|The corner of the living: Ayacucho on the eve of the Shining Path insurgency. North Carolina, 2012. 286p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780807835470, $65.00; ISBN 9780807872192 pbk, $29.95. Reviewed in 2012sep CHOICE.
|Peru's bloody 1980-92 Shining Path guerrilla insurgency, which resulted in 69,000 deaths, has long been the domain of study of anthropologists, political scientists, and journalists. Increasingly, historians are contributing lucid analyses of the roots of the conflict (see, for example, Jaymie Patricia Heilman, Before the Shining Path; CH, May'11, 48-5272). Combining archival with ethnographic research, historian La Serna (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) attempts to explain why the indigenous peasantry in the Ayacucho village of Chuschi became the birthplace of the armed struggle, while another village, Huaychao, supported the counterinsurgent peasant patrols known as ronda campesinas. Rather than political ideology or socioeconomic conflicts, La Serna contends that differing histories and cultural attitudes toward morally deviant behavior explain the contrasting responses. The Shining Path rebels gained the most support where traditional authority and justice systems had broken down, and faced fervent opposition where they persisted. This thoughtful, careful local study seeks to move beyond static, essentialized images of the indigenous peasantry that have long plagued Andean studies, even as the focus on cultural conflicts to the exclusion of structural systems of oppression tends to create new stereotypes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. -- M. Becker, Truman State University
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