Bolin, Inge

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Bolin, Inge


Born in Stuttgart, Germany; married; children: two. Education: University of Calgary, B.A. (with distinction), 1976; University of Alberta, M.A., 1980, Ph.D., 1987; also attended classes at Indiana University—Bloomington, University of Geneva, and other institutions.


Office—Department of Anthropology, Malaspina University College, 900 5th St., Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 5S5, Canada; fax: 250-758-6634. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, lecturer in anthropology, 1979-84; Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, lecturer in anthropology, 1981-88; Malaspina University College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, professor of anthropology, 1989-2002, research associate, 2002—. Yachaq Runa—Andean Medicine, Nutrition, and Ecology (volunteer organization), Cusco, Peru, founder, 1992; conducted extensive field research in the Peruvian Andes and other areas of Latin America, beginning 1976. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, visiting research fellow, 1988-89; Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos, research associate, 1992; conference participant and chair. Lufthansa, former flight attendant.


Institute of Andean Studies, Society for Applied Anthropology, Primate Protection League.


Province of Alberta M.A. scholarships, 1977-79; Province of Alberta fellow, 1981-82; award from community of Yanahuara, Peru, 1988; award from Provincial Municipality of Urubamba, Peru, 1999. Grants from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH, 1984, University of Alberta, 1984-85, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1985, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1988-89, Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, 1992, and Malaspina University College.


Rituals of Respect: The Secret of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1998.

Growing Up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2006.

Author of foreword to Yachasun: Experiencias en Medicina Tradicional Andina, edited by Dina Pantigozo, Yachaq-Qosqo Editorial Mercantil (Cusco, Peru), 1996; contributor to other books, including Irrigation at High Altitudes: The Social Organization of Water Control Systems in the Andes, edited by William P. Mitchell and David Guillet, Society for Latin American Anthropology, 1994. Contributor to periodicals, including Latin American Anthropology Review, Horizons, Human Organization, Primates, Development and Cooperation, Solar Cooker Review, Practicing Anthropology, and Shaman's Drum: Journal of Experiential Shamanism and Spiritual Healing.


In 1984, during the course of her doctoral studies, Inge Bolin began anthropological work in Peru. Since then, "Bolin has been researching and working with the ‘almost forgotten’ villages in the high Andes of Peru," according to a 1997 news release from Malaspina University College, the institution where Bolin is a professor of anthropology. Bolin has been involved in numerous Peruvian social projects. For example, she supplied some Peruvian people with medical aid and supplies and has helped establish libraries and industries. In 1995 members of an organization that she founded, Yachaq Runa—Andean Medicine, Nutrition, and Ecology (the Quechua name means "wise people") published Yachasun: Experiencias en Medicina Tradicional Andina. Bolin told CA: "In association with this organization, I have been working with high-altitude Peruvian communities on health, educational, and environmental projects, such as building and equipping health clinics, first aid stations, a small laboratory, elaboration of natural medicine, organizing monthly health and food campaigns in various communities, combating malnutrition, providing drinking water and water reservoirs, irrigation projects, agricultural projects, reforestation projects, fish enhancement in the river, a greenhouse, building and equipping schools, a kindergarten, libraries, and a women's club house, solar cooker projects, photo-voltaic projects to provide light and solar hot water to health stations, schools, and other buildings, shower houses with solar water heaters, workshops for an orphanage, and small businesses for indigenous people. Between 1986 and 1992, these projects were funded through Germany and Canada; since 1992, almost exclusively through Germany. The students of the Anthropology Club of Malaspina University College, together with Change for Children in Edmonton, funded a seed potatoes project for Chillihuani. University students also helped with a project to curb malnutrition among Peruvian children."

Bolin commented: "Although I had worked and studied in many different parts of the world, I have been most fascinated by Peru—its people, its enigmatic past, its landscapes ranging from deserts via snow-covered mountain ranges to the jungles of the Amazon. Yet, despite the beauty and charm of this country, I also saw its problems, mainly poverty and the plight of the Quechua Indians, who seldom receive the respect they deserve. I began to cooperate with the indigenous people of Peru in a variety of ways.

"After my master's degree field work in primatology in the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon, in Belize and Guatemala, and my doctoral research on irrigation societies in Peru situated at an altitude of around 3,000 meters, I climbed to the highest inhabitable regions of the Andes to live in villages up to almost 5,000 meters (16,450 feet) above sea level. Despite the hardships that poverty and an extreme environment bring, it was in these remote and often almost inaccessible regions that I found revealing responses to our human existence.

"It has been intriguing to learn from the Quechua people about their past and their views on the present and future in a land where one mountain peak after another loses its white poncho [of snow]. It has been fascinating to hear their views on respect, which they say is due not only to fellow humans but to animals and all aspects of nature as well. I am no armchair anthropologist. I believe that during difficult times, when survival is at stake due to problems such as climate change that is most severe at high altitudes, anthropologists should get involved, working side by side with the indigenous populations on life-sustaining projects. Reciprocity—anthropological research in exchange for development assistance—has been a very important component of my work in the Peruvian Andes.

In 1998 Bolin published her book Rituals of Respect: The Secret of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes, which describes the life of a small, traditional community living at such high altitude that it is relatively isolated from the rest of the world, scarcely touched by war, technology, political upheaval, and other human intrusions, but heavily impacted by the forces of nature. Bolin's admiration for these hardy people emerges clearly in the anecdotes she relates about the rituals that shape their lives, reviewers have noted. Kathleen Schroeder wrote in the Journal of Cultural Geography: "General readers and undergraduate students should find this work quite accessible. Bolin provides highly detailed accounts of the rituals." Shirley Goldberg went further in her Pier review: "Bolin combines the discipline of an anthropologist with the insights of a novelist, and the eye of a filmmaker…. This is a page-turner."

Bolin focused on one aspect of Chillihuana life in Growing Up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru. Jelke Boesten observed in the Journal of Latin American Studies that "she looks at why children in Chillihuana are attentive, creative, skilful, and, in particular, so respectful towards the outside world, people, animals and materials alike." Bolin describes a culture where all are equal, competition dos not exist, and even childhood play functions as an introduction to the grownup world of work and responsibility. As Liliana Wendorff reported in the Latin Americanist, children begin tending the family herds as early as age five, emphasizing that herding is in no way as easy as it might seem to the casual observer. At the same time, children are loved and cherished and granted the kind of respect that will enable them to develop into confident adults. Wendorff wrote: "Bolin ends the book with high praise and hope for the Chillihuana." Like some critics of Bolin's earlier book, Boesten wondered if the anthropologist's views of the Chillihuana are filtered through rose-colored glasses, but also called her writing "a welcome variation to the misery that is so often emphasised in studies looking at living conditions in Peru."



Anthropology and Education Quarterly, December, 2007, review of Growing Up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru.

Journal of Cultural Geography, September 22, 2001, Kathleen Schroeder, review of Rituals of Respect: The Secret of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes.

Journal of Latin American Studies, May, 2007, Jelke Boesten, review of Growing Up in a Culture of Respect, p. 448.

Latin Americanist, fall, 2006, Liliana Wendorff, review of Growing Up in a Culture of Respect.

Pier, April 22, 1999, Shirley Goldberg, review of Rituals of Respect, p. 7.

Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 1999, Tristan Platt, review of Rituals of Respect, p. 36.


Malaspina University College Web site, (November 28, 2007).

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Bolin, Inge

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