Megan Ryburn’s Uncertain Citizenship: Everyday Practices of Bolivian Migrants in Chile (University of California Press, 2018) is a multi-sited ethnography of citizenship practices of Bolivian migrants in Chile. The book asks readers to think beyond a binary category of citizen/noncitizen when looking at migrant practices and spaces. Instead, Uncertain Citizenship emphasizes the transnational, overlapping, and fluctuating forms of citizenship that migrants engage with and inhabit as they move through their lives and across borders. While Ryburn understands the importance of legal and bureaucratic status as a determinant of the experience of migration, her book fundamentally considers “papeleo” as a practice and an experience in which there are many opportunities for regularization as well as marginalization.
Uncertain Citizenship is an essential read for scholars of the Andes and the Southern Cone, as well as scholars of migration generally. Her reflections on ethnographic practice and engaging style make this book a good fit for undergraduate classrooms as well with chapters on solidarity, dance troupes, and the Chilean Dream. Dr. Ryburn is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the London School of Economics Latin America and Caribbean Centre. Uncertain Citizens: Bolivian Migrants in Chile received an honorable mention for the Best Book of Social Sciences in 2019 from the LASA Southern Cone Studies Section She is the Book Review Editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies.
Elena McGrath is an Assistant Professor of History at Union College in Schenectady, NY.