This project started ten years ago, almost to the day, when I wandered through
Ayacucho’s central plaza on the late afternoon prior to the Peruvian Truth Com-
mission’s arrival the next day to submit their Final Report. Colorful carpets (al-
fombras) made by schoolchildren and local groups from flower petals, chalk, and
other materials surrounded the plaza, posterboards displayed images of the con-
flict and visitors’ comments about them, in the corner stood an enormous stage
in a style of a wooden triptych retablo. Nearby, an exhibition displayed some of
the entries for an art contest on memories of the internal conflict. On this day,
and those that followed, I was struck by how visually rich the conflict was and
its aftermath as Peruvians engaged with their recent fractured past. As an his-
torian, I wondered what stories and memories emerged from these representa-
tions. A few of us were pondering similar questions at the time, Olga González,
Jonathan Ritter, María Eugenia (Makena) Ulfe, and Víctor Vich, among others.
Soon it became clear that the range and array needed a cooperative and collec-
tive approach to begin to understand the myriad of cultural responses to the
conflict. This edited volume is the result. However, the work is far from com-
plete. A whole new generation of Peruvians and Peruvianists are continuing to
ask about the cultural impact and means of broaching Peru’s conflict.
The intellectual origins of this book also trace back to a workshop held on
Robben Island, organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Legacies of
Authoritarianism (loa) Research Circle. With its infamous history as a former
leper colony, holding spot for immigrants, and later apartheid prison, the island
has since transformed into a memory museum and education center. Here in
June 2000, activists, artists, practitioners, former and future truth commission-
ers, academics, journalists, and students from around the world came together
to reflect on the dark heritage of authoritarian rule. Over the course of those few
Previous Page Next Page