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13 Todos Somos Iguales, Todos Somos Incas Dilemmas of Afro-Peruvian Citizenship and Inca Whiteness in Peru Shane Greene On December 7, 2008, a day known as Popular Leaders Day in Peru, Peruvian president Alan García provided radio talk-show hosts with an incredibly juicy newsbyte. In the midst of a long diatribe against pesky NGO emissaries, he revealed his color-coded, classist vision of Peru’s civil society:“I don’t like all the white yuppies involved in leftist politics. I like the copper-colored men who are the real Peruvians that fight for justice” (El Comercio 2008). Multiple members of the press blasted him for the overtly racialized remarks. His use of a term such as pituco (the closest translation I can come up with is “white yuppie”) in reference to the leaders of large NGOs involves multiple registers.1 The term connotes simultaneously class, race, style, language, and urban geographic districts (particularly within metropolitan Lima). And his reference to men with cobrizo-colored skin is a clear historical reference to indigenous Andeans. Garcia’s comment apparently constructs whiteness and Andeanness as a contrast. Indeed they often do contrast in the Peruvian context. But upon further reflection about the history of race and power in Peru, this simple white/ Andean dichotomy breaks down and Garcia’s comment could in fact be read differently.Garcia clearly speaks of an abstractAndean subject: one who is colorcoded in racial terms but who is also a“real Peruvian”and thus is at the center of his nationalist discourse. In other words, he speaks of an abstract Andean actor who is central to Peru’s current liberal democratic operations and neoliberal economic policies: an actor thought to somehow be involved in some way at the very centers of power and prestige that define“real”Peruvianness. In short, he speaks of an Andean subject who in at least one of many discursive and contradictory manifestations is a representation of the Peruvian nation. As such, Garcia’s copper-colored man is not nearly as distant from the discourse on whiteness as one might believe. Indeed, I will argue that in one particular representation,Andeanness and whiteness are deeply connected in Peru’s  Dilemmas of Afro-Peruvian Citizenship and Inca Whiteness in Peru  283 national history and the convoluted discourses of race and power found there. The central idea rests on an abstraction of Andeans as the inheritors of Peru’s coveted Inca past: the past that serves as the core narrative of what Peru as a nation is and who Peruvians as a people are. The Inca legacy, in other words, is central to discourses of power, nation, and citizenship in Peru and in some measure always has been (see Greene 2007a).Following the work of thinkers such as Alberto Flores Galindo (1988),and my earlier work on this topic (Greene 2007a, 2009), I argue that the abstract representation of “the Inca” in Peru serves as a central discourse of nation, civilization, and citizenship. It is thus necessarily conflated with discourses of whiteness, modernity, democracy, and liberalism in contemporary Peru. It also serves to make invisible multiple other forms of postcolonial ethnic difference and the subaltern forms of citizenship that certain members of Peruvian civil society are currently using as they make claims on the state. This includes everyday Andeans (i.e., those envisioned by the Peruvian elite as the downtrodden, impure leftovers of a glorious Inca past) and native Amazonians, who are often written out of Peru’s Andean-centric history altogether. It also includes Afro-Peruvians, whose different historical trajectory leads them to be largely invisible in the Peruvian imagination. The status of Afro-Peruvians is particularly difficult to visualize from the point of view of Peru’s national narrative because they are represented as both not Inca and not Indian: neither as contributors to Peru’s national“civilization”nor indigenous to Peruvian soil. This historical invisibility of Peru’s various racialized groups has become the subject of greater debate in recent years. This has resulted in a fair amount of political discussion and a few, relatively superficial, legal changes. Peru’s current context, like that of many other countries in the Latin American region, is now being shaped by the widespread adoption of a global discourse on multiculturalism and anti-racism. Originally inspired in large part by the mobilization of various social movements and civil society actors, Latin American states throughout the region now seek to respond. They are doing so...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813042695
Related ISBN
9780813037561
MARC Record
OCLC
793166733
Pages
382
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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