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


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 reconciliation. 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 confidentiality. 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.





Yezer, Caroline (2007). Anxious Citizenship: Insecurity, Apocalypse and War Memories in Peru's Andes. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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