2 andean truths
The distribution of the Mapa de memoria performs one of many acts of resistance to more official (state and non-governmental) attempts to construct post-conflict Peru as a reconciled (or at least reconciling) nation that has moved beyond the horrors of the Shining Path era. This study considers others, creative cultural products that process the period and its aftermath and that shed light on essential questions of race, ethnicity, and national culture(s). I am particularly (though not exclusively) interested in creative works produced after the 2003 release of the Final Report of Peru’s Truth Commission, and in what these cultural products can tell us about trauma, truth, recovery, and reconciliation that official, state-generated narratives cannot or do not. I also ask how these creative works—be they fiction, theater, film, visual arts, or hybrid genres—can help us read the processes and results of this and other transitional justice efforts, particularly in multiethnic societies navigating transitional justice endeavors. How does ethnicity figure in efforts to articulate a post-traumatic national identity? In radically heterogeneous contexts, how can art help national subjects dialogue in a manner that does not subordinate the discourse of some to the terms another?
The publication of the CVR’s Final Report in 2003 initiated a new struggle (or renewed and reinvigorated an ancient one) over national discourse and the right to define national identity, set the terms of citizenship, and construct and consecrate a historical memory. I argue that while the CVR and certain dominant cultural products that work in tandem produce a largely officialist discourse of truth and provide accessible images for mass national consumption (all the while conscious of their international audience), what many creative artists provide are visions of the period that resist consumption, challenge dominant understandings of the conflict, reframe and reinterpret CVR findings and human rights discourse, and question the nation’s ability to overcome its collective trauma without seriously reconsidering dominant cultural paradigms, that is, without engaging an epistemological decolonization, as theorized by Aníbal Quijano, Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, and others. I contend that the Peruvian Truth Commission (despite its best intentions) locates the atrocities of the times within a juridical and therapeutic discourse that marginalizes indigenous and rural Andean experiences and eschews potential acts of reconciliation and national reconstruction based on Andean cultural values and social practices. In this sense, I find the transitional justice process in Peru yet another in a long series of what Boaventura de Sousa Santos terms ‘“civilizing,” liberating, or emancipatory projects aimed at reducing the understandings of the world to the logic of Western epistemology.’2 Can art that emphasizes Peru’s ‘epistemological diversity’ or its complex ‘ecology of knowledges’3 help that nation, presumably to ameliorate long-standing inequalities’ (Milton and Ulfe, ‘Promoting Peru,’ 208). 2 Boaventura de Sousa Santos, ‘Introduction’, xxxiii. 3 With these terms, I acknowledge my theoretical debt to theories of decoloniality and