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Volume 64 / Humanities

HISTORY: 19th AND 20th CENTURIES


Peru

CHRISTINE HUNEFELDT, Professor of History, University of California, San Diego

THIS SET OF PUBLICATIONS denotes some unevenness, with some publications demonstrating very traditional approaches, and others presenting innovative research. The latter group is mainly composed of a generation of young Peruvian and non-Peruvian scholars (Drinot, Chambers, García-Bryce, Gargurevich, Mendez, and Cueto) who some time ago set out to rewrite Peruvian history, and a group of somewhat more mature historians who have seriously engaged in a revision of past historical interpretations (Contreras, Gootenberg, Klaren, Jacobsen, Glave, Montoya, Burga, and Sobrevilla).

Our annotated bibliography shows a clear predominance of "political history," a wide-ranging political history, covering various topics from research on electoral contexts to the evolution of republicanism, citizenship, and political representation (Aljovín de Losada), to biographical readings of politics (Alva Castro, Chang-Rodríguez, Conaghan, Hampe, Martínez Riaza, McEvoy, Pareja Pflucker), to more general readings of political processes (Contreras, Huiza, Jacobsen, Klaren, McEvoy (ed.), Sobrevilla, and Tardieu), and reiterations of the same arguments from 20 years ago (Roel).

Social history is the other salient and rich section, starting with Chambers' research on the legal boundaries between public and private spheres, and the multilayered perceptions of gender and honor in early republican Arequipa (item #bi2005004318#); and including the fine and detailed research by Drinot on the 1934 railway strike and the development of comedores populares in the 1930s (see HLAS 62:1659), the thorough analysis of the relationships between yanaconas and communally organized peasants and national parties (items #bi2005006017#), to interesting and innovative research on journalism and "proto-journalism" in the able hands of Gargurevich (item #bi2007002620#) and Glave Testino (item #bi2007002840#) (and the less able hands of Machuca Castillo, item #bi2007002621#), to Méndez's and Montoya's reassessments of the evolving relationships between ethnic groups and the power structure (items #bi2007002344# and #bi2008002122#, respectively), to the evolution of carnival celebrations in Lima by Rojas Rojas (item #bi2007002844#). The Méndez and the Montoya contributions are an extended version of an earlier work (see HLAS 60:2605).

To the sections of social and economic history, we need to add the renaissance of some interesting work done in the ethnographic present. Salomon, finds khipus in an Andean village (Tupicocha), and records their existence in archival sources (see HLAS 63:946), whereas Bunker reads Huanoquite's ditches as an Andean communication device (item #bi2008002121#), and Gelles looks at the irrigation system to illustrate the tensions between a state and a community-based view (see HLAS 61:827).

Regional and local studies still have a place in historical research, a research that could also be described as a micropolitical history in some cases. It is this kind of research that allows us to portray the daily workings of power relations on the ground: the relationships between caciczgos, alcaldes mayors, and the Andean communities as they struggle for property rights and build niches of identity (item #bi2007002619#), and the internal workings of the largest Peruvian peasant community, Catacaos, over three centuries (item #bi2006001684#).

Were it not for the fact that the monographs on military history are basically non-economic assessments of military endeavors, we would have been able to assume that military history in some sense could be equated with economic history. After all, military endeavors mean essentially the use of resources and the destruction of resources (human and nonhuman). In contrast, what we have is an "economically neutral" assessment of military action: a glorification of Cusco's participation in the War of the Pacific (item #bi2007002614#), a chronological sequence of military mobilization during the wars of independence (item #bi2007002609#), a story of the armed confrontation between APRA militants and the Peruvian Army in 1932 (item #bi2007002847#), a history of Peru's navy recounting memorable battles (item #bi2007002629#), a biography of Adm. Miguel Grau (item #bi2007002611#), and an exchange of bullets between Peru and Ecuador in 1941 (item #bi2005003114#).

On the economic history side, the 'harvest' has been poor at best, with only five entries, probably a reflection of more general historiographical tendencies that have been moving away from everything economic, to everything political and cultural. Dorn provides a reading of antagonistic economic projects with Truman's preaching of liberal capitalism on one side and President Peron's populism with implied strong fiscal spending on the other, and describes how Peru, in the hands of President (General) Odria, entered Truman's camp (item #bi2005002889#). Kemp, an engineer, presents a history of Peru's railroads over the past 70 years (item #bi2007002608#); Klarén provides us with an exhaustive history of sugar cultivation from colonial times to the agrarian reform (item #bi2005006039#).

Cueto once again takes us into the fascinating world of the history of science through his research on culturally based understandings of health and disease in the Amazon in the 1940s (see HLAS 63:855). In a similar vein—albeit less analytical and more descriptive—Bustíos Romaní, based on his earlier research on public health (1533–1933), provides a reading of the evolution of public health, medical knowledge, and medical institutions from 1933 to 1968 (item #bi2007002622#). Fascinating in this section on public health/history of science, is Drinot's contribution, a reading of suicide through different social lenses (item #bi2005002878#).

Once in a while, we see historians and social scientists sitting back to review the state of the art of their respective disciplines, sometimes reading historiographical trends against present-day realities (item #bi2007002845#) sometimes as a reflection of their own contributions to mark those historiographical tendencies (item #bi2008002122#), sometimes to find and propose new starting points for further inquiry and research (item #bi2005001801#), sometimes to better transmit historical wisdom (item #bi2007002625#).

Marking a change from the rich tradition of writing Peruvian colonial history, in this reviewing period we see very little research on the colonial period, and where it appears it is random and barely based on archival sources. In contrast, there is new and interesting research being done on the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in the realms of social history. Noteworthy within social history research are the works by Drinot, dealing with the emerging and solidifying union movements in the first decades of the 20th century, when he details the transformation of social and ethnic relations in the city of Lima, as well as the changing negotiation patterns between labor and the state. The only portion missing in his analysis is the effect these processes had on gender and family relations, especially in his piece on comedores populares (item #bi2006000388#). But, productive as this young scholar has proven to be, we are sure this missing chapter will soon be on our shelves. Also noteworthy is the astounding research done by García-Bryce and his research on artisans and artisan mutual aid societies and how they gradually embraced liberal ideology to rid themselves of their guild-like organization and mentality to move more freely into more modern ways of doing things (HLAS 62:1662-1663). We learn that this trajectory was very particular to Lima, because of the racial composition of the artisans in Lima. Artisans' transition to modernity was mediated by racial prejudice. García-Bryce presents a new way of reading the building of the nation-state and citizenship. Jacobsen's and Diez Hurtado's contribution brings us back to rural politics in Northern Peru in the early 20th century (item #bi2005006017#). It is a first attempt to understand peasant political alliances with organized parties, their bargaining strategies, and the role played by popular organized Montonero groups in mediating this relationship. Chamber's article is the only contribution that engages in an explicit gender perspective, as she analyzes the reshaping of legal devices in Peru's courtrooms, or put differently, how the state, through legal maneuverings, grabs hold of female virtue (item #bi2005004318#).

The Méndez and the Montoya contributions present an interesting counterpoint in their respective assessments of the changing relationships between ethnic groups and the state. Méndez's very subtle analysis of day-to-day political options in Huanta in the aftermath of the Wars of Independence shows a self-conscious peasantry and local leaders seeking to participate in the construction of the new republican state and society (item #bi2007002344#). In contrast, Montoya's reading of this relationship is a long term history of exclusion, as seen through the lenses of historical thinkers, notwithstanding the fact that indigenous peoples have long upheld their own notions of the basic pillars of modernity and liberal thought, namely justice, liberty, and communal decision-making (item #bi2008002122#). These two historians present very different ways of thinking about social interactions and the historical outcomes of such interactions, although the historical actors analyzed are the same.

It is not at all surprising to find an overall analytical strength in the realm of social history. Peru was and is struggling with questions of national identity: who is a part of the nation, and why. In this context it is particularly salient and important that other social institutions, such as the comedores populares, and social actors, like artisans, women, and Huantino peasants and peasants leaders are being brought into the historical scene. It is also important to assess how this process of nation building was in part forged through the media, which makes the research done by Gargurevich (item #bi2007002620#) and Glave Testino (item #bi2007002840#) particularly interesting.

I am grateful to the graduate students of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego for their assistance in compiling this section.


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