Cayetana Adianzen Ponce

  • Fellowship year:2018-2019
  • University: New York University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Latin America
  • Dissertation Title: Dividing Peru: The Dynamics of State, Race and Geography
  • Her dissertation examines the relationship between space, race and geography in Peruvian state construction, focusing in particular in the division between costal and Andean regions during the first half of the twentieth century. In doing so, her project deals with the prevalence of the discourse of a divided country in particular moments and practices, and their role in shaping and reproducing unequal development in the country.
    For Peruvians, the country is insurmountably divided in three geographically defined regions: the coast, the highlands and the jungle; each with its own racial type: mestizos in the coast, indigenous people in the highlands, natives in the jungle. My dissertation's main objective is to historicize this supposedly natural division and trace how it became an essential part of Peruvian society; following its history within programs directed at Andean communities and placing them into debates around state building and nation making. With those objectives in mind, I argue that national regional division was reinforced by state policies directed at "improving" living conditions in the highlands.
    Social policy, helped -unintentionally- to consolidate a vision of a poor and desolate indian that defines Peruvian nation making until this day. Although racialized state making -that is the historization of race and its later implementation as part of social policy- has received considerable attention in Latin American literature, it's relation to particular regions or spaces has been neglected. I propose, on the contrary, that the racialization of the Andean Highlands was a constitutive element in the discourse of the Peruvian intellectuals, social scientists, and consequently of bureaucrats and policy makers which had a directed impact in national development. By combining a critical approach to social sciences and state formation I will be able to unpack how discourses about the nations were acted upon and what effect they had on social and political change.