Indigenous Mestizos

The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991

Indigenous Mestizos

Latin America Otherwise

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Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 21 b&w photographs, 2 maps, 1 table Published: February 2000

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Andes

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 Cadena’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 means—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-Indianization—which, rather than assimilation, is a complex political negotiation for a dignified identity—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 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


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marisol de la Cadena is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series vii

Acknowledgments ix

Past Dialogues about Race: An Introduction to the Present 1

1. Decency in 1920 Urban Cuzco: The Cradle of the Indigenistas 44

2. Liberal Indigenistas versus Tawantinsuyu: The Making of the Indian 86

3. Class, Masculinity, and Mestizaje: New Incas and Old Indians 131

4. Insolent Mestizas and Respeto: The Redefinition of Mestizaje 177

5. Cuzquenismo, Respeto, and Discrimination: The Mayordomias of Almudena 231

6 Respeto and Authenticity: Grassroots Intellectuals and De-Indianized Indigenous Culture 272

7. Indigenous Mestizos, De-Indianization, and Discrimination: Cultural Racism in Cuzco 306

Notes 331

Bibliography 367

Index 399
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2420-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2385-3
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