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Volume 58 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Peru

DANIEL M. MASTERSON, Professor, United States Navel Academy, Annapolis, Maryland

IN HLAS 54 AND HLAS 56, reviewer Nils P. Jacobsen noted the growing diversity and maturity of the historical scholarship on Republican Peru. He also commented on the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the literature with the development of the "new political history" which drew upon the work of European, particularly French, historians. Also significant were the additions of discourse analysis and hegemony, which emerged in literature on Latin American history more than a decade after these themes came to dominate the historical literature on modern Europe and to a lesser extent the US. As is often the case with trends in historical interpretation, reliance on these approaches has waned in recent years. Additionally, dependency theory and Marxist structuralism no longer dominate the literature as they did in previous decades. This may well reflect the failure of statist economic policies throughout Latin America and the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it is still too early to be certain that these will be lasting trends.

Some past mainstays of historical scholarship continue to garner careful attention. During the last years of the 20th century, studies of local and regional history, often sponsored by municipalities or departmental governments, continued to appear. Intellectual, political and, more recently, better-quality social histories are appearing regularly. As noted earlier, many of these studies are now less paradigmatic than in the past. Immigration histories, which have always been uneven with the exception of the Italians and the Chinese, are now becoming rapidly focused on the Japanese, although some interesting studies on smaller immigrant groups, such as the Croatians, are finally beginning to appear. The Alberto Fujimori phenomenon, as well as financial support from the Japanese community, particularly the JINAI Cultural Center in Lima, helps explain the surge of interest in Peru's relatively small nikkei (overseas Japanese) community. As might be expected, the Japanese-Peruvian scholars in Peru are responsible for much of the best work on the topic. Still, significant regional histories of the Japanese by non-nikkei scholars are beginning to emerge. The Peruvian nikkei have kept meticulous records, greatly aiding scholarship by members of their own community and by foreign historians as well.

There remains much scholarly space for the history of slavery in Peru. Blanchard's work on slavery and abolition has been followed most notably by Hunefelt's analysis of Lima's slaves and their resistance patterns, but has not yet been augmented by works of similar magnitude. The 19th-century social and political evolution of Peru, a field that has not received the attention it deserves until recently, continues to mature with the appearance of excellent studies on the rise of Civilismo and the role of the peasantry in the transition from colonial to republican rule.

The 1995 renewal of hostilities between Peru and Ecuador over their long-standing border dispute produced a flood of scholarship by both professional and amateur Peruvian scholars and the government. Some of these studies are founded on solid scholarship and merit mention in this review. Looking at the history of militarism, the military governments of Generals Juan Velasco Alavardo and Francisco Morales Bermudez are now a generation in the past. The deluge of literature on the military prompted by the docenio (12-year military rule) and its unprecedented and controversial reforms is now a mere trickle, but important monographs continue to emerge. In a broader sense, serious historical scholarship on the Peruvian military for both the 19th and 20th century was nearly absent for this review period.

As Jacobsen reported in HLAS 56, the history of women and gender has yet to appear as a mature field of study. Biographical studies, always a mainstay of Peruvian historiography, have not been significant in the past few years. Aside from the expected studies of Peru's Marxist icon, José Carlos Mariátegui, and the valuable but abbreviated biographies of prominent Peruvians by the Lima publisher BRASA, this field has suffered, possibly as a result of the greater diversity of historical scholarship. The historical literature on peasant consciousness and resistance in the republican era is still a field requiring further study. Important studies on peasant resistance and adaption in Ica, and on liberalism and traditional Indian communities provides evidence that this is still an area of serious scholarly concern. Significantly, very few biographies of APRA leader Victor Raul Haya de la Torre have been published two decades after his death. This may be explained in part by the decline of APRA as a significant political force in Peru in the aftermath of the Alan García's presidential debacle of the late 1980s.

General, and to a lesser extent, diplomatic histories of Peru continue to appear. Notable among these general works is a valuable anthology that is especially useful in the classroom. A number of other general studies demonstrate especially fine scholarship.

Klarén's very recently published Oxford history of Peru (item #bi 00002695#), will stand as the standard survey of Peru for decades to come. The broad range of his research is quite impressive. Unlike most studies in the Oxford series, which heavily stress economic developments, often at the expense of social and political aspects, Klarén's work offers a more balanced account. In addition, significant attention is paid to the role of the military in 20th-century affairs. The bibliography is a model of completeness and will be a valuable aid to scholars. Clayton's diplomatic history of Peruvian-US relations completes the first dozen of such studies in the University of Georgia series (item #bi 00004001#). It is a particularly vital work of scholarship because it transcends the traditional diplomatic history to include important social and economic themes, especially the unbalanced relationships between powerful US corporations such as Grace and the International Petroleum Company and the Peruvian state. Peru's troubled relationship with the US military through the Sendero Luminoso era also is given close attention. Wagner de Reyna's diplomatic history of Peru through the early decades of the 20th century offers useful background information on the lingering border disputes with Colombia and Ecuador and the formulation of international policy with non-Latin American nations (item #bi 00000443#). Also valuable to historians is the comprehensive anthology edited by Starn, Degregori, and Kirk that begins with the Chavin culture and works its way through to the modern cocaine economy and important aspects of contemporary Peruvian popular culture (see HLAS 57:1215).

In the realm of local and regional history, Doering and Lohman Villena's history of Lima published in the MAPFRE series is dated (item #bi 97009045#), but represents one of the best urban histories of the past decade by two of Peru's finest historians. Complementing this study of Lima is the excellent anthology edited by Panfichi and Portocarrero (item #bi 97009056#), which covers the century after 1850 and, as such, does not touch upon the mass migrations from the sierra which were about to occur. Historians of early-19th-century Peru will find the work by Santos-Granero and Barclay on the selva central, now offered in translation through Smithsonian Institution Press, extremely valuable with regard to the history of land-use patterns in this Peruvian frontier province (item #bi 00002703#). Other regional works of particular note are Huertas Vallejos' examination of the Sechura region (item #bi 00002693#) and Villegas Romero's study of Arequipa in the early-19th century (item #bi 97009044#). Scholars studying the history of cotton agriculture will find the work by Cueto and Lossio helpful, especially their emphasis on scientific innovations (item #bi 00004003#).

The study of the Japanese experience in Peru will rest for years to come on the excellent scholarship of the late Japanese-Peruvian sociologist, Fukumoto (item #bi 00004005#). Emphasizing social themes such as family stability and changes in cultural attitudes through four generations, Fukumoto still offers valuable quantitative materials drawn from the 1989 Japanese self-census in Peru. Morimoto, who was the chief administrator of that self-census, has updated an earlier study that also merits careful attention (item #bi 00002699#). Rocca Torres has written the only comprehensive regional history of the Japanese in Peru (item #bi 00002711#). One of the most compelling autobiographies by any Peruvian immigrant is Higashide's account of his challenging life in Japan, Peru, and the US (item #bi 00004006#). First published in Japanese, the book is now available in English through the University of Washington Press. An annotated book of photographs of Peru's Japanese compiled and edited by Watanabe, Morimoto, and Chambi bears mention because of its particular value to specialists and the poignancy of many of its photographs (item #bi 00002709#). Ortíz Sotelo's study of the small Croatian community, through the lens of one particular Croatian family, provides an interesting and relatively fresh approach to immigration history in Peru (item #bi 00002710#).

Valuable works dealing with Peru's evolving political and social culture in the 19th century continue to appear. The highly useful study by McEvoy explores the nation's search for the illusive "political ideal," particularly during the early part of the Civilista era (item #bi 00002697#). This work is complemented by that of German historian Mücke, who deftly examines the first decade of the Partido Civil (item #bi 98008275#). Thurner's monograph examines Republican nation-building from the perspective of its implications for the peasant population of highland Peru (item #bi 97004693#). Issues of resistance and cultural adaption are framed in the context of the 1885 Atusparia uprising and peasant political culture. Thurner's article in the Hispanic American Historical Review explores similar themes but focuses on the relationship between Atusparia and the military caudillo Andrés Cáceres (item #bi 97012022#). Jacobsen presents a convincing analysis of the failure of liberalism to draw indigenous communities into the modern world of individualism and acquisitive capitalism (item #bi 97012558#). Peloso's valuable work on the peasantry of the Pisco valley in Ica analyzes the changing role of cotton plantation workers over the course of generations, detailing altered worker-planter relationships due to modernization (item #bi 99001756#).

Of the rush of books appearing on military, diplomatic, and legal aspects of Peru's border conflict with Ecuador since 1996, two of the most balanced and thoroughly researched accounts are those by Denegri Luna and Yepes (items #bi 97009038# and #bi 00002708#, respectively). The former concentrates on the long-term historical and diplomatic aspects of the dispute, while the latter examines attempts to politically validate the 1942 Rio de Janeiro settlement through legal means and US assistance.

Studies of the military and Sendero Luminoso have continued to diminish in the late 1990s. After more than a decade of reflection, it appears that the rapid decline of Sendero Luminoso following the capture of leader Abimael Guzmán in Sept. 1992 seriously undermined the Maoist paradigm and its applicability to Peru. Nevertheless, as the years have unfolded careful research has resulted in fewer, but more evenly balanced studies reflecting Peruvian impressions and memories of the civil war. Very useful for understanding the phenomenon of Sendero Lumunoso and critical issues related to the rise of the quasi-Maoist group is the anthology by Stern, Shining and other paths: war and society in Peru, 1980-1995, which contains, among others, valuable essays by Starn on the Rondas Campesinas (peasant defense brigades) (item #bi 00002704#), Mallon on antecedents to the movement in the Velasco era agrarian reforms (item #bi 00002698#), and Coral Cordero on the role of women in the conflict (item #bi 00004002#). Among its many strong points, the compelling account of the Shining Path's women sets the work by Kirk apart from most studies of the movement (item #bi 00002694#). Reflecting upon both Mariátegui's legacy and the Maoist paradigm of Sendero Luminoso, Masterson's analysis debates the peasant origins of and its ideological links to orthodox Maoism (item #bi 00002696#). The short but focused work by Mauceri on state policy and civil- military relations places great emphasis on the failure of "state populism" of the military and failed civilian governments before the 1990s in opening the doors for Sendero Luminoso (item #bi 00004045#). Tapia effectively examines the failed strategies of both the military and Sendero Luminoso before the capture of Guzmán in 1992 (item #bi 00002707#). Though flawed by a heavy offering of questionable statistical tables, the work by Fujimori's military chief of staff, De Bari Hermoza Ríos, will be of some use to scholars studying the Peruvian military's perspective during the conflict with Sendero Luminoso (item #bi 00002712#).

Turning to the rather slim biographical offerings, two in particular should draw the serious attention of scholars. Tamariz Lúcar's study of General Manuel A. Odría is one of the best to appear thus far (item #bi 00002706#). Additionally, Stein offers an intriguing look at the early life of José Carlos Mariátegui set around a 1917 ceremony in a Lima cemetery (item #bi 00002705#). Drawing upon Freud and literary theorists, the study provides a sophisticated analysis. Finally, as the Fujimori era enters its second decade, we continue to await a balanced and well-researched biography of the controversial Japanese-Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori. Nevertheless, just as occurred with the extended rule of Gen. Velasco, useful anthologies of Fujimori's political and economic policies are now appearing. Editors Cameron and Mauceri strike a nice balance between these issues (item #bi 00004047#) and include an especially fine essay by Degregori on the post-Sendero era, among others (item #bi 00004004#). Another anthology edited by Crabtree and Thomas emphasizes the "political economy" of the Fujimori regime (item #bi 00002713#). Despite Fujimori's success in reversing the economic chaos of the García years, several contributors in this volume are deeply critical of the implications of his economic policies. Nevertheless, with reliable data still unavailable for the last years of the 20th century, assessments offered in this work may be tempered by time as the new century unfolds.

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