Past events

Research in Progress: Martyn Wemyss
Friday 05 February 2016, 04:30pm - 06:30pm
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Friday 5 February, 4.30 pm

Embodied Ghosts of Phantom Lynchings: A 'hauntography' of El Alto's hanging puppets

Martyn Wemyss, LSE

This event is free, but places must be booked. To book tickets please go to:

El Alto's markets and residential streets are marked by the phenomenon of puppets or mannequins - clothes stuffed with rags making a human shape and hanged by nooses from the lamp posts, often wearing a sign around their necks explaining their fate ('I am a thief'). These figures are frequently complimented by hand painted warnings  such as 'the thief will be lynched and burned on this street'. These signs and messages interpellate anyone passing them into a kind of legal order and construct the street and neighbourhood as places of danger and latent violence. However, the people living there express a horror of violence, and no-one will admit to making or hanging the puppets or painting the signs.
This paper brings these phenomena together with other ethnographic materials collected across the Bolivian high plains, to situate them within wider legal and political imaginaries, and suggests an approach to law which incorporates geographical, temporal, material and mytho-poetic dimensions.

Location 3