Synopses & Reviews
In the early twentieth century, Peruvian intellectuals, unlike their European counterparts, rejected biological categories of race as a basis for discrimination. But this did not eliminate social hierarchies; instead, it redefined racial categories as cultural differences, such as differences in education or manners. In Indigenous Mestizos
Marisol de la Cadena traces the history of the notion of race from this turn-of-the-century definition to a hegemony of racism in Peru.
De la Cadenaandrsquo;s ethnographically and historically rich study examines how indigenous citizens of the city of Cuzco have been conceived by others as well as how they have viewed themselves and places these conceptions within the struggle for political identity and representation. Demonstrating that the terms Indian and mestizo are complex, ambivalent, and influenced by social, legal, and political changes, she provides close readings of everyday concepts such as marketplace identity, religious ritual, grassroots dance, and popular culture, as well as of such common terms as respect, decency, and education. She shows how Indian has come to mean an indigenous person without economic and educational meansandmdash;one who is illiterate, impoverished, and rural. Mestizo, on the other hand, has come to refer to an urban, usually literate, and economically successful person claiming indigenous heritage and participating in indigenous cultural practices. De la Cadena argues that this version of de-Indianizationandmdash;which, rather than assimilation, is a complex political negotiation for a dignified identityandmdash;does not cancel the economic and political equalities of racism in Peru, although it has made room for some people to reclaim a decolonized Andean cultural heritage.
This highly original synthesis of diverse theoretical arguments brought to bear on a series of case studies will be of interest to scholars of cultural anthropology, postcolonialism, race and ethnicity, gender studies, and history, in addition to Latin Americanists.
A study of how Cuzco’s indigenous people have transformed the terms “Indian” and “mestizo” from racial categories to social ones, thus creating a de-stigmatized version of Andean heritage.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -398) and index.
About the Author
“This is a gripping book on how and why all the people of the city of Cuzco practice a cruel and elaborate game of discrimination against each other. . . . De la Cadena has successfully shifted the paradigm with which these issues used to be treated. There is enough challenging material in this book to set the standard by which future inquiries into these issues will be measured.” - Enrique Mayer, Hispanic American Historical Review“De la Cadena builds a detailed history of changing categories of social value, carefully distinguishing how the different social classes negotiated their relative status . . . . [Her] project of deconstructing and historicizing colonial categories makes the book interesting and accessible even for non-Latin Americanists.” - Mary H. Moran, Current Anthropology"[E]ngrossing . . . . De la Cadena has produced an invaluable addition to the literature on mestizaje, race, class, and culture in Latin America. The book is richly documented both historically and ethnographically . . . . [A] fascinating and thought-provoking book." - Peter Wade, Journal of Latin American Studies"Marisol de la Cadena provides a detailed ethnographic account spanning nearly a century of changing forms of identity construction and re-construction among diverse ethnic and social strata of the Cuzco area of Peru." - Donna Lee Van Cott, Latin American Research Review"Indigenous Mestizos is a wonderfully detailed analysis of race relations in Peru. The author's thorough research is convincing about the relativity of subaltern positions in regional and city struggles for cultural distinction. This is a groundbreaking contribution to understanding Peru as well as studies on race and ethnicity, education and cultural production in other contexts." - Caroline Yezer, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies“A magnificent study. This is a model of closely interwoven ethnographic and archival research, among the most significant contributions to contemporary Andean history and anthropology in many years.”—Brooke Larson, State University of New York at Stony Brook“Eloquent, engaging, and highly readable. With its synthetic treatment of ethnographic and historical materials this book makes a welcome and highly innovative contribution to both the specialist field of Andean studies and the general fields of cultural anthropology, Latin American studies, and racial and ethnic studies.”—Deborah Poole, New School for Social Research