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Voices from the Global Margin

Voices from the Global Margin

William P. Mitchell
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    Voices from the Global Margin
    Book Description:

    Voices from the Global Marginlooks behind the generalities of debates about globalization to explore the personal impact of global forces on the Peruvian poor. In this highly readable ethnography, William Mitchell draws on the narratives of people he has known for forty years, offering deep insight into how they have coped with extreme poverty and rapid population growth-and their creation of new lives and customs in the process. In their own passionate words they describe their struggles to make ends meet, many abandoning rural homes for marginal wages in Lima and the United States. They chronicle their terror during the Shining Path guerrilla war and the government's violent military response. Mitchell's long experience as an anthropologist living with the people he writes about allows him to put the stories in context, helping readers understand the impact of the larger world on individuals and their communities. His book reckons up the human costs of the global economy, urging us to work toward a more just world.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79614-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-6)

    “¡Su pasaporte, Señor!”

    It was 1965 and I had just landed in Lima, the capital of Peru, the first stop on my way to the Andes, where I was to live for two years among Quechua-speaking peasants to gather data for my doctorate in anthropology. Since then fierce economic and demographic forces have undermined the lives of the people I met and those of other peasants, transforming Peru from a rural to an urban country. Peruvian peasants have long been tied to the global system, forced to mine the gold and silver sent to Spain in the colonial period, then...

  5. ONE Pablo and Claudia: PEASANT FARMING
    (pp. 7-36)

    “Come back tomorrow!”

    I was stuck in Lima, unable to get my nonimmigrant resident visa even after three months of going to and from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. I was disheartened but spent my time improving my Spanish, associating primarily with non–English speakers in order to do so.

    “They want a bribe,” a congressman from Ayacucho laughed. I had met him by chance, but by waving his letter, I not only entered the ministry after hours, but was issued a visa immediately.

    Visa in hand, I climbed the stairs into the propeller plane to Ayacucho City in January,...

  6. TWO Horacio and Benjamina: GENDER, RACE, ETHNICITY, AND CLASS
    (pp. 37-59)

    “Teach me how to say ‘shit’ in English!”

    Always a joker, Horacio Gutiérrez and his wife, Benjamina Enríquez (women retain their maiden names after marriage), were among the first people I met in San Pedro, and their warm welcome on my first day is still vivid. Their lives illuminate many of the gender, racial, and class hierarchies that structure San Pedrinosʼ relationships with one another and with other Peruvians. They also were major figures in the development of San Pedroʼs artisan commerce, a matter discussed in Chapter 3.

    On arriving in Ayacucho, I had heard that two Peace Corps volunteers...

    (pp. 60-75)

    In San Pedro ceramic figurines perch on roof peaks, like the chimney pots of English towns. Weathered by intense wind, rain, and sun, many of these small ceramic replicas of churches, deer, bulls, and tropical forest indigenes (chunchus) appear old, but San Pedrinos say they are recent, as are the tourist shops that sell them.

    When he was young, nobody had such ceramics, my adoptive father, Pablo, told me. Horacio Gutiérrez agreed, asserting that decorative ceramics were unknown before the mountain god,tayta urqu, taught the craft to a man named Mauricio in the 1920s.

    “He was apongo,” Horacio...

    (pp. 76-96)

    “When we speak of San Pedro we have to think of people in lots of different places, in Santa Anita, the tropical forest, themontaña, Lima, Punta Madera, and the cotton haciendas on the Coast,” a San Pedro university student told me in 1983. “Although we don’t have a single territory, we are a nation of San Pedrinos. We’re like the Jews when they didn’t have a territory, but they were a nation, just the same.”

    “Do you know any San Pedrinos who live along the coast?” I asked Valentina Rodríguez, a San Pedrina then living in Lima (see Chapter...

    (pp. 97-122)

    “Comadre, you’re going to be in my book too. And so’s [your husband].”

    “Don’t make me laugh!”

    “What would you like me to call you?”

    “Valentina! Yes, Valentina. I don’t know why but the name just came to me. I like it. And you’ll change the name of my husband? Let’s call him Roberto.”

    I first met Valentina Rodríguez in San Pedro in 1966, but she has lived in the United States on and off since 1991. When we first met, Valentina and I were friendly but not close. Mistakenly believing that there was some “authentic” Andean culture, I wanted...

    (pp. 123-146)

    “Yankee imperialist!”

    The university student who attacked me on the street in Ayacucho City in 1967 was drunk and I was not injured. Nor did his attack reflect the way in which I was generally treated. I was never afraid for my safety, and although I usually avoided the heavily politicized university campus, I often attended the all-night parties, thejaranas, of the anthropology students: talking, drinking, dancing, and singing Ayacucho’s melancholy music, as other students played guitar, some strumming, and some finger picking the intricate counterpoints to the vocal melody that marks Ayacucho’s famoushuaynos. But this stranger’s rage,...

    (pp. 147-171)

    Mitchell, before we begin, my daughter and son aren’t baptized and I want to be yourcompadre.¹

    I was startled by this request as I entered the house of El Comandante Tigre, Commander Tiger, the head of San Pedro’s militia.

    Do you agree to it or not?Allinchu o manachu?Will you be their godfather? When can we do it?

    I hesitated briefly, then responded, “I’ll do it, Allinmi.”

    Inwardly, I was troubled. People I had known for many years told me that he had killed twenty-three San Pedrinos in order to burglarize their homes and avenge personal disputes, even...

    (pp. 172-201)

    “Miguel, do you know anyone I can interview in thepuna?

    “Sí,tío. Anastasio Huamán. He lives in Rumi Puquio.”

    In 1974 I employed Claudia Velarde’s grandson Miguel to take me around the district in order to study the way San Pedrinos utilized their diverse mountain environment. Leaving San Pedro, Miguel and I crossed the upper maize fields to enter the deep-green eucalyptus plantation, the town’s only wooded section. Abandoning the pungent tree cover, we climbed higher. The air grew colder, and fields gave way to unpopulated communal pasturelands surrounded by dense shrubs and scrub, which provided much of San Pedro’s...

  13. NINE At the Margin of the Shifting World
    (pp. 202-220)

    In 1996, four years after the capture of most of the Shining Path leadership, I watched soldiers jog through the streets of Ayacucho City, chanting, “Terrorists, tonight we’re gonna enter your houses, eat your guts and suck your blood, rip off your heads, and tear out your eyes.”¹ The soldiers’ chant was a chilling remainder thatAyacuchois a Quechua word that means “corner of the dead,” the name derived from a site near the city that was the scene of a bloody pre-Columbian battle.

    In Lima, three years later (May 1999), several events reminded me once again of Peru’s...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 221-232)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 233-238)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-254)
  17. Index
    (pp. 255-268)