Review of Intimate Enemies (Kimberly Theidon) and De víctimas a ciudadanos (EPAF)

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In its 2003 final report, the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission calculated the number of dead from the violence that raged between 1980 and 2000 at 69,280. Even though this was more than double the figure usually cited, some specialists believed that the actual number was even higher. Both the Shining Path and the Peruvian Armed Forces hid or disappeared thousands of victims, and many communities and individuals refused to collaborate with the truth commission. Thus, despite the indefatigable work of the commission members, the report left out entire massacres and countless smaller tragedies. Nonetheless, it denounced with rigor and indignation the violence that spread throughout Peru and the shocking silence about it in Lima and beyond.

These two books examine the era of violence and its aftermath. This is not easy reading: gruesome sexual violence, paralyzing personal guilt, and heartbreaking family separations are among the major themes. Both books respectfully and skillfully explore how the primary victims of the violence (the indigenous peasantry of the south-central Andes, in the Ayacucho region) understand the period and seek justice. Both contribute to these efforts as well as the more scholarly examination of how people, communities, and societies remember, forget, and forgive.

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Rafael Dumett sobre Túpac Amaru y la rebelión que pudo haber triunfado

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Acabo de leer el post de Rafael Dumett (“El día en que triunfó la rebelión de Túpac Amaru II”) sobre dos textos míos y estoy muy agradecido por la buena lectura y los comentarios lúcidos del escritor. Dumett comenta mi reciente libro, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, como el artículo “Un Inca en Sacsayhuamán. Si Si Túpac Amaru hubiese tomado Cuzco (1780-1781)” que apareció en Contra-historia del Perú. Ensayos de historia política (2012). En su post, Dumett subraya algunas de las dudas mayores alrededor del levantamiento, sobre todo en los momentos cruciales en que una decisión distinta pudo haber cambiado la historia de la Gran Rebelión y, tal vez, la del Perú mismo. Comenta en primer lugar la demora en sitiar el Cusco. Yo, al igual que muchos otros historiadores, me pregunto ¿por qué la victoria en Sangarará (noviembre) no fue seguida con un ataque al Cusco en vez de ir al sur y atacar recién al final del año? Para muchos, esta decisión terminó por condenar a la rebelión, facilitando la captura de José Gabriel Condorcanqui y Micaela Bastidas meses después.

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Tupac Amaru in City Lights Books (San Francisco, 06/23)

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I must admit that I’m particularly excited about the presentation at City Lights. As a kid growing up in Santa Cruz county, a mediocre student but a voracious reader, I would visit the store to feel like a Beat poet. I had read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road more than once and hoped to run into Lawrence Ferlinghetti or Allen Ginsberg.

As an undergraduate at Berkeley, I crossed the bay to visit the store. I remember buying a copy of Kerouac’s Dharma Blues, which I had already read, because it seemed cool to do so. I returned when I lived in Palo Alto for a year and in subsequent visits to Santa Cruz and the Bay Area. Since I moved to Davis I make it there frequently and have taken friends from Peru, Spain, and the east coast.

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An Enlightened Bishop: Emily Berquist’s new book on Baltazar Jaime Martínez Compañón and 18th century Trujillo (Peru)

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Emily Berquist (California State University, Long Beach) has written an innovative, important, and lovely book on Bishop Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón, who wandered around northern Peru in the eighteenth century. But he wasn’t an idle wanderer–he collected plants; sketched people dancing, farming, rowing, bathing (a woman with leprosy), even removing molars (yes, dentistry); founded new cities; gathered data; and tinkered with mining and envisioned how to change late colonial Peru. As both an artist and observer, Bishop Martínez Compañón provided a wonderful entryway into northern Peru, particularly around Trujillo.

His utopic vision of a more just society was dashed by local realities: power struggles, resistance to change, and deep-rooted mistrust among Peru’s different classes and ethnic groups. Nonetheless, he plotted out fascinating alternative paths and never stopped observing, drawing, and writing.

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May 18: The execution / 18 de mayo: La ejecución

Tupac Amaru execution. Source: Tupac Amaru Metafora y Memoria

Several people have written me in the last few days to ask what my book has to say about Tupac Amaru’s execution on May 18, 1781, 224 years ago today. I believe I give a full account with some new contributions, including an analysis of the wretched torture session, la garrucha, on April 29. His legs tied together and his arms behind his back, weighed down with 100 pounds of lead and iron, Tupac Amaru was slowly pulled to the ceiling via a pulley then dropped down violently, the ropes stopped just before he hit the floor. His bones broke and dislocated, the pain increasing every time he was raised to the ceiling. His first words: “AY, AY, AY, MERCY Lord, AY, AY….” There would be no mercy. The session lasted thirty minutes.

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Un Obispo Ilustrado: el nuevo libro de Emily Berquist sobre Baltazar Jaime Martínez Compañón (Trujillo, Perú, siglo XVIII)

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Emily Berquist (California Long State University at Long Beach) ha escrito The Bishop’s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), un libro innovador, importante y agradable sobre el Obispo Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón, quien merodeó por el norte del Perú en el siglo XVIII. Pero no se trató de un vagabundo cualquiera. Martínez Compañón recolectó plantas, dibujó gente danzando, cosechando, bañándose (una mujer con lepra), incluso extrayéndose un molar; encontró ciudades nuevas; recolectó información; se aventuró en la minería; y propuso algunos planes sobre cómo cambiar el virreinato. En su doble faceta de artista y observador, Martínez Compañón brinda una formidable entrada al norte del Perú, especialmente la ciudad de Trujillo. Su visión utópica de una sociedad más justa se estrelló contra el contexto local: luchas por el poder, resistencia al cambio, una confianza secular entre los diversos grupos étnicos y clases del territorio colonial. No obstante, él delineó fascinantes caminos alternativos y nunca dejó de observar, dibujar y escribir.

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Entrevista con José Miguel Silva que apareció en El Comercio.  José Miguel sabe mucho de historia y de su oficio de periodista.  Resaltamos algunos de los temas centrales del libro.

Ehttp://elcomercio.pe/luces/libros/editorial-harvard-publica-libro-sobre-tupac-amaru-ii-noticia-1726572

Recordando al Profesor Miguel Maticorena (1926-2014)

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Conocí al Dr. Maticorena hace unos diez años, en una presentación en la Feria Internacional del Libro en Lima. Se me acercó y se presentó de la forma más humilde. Se sorprendió cuando le dije que conocía muy bien sus trabajos. Creo que pensó que me había atrapado en una mentira al preguntarme: ¿cuál de ellos?

Le hablé de su ensayo sobre el concepto del cuerpo político en Túpac Amaru que apareció en la valiosa antología de la Comisión Nacional del Bicentenario de la Rebelión Emancipadora de Túpac Amaru (en la cual también participó como editor).

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Alan Taylor and “The Internal Enemy”

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I’m delighted that Alan Taylor has picked up his second Pulitzer Prize, this time for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832. As in his other, gulp, six books, he presents his arguments beautifully and convincingly. The research is top-notch (Alan does not rest on his laurels–the archival detective work is exquisite) and his findings are significant on numerous fronts. I’d encourage non-specialists to read it.

I finished it last month and have been pushing it on my grad students (as well as many of his other works). The story of how slaves aligned with the British in an attempt to shake off the horrors of slavery is fascinating, the characters vivid. This is not the case of all too many studies of “resistance” in which the ethnography or personal stories never come into focus and the individuals and groups aren’t much more than paradigms or models, sometimes rather flimsy ones. It’s rich social history.

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