Anxious Citizenship: Insecurity, Apocalypse and War Memories in Peru's Andes

by Yezer, Caroline

Abstract (Summary)
The war between the Peruvian state and the Maoist Shining Path rebels

began in the Department of Ayacucho, an area with a majority of indigenous

Quechua- speaking peasant villages. After twenty years of violence (1980-2000),

this region of South America’s Andes began a critical period of demilitarization,

refugee resettlement, and reconciliation. In this transition, the rebuilding of villages

devastated by the war raises critical questions about indigenous autonomy,

citizenship, and the role of international human rights initiatives in local


I examine the tensions between interventions by national and transnational

organizations, and the insecurities that continue to define everyday life in villages

like Wiracocha - a newly resurrected community that was in the heart of the war

zone.1 Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in this village and ten months of

comparative fieldwork in villages across the Ayacucho region and in the city of

Huamanga, my research shows that villagers were often at odds with the aid and

interventions offered to them from the outside. I focus on the complicated nature of

village war history, paying attention to the initial sympathy with Shining Path and

the village's later decision to join the counterinsurgency. In Ayacucho, memory has

itself become a site of struggle that reveals as much about present-day conflict,

ambivalences, and insecurities of neoliberal Peru as it does about the actual history

1 Wiracocha is a pseudonym that I am using in order to maintain subject


of the war. Villagers sometimes oppose official memory projects and humanitarian

initiatives - including Peru's Truth Commission - that that they see at odds with their

own visions and agendas. Finally, I examine the less predictable ways that villagers

have redefined what it means to be Andean, including: the maintenance of village

militarization, a return to hard-handed customary justice and the adoption of bornagain

Christianity as a new form of moral order and social solidarity.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Starn, Orin; Allison, Anne; De la Cadena, Marisol; Litzinger, Ralph; Nelson, Diane; Piot, Charles

School:Duke University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:peru cover war reconciliation evangelical christianity coca drug trade human rights


Date of Publication:05/10/2007

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