American University
thesesdissertations_30_OBJ.pdf (23.03 MB)

Chola in a Choke Hold: Gender, Globalization, and Authenticity in Bolivian Lucha Libre

Download (23.03 MB)
posted on 2023-09-07, 05:04 authored by Nell Haynes

This dissertation explores how globalization has impacted the practice of professional wrestling in La Paz, Bolivia. Specifically, I look at the "cholitas luchadoras"--female wrestlers who dress in traditional chola attire while performing, and their male colleagues who wear spandex costumes similar to those of exhibition wrestlers around the world. Given the exoticization of indigenous women and the fact that they are often positioned as symbols of the nation, it is not surprising that the cholitas luchadoras have become popular among both Bolivians and foreign tourists. In referencing the social capital of the indigenous woman, the luchadoras advance their own social standings, develop international mobility, increase potential for economic gain, and thus access certain forms of cosmopolitanism. However, male luchadores sometimes accuse the cholitas luchadoras of using clown-like gimmicks that contribute to an international reputation of Bolivian lucha libre as subpar. Within this context, notions of authenticity emerge as important sites of conflict and gendered tensions between legitimacy of sport and economic gains arise. Thus, this dissertation explores the tensions between the local and global, tradition and modernity, and authenticity and illegitimacy as experienced and produced by luchadores in Bolivia.



American University


Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. American University


Degree grantor

American University. Department of Anthropology

Degree level

  • Doctoral

Submission ID


Usage metrics

    Theses and Dissertations


    No categories selected