he questions I ask in this book were first raised in graduate seminars in
anthropology and history at the U niversi ty of Wisconsin-Madison.
anthropology, Frank Salomon and Ann Stoler (now at Michigan) were
my mentors, while in history Steven Feierman (now at Penn), Floren-
cia Mallon, and Steve Stern were significant teachers. Despite this advance
preparation, the unpredictable, lived-in experience of doing research in Peru
in those earth-shattering years of 1989-90 was decisive (probably in more
ways than I suspect) in shaping what this study has become. As the Berlin
Wall came tumbling down in Europe, the wall of an ultraorthodox Mao-
ism was going up in Peru. At the same time, the Peruvian Left was falling
in disarray, and the scholar-hero of that Left had just died, at a tragically
young age, of brain cancer. As the coffin of Alberto Flores Galindo was
carried out of the Casona of San Marcos University and enveloped in the
flurry of red flags (ofpUM, the United Mariateguist Party) and masked dia-
blada dancers, the Peruvian Left seemed to go with him. The world seemed
upside down, out of joint.
My project was disjointed, too. Originally designed with a significant
ethnographic and oral history dimension, I was soon obliged to discard the
field component when the (until then) largely silent war in and around
Huaylas-Ancash escalated in 1989 (it has since subsided). A series of politi-
cal assassinations, nightly bombings, power outages, armed attacks and
counterattacks in several peasant communities, and the temporary presence
of counterinsurgency patrols combined to produce a pervasive sense of fear
and suspicion during the months I spent in Huaraz, now largely confining
myself to the archives. Lima was by no means peaceful either. Car bomb-
ings and gunfire were not uncommon in our neighborhood. Legitimate
strikes and marches, as well as the Shining Path's so-called armed strikes,
often elicited the repressive response of military and anticrowd forces in the
streets adjacent to the archives in downtown Lima.
Somewhat to my surprise, reading in the archives was rarely alienating
from the current political and social climate. Reading often heightened my
sense of what was happening in the streets or in the hills, particularly when
tear gas wafted into the reading room of the National Library as a protest-
ing crowd was herded into waiting personnel carriers in the street below, or
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