma de Ayala narrates a ritual where Inkas used fat to communicate with Huacas or God (1980: 194). Because of the use of fat in the manifestation of the myth, this account was related to similar practices of the Kharisiri.

4 According to Gerardo Fernández in his article “Kharisiris de Agosto en el Altiplano Aymara de Bolivia” (2006) natives of Ayacucho, Perú believed that the fat was transported to the United States to be used in machines. Based on this argument, Fernández explores the perception of the “other.”

5 Fat, then, is relevant for medical and ritual purposes because it is where energy is concentrated. For an explanation of the importance of fat for Andeans see  “Qollahuaya – Andean Body Concepts: A Topographical-Hydraulic Model Phisiology” (1985) by Joseph Bastien.

6 In the narratives recorded in Corque, Bolivia, some performers blame any bodily injury on Kharisiri attacks.

7 Fernandez has mentioned the perspective of the “other” in the myth in a broad sense. He argues that el Estado bolivano [Bolivian State] and other actors make decisions concerning indigenous issues without consulting the community. Similarly, the Kharisiri “abre el cuerpo físico y social de los grupos aymaras del altiplano promoviendo cambios pensados desde instancias ajenas a la estructura comunitaria” [exposes the physical and social body of Aymara groups in the highlands by promoting changes conceived outside of the community] (2006).

8 See Gerardo Fernández “Kharisiris de Agosto en el Altiplano Aymara de Bolivia” (2006).

9 Abercrombie (1998) was accused of being a Kharisiri and had to make a formal declaration of his innocence.

10 All names have been changed to protect the speakers’ anonymity.

[11]  ,  indicates a short silence or pause

(…) indicates silence

//  simultaneity of talk

(    ) indicates unintelligible speech

[…] previous conversation

12 “Ps” is a very common contraction of the word “pues” [then/so], which frequently provides transition.

13 Bolivian Quechua, “Kharisiri, ese es Kharisiri” [Kharisiri, that is a Kharisiri].

14 Bolivian Quechua, “Kharisiri, ese es Kharisiri” [Kharisiri, that is a Kharisiri].

15 I use the term “altercast” by Goffman when referring to the speaker’s ability to perform other figures  in his narrative when telling past events. It highlights the fact that the way in which one acts towards others has a definite pattern and may constrain what the other can do. In Goffman’s analysis “the self we select for ourselves can only ‘altercast’ the other figures in the story, leaving the hearers of the replay undermined in that regard.” (1981: 151).

16 Tannen lists some involvement strategies that work primarily using sound: rhythm; patterns based on repetition and variation of phonemes, morphemes, words, collocation of words and longer sequences of discourse; and figures of speech such as indirectness, ellipsis, tropes, dialogue, imagery and detail, and narrative (1989: 17).

17 Quehua word. Wild plants used as a firewood to start a fire.

18 Quechua word. Wild plants used as a firewood to start a fire.

Vannessa Pelaez Barrios studied Applied Linguistics at the University of San Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia, her home country. Her interest in the Teaching of Spanish as a Second Language and Andean Cultures took her to study in the Master Program of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University- Bloomington (2009).  Her research focuses on the linguistics strategies in daily conversations.


1 Comment

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