To Revolt against the Revolution: War and Resistance in Peru's Andes

Essay Excerpt

This article examines the history of the rondas campesinas.[5] Easy characterizations of the patrollers as either brutish Hobbesian thugs or noble Tolstoian defenders of pastoral traditions or national sovereignty collapse in the face of this unanticipated turn in Peru's war. "Swings from noble savage to murderous savage, from shattered victim to heroic resister," as anthropologist Irene Silverblatt affirms about representations of Peru's indigenous peoples in the 17th century, "have drained the life and lessons" of Andean history under colonialism (Silverblatt 1993:293). To avoid the same mistake with Peru's postcolonial peasants, we need to grapple with the compromised histories - the stiff limits and unintended consequences, split allegiances, missed chances and complicities - that make us "contradictory selves, part of contradictory worlds" (Silverblatt 1993:294). The need to push against the confines of dualism and linear thinking is manifest not only in the fragmentation, intertextuality, and massive commodification of the postindustrial megalopolises of Latin America or the United States. In the countryside of the third world, precisely in those "isolated" and "remote" villages that remain the targets of so much metropolitan discourse of authenticity and Otherness, the wild contours of the social landscape turn out to be just as defiant of our preconceived categories and models, and the world also moves in more than one direction (548-549). 

Starn, Orin. "To Revolt against the Revolution: War and Resistance in Peru's Andes." Cultural Anthropology 10.4(1995): 547–580.

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