Tag Archives: Lima

An Eighty-Five Year-Old Case of Plagiarism

Posted by Amy Obermeyer, doctoral student in Comparative Literature at NYU

My time in the archives at the Biblioteca Nacional de Perú , like most archival work was filled with its shares of disappointment big and small—of missing materials and dead-end leads, of bad ideas and boring ones—alongside the daily monotony of combing through ancient periodicals and government documents, finding largely the useful, but expected and the unsurprising.

Yet there was also the occasional serendipitous encounter. I’d like to make use of this, my last dispatch from Lima, to describe one such event.

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“Un caso sensacional y atentatorio a la soberanía del País”

Posted by Amy Obermeyer, doctoral student in Comparative Literature

On May 13, 1940, a series of anti-Japanese riots took place in Lima. The tumult continued for days. Despite massive violence and unrest, police took no action to quell the tension; ten were dead, damages totaling $6 million were reported, affecting in total 620 households, and 316 individuals repatriated to Japan as a result (Riger Tsurumi 20; Higashide 110). Given the timeline, this is perhaps not entirely surprising; as a result Japanese aggression in the Asia-Pacific War, as well as rising tensions during World War II broadly, anti-Japanese sentiment was smoldering all over the Americas and beyond. Continue reading

Modern and Stateless: A Case Study of the International, Racialized Modernity of the Peruvian Nikkei

Posted by Amy Obermeyer, doctoral student in Comparative Literature at NYU

The history of Japanese immigration to, and their descendants in, Peru is a vexed story that seem more at home in a spy novel of “international intrigue” than in the pages of academic scholarship. It begins in the late-nineteenth century on a stranded ship with a “cargo” of Chinese indentured workers bound for the now-illicit Peruvian “coolie” trade, becomes entangled with extraordinary rendition during World War II, and rises to international attention at the end of the twentieth century, with the ascent of an infamous dictator who, during campaign appearances, was photographed in turn carrying samurai swords and dressed in “traditional” Incan apparel. While such incidents may appear as merely interesting or perhaps salacious episodes in the continuously-developing process of global capitalism, they are not singular. Rather than being an exceptional case, the trajectory of Peruvian-Japanese relations underscores the systemic paradoxes at the heart of liberalism and modernity, paradoxes that cannot fully be accounted for within a traditional area studies framework, which typically separates Japanese imperialism from the historically subaltern position of Japanese Latin Americans. These paradoxes have remained partially-hidden specifically in the Peruvian Nikkei context by way of a conjuncture of state interventions and academic limitations. Yet to elide the multifocal world-historical context of these events is not only to subtly reify the dispossession and physical erasure of scores of individuals at the conjuncture of three sovereign states, but also to miss potential insights into the rationale of modernity in the global context. Seiichi Higashide’s 2000 testimonio, Adios to Tears, however, provides a means of positioning such paradoxes within the multiple and sometimes competing histories, while reinscribing subjectivity in a world-systems context.

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Imminent Displacement: the Shipibo in Lima


About 1000 Shipibos live in Cantagallo, a shanty-town in the Rimac district of Lima, Peru.  The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous group that live near the Ucayali river in the Amazon region of Peru. They make up about 10-15% of Cantagallo, the rest being populations that migrated from other areas in Peru, particularly the Andean regions.  Although Cantagallo began being populated in the 1970s, the Shipibos began arriving there in the year 2000.

I started my first week of living with a family in Cantagallo on June 14.  I arrived close to 5:00 and tecnocumbia music was already blaring.  A male voice announced father’s day celebrations on a loudspeaker that the whole community could hear.  He spoke in Shipibo, with only a few words of Spanish seeping through.

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Bagua Not Forgotten


June 5 marked five years since the bloodshed in the Peruvian city of Bagua, situated in the Amazon. The Peruvian government negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with the United States that came into effect in February of 2009. It gave mining corporations special rights to access the Amazon for oil exploration and subsequent exploitation.  There were numerous protests that year from multiple indigenous groups, like the awajun and wampis. In June, President Alan Garcia declared a state of emergency and sent in the Peruvian National Police to stop the protests.  At least 33 people were killed, including members of the police and indigenous groups.  Although some politicians resigned their posts, like the then Prime Minister Yehude Simon, no politicians have been brought to justice as being the intellectual perpetrators of the crime. Many Peruvians now view both the police and the awajun and wampis peoples as victims of a game in which the players care much more for the benefit of transnationals and their own pockets than the lives of “second class citizens,” as  President Garcia defined them when asked what he thought of the happenings on June 5, 2009.

Starting at around 5:00 at the Plaza San Martin, a wide array of different organizations began a a demonstration in commemoration of the day of the Earth and the fifth anniversary of the bloodshed at Bagua.


Many different leaders spoke to the crowd of about 100 people at the Plaza San Martin that evening. Between every speaker the crowd cried out in unison: “Conga no va! Conga no va! Toromocho tampoco! Toromocho tampoco!”  The first is a protest against a gold and copper mining project led by Newmont Corporation in Cajamarca, the second a copper and molybdenum mining project led by Minera Chinalco Peru.  Newmont is U.S.-owned, while Chinalco’s roots go all the way to China.

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“Nación” en la Lima (post)colonial

Velayos - Peru - LimaEn esta entrada quisiera dar cuenta de mi indagación en algunos textos que registran la manera en que el término nación fue usado en cultura política de la ciudad de Lima desde finales del siglo XVIII hasta las primeras décadas del siglo XIX. En el Mercurio Peruano, uno de los impresos periódicos más importantes de la Ilustración americana, se afirma que la finalidad del texto es la “ilustración de las naciones” difundiendo el “amor nacional”, ya que lo que “más nos interesa es saber lo que pasa en nuestra Nación”. No obstante, se señala también que “La Europa, maestra de las naciones que pueblan el resto del Universo, no ha olvidado estos países, destinando naturalistas que los examinen” (43: 72).

Por otra parte, en su “Carta a los españoles americanos” (1791) , Viscardo y Guzmán emplea más bien el término patria para referirse a la terroritorialidad y a la comunidad de pertenencia de los americanos, mientras que el término nación es usado principalmente para referir a España o a la comunidad política de la monarquía en su conjunto. Así, en un recuerdo de las cortes españolas antiguas –un recuerdo que en cierta manera anticipa a la s cortes de Cádiz-, Vizcardo señala que tales cortes “representaban a la Nación en sus diferentes clases y debían ser las depositarias y las guardianas de los derechos del pueblo” (1998,I: 211). Continue reading