The political emergence of rural world in Bolivian politics is often analysed through the prism of El Alto, incarnation of the “rebel city”, that is supposed to be populated by migrants from Aymara communities of the Altiplano. This vision of a rural world transposing its traditions of struggle and its collective forms of organisation into an urban context is not only used to explain the demographical growth of the city, but also the emergence of political mobilisations against the privatization of natural resources and urban services. The objective of this article is to question this interpretative scheme of rural migration. The argument is based on an investigation about the unequal access to water in El Alto, that reveals urban aspirations of living. This analysis of socio-spatial inequalities of access to water, combining ethnography, cartography and statistical distribution of a questionnaire of a sample of population issues from peripheral areas, will show the importance of familial strategies of installation to access to property in those expanding zones. A sociological perspective upon recent transformations of urban space will include the study of the effects of these transformations upon social relations, political opinions and identities. This investigation will show another side of the “Aymara city”, with the importance of territorial identification and urban aspirations upon mobilisations for basic services.


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