Abstract

In 2002 the transition government of Alejandro Toledo established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Peru. Its aim, like that of similar commissions created to deal with the democratization of a country after a period of violent intra-ethnic conflict and widescale abuses of human rights, was to record the testimonies of the victims and offer recommendations ranging from reparation to radical structural change in the governing of the country. Working alongside the Peruvian commission was El Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, one of Latin America's oldest and most impressive activist theatre collectives. To facilitate the truth-gathering process as well as publicly honor and remember the dead, five members of Yuyachkani traveled to the mountainous regions of the Andes most affected by the war. There, over a period of eight months, they held workshops, performed in the streets, and participated in local demonstrations. Through a range of stylized performance pieces and street-art installations directly related to the recent crisis and translated into an idiom accessible to all, they converted ordinary streets and plazas into ritual spaces for reflection and remembrance. In doing so, they dignified the victims and their relatives and transformed the personal stigma of abuse into the collective trauma of a nation needing to heal. This essay details the collaboration between Yuyachkani and the TRC and explores the critical intersection of secular ritual and "embodied memory" for the process of postwar reconstruction in Peru.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 395-414
Launched on MUSE
2004-09-28
Open Access
No
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