Gendered and racialized identities are jointly produced among social actors, often in ways that they cannot individually control. Drawing on ethnographic research in the city of Cusco, Peru and the surrounding region, I explore how gendered indigeneity is produced as a position of "alterity," or otherness, in strategic ways by young women. I focus on a theatrical performance, "History of Natasia," which was collaboratively created and performed by young mothers who live in an independent, NGO-run orphanage. I hold the words of characters in tension with the situation, a dramatic rendering of "a mother like us" for an audience of staff, children, and volunteers. By analyzing the unspoken assumptions and embedded dialogues that emerge between characters and performers in two scenes of the play, I demonstrate that social actors at once collude with institutional configurations of power and actively negotiate social hierarchies in tacit and explicit ways. The article contributes to ongoing discussions of indigenous identification and resistance in the Andean region by grounding these broader conversations in ordinary life and by tracing the micro-politics of interactions. Moreover, the article enriches understandings of the ways that young mothers, located in contexts saturated by power (an orphanage run by a humanitarian organization, for example), may themselves produce difference.


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pp. 111-141
Launched on MUSE
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