Past Dialogues about Race:
An Introduction to the Present
La violencia etnica existe en todas las sociedades que como la nuestra
albergan culturas y tradiciones diferentes. (Ethnic violence exists in
any society which, like ours, harbors different cultures and
traditions.)-MARIO VARGAS LLOSA,
Indian peasants live in such a primitive way that communication is
practically impossible. It is only when they move to the cities that
they have the opportunity to mingle with the other Peru. The price
they must pay for integration is high - renunciation of their culture,
their language, their beliefs, their traditions, and customs, and the
adoption of the culture of their ancient masters. After one generation
they become mestizos. They are no longer Indians.
En nuestro pais la raza ya no manda, ahora manda la inteligencia, la
educaci6n, la cultura. (In our country, race does not rule anymore;
instead, intelligence, education, and culture do.)
In Peru everyone accepts that social discrimination is pervasive, and
almost everybody would explain and even justify such practices in
terms of "cultural differences." Apparently innocuous and inciden-
tal, this social convention is at the heart of the Peruvian racial for-
mation (Omi and Winant,
Peruvian modern
discourses that acquit racist practices and even legitimize them by
appealing to culture are integral to the political process through
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