A b o u t t h e s e r i e s
Latin America Otherwise: Languages, Empires, Nations is a critical series. It
aims to explore the emergence and consequences of concepts used to define
“Latin America” while at the same time exploring the broad interplay of
political, economic, and cultural practices that have shaped Latin Ameri-
can worlds. Latin America, at the crossroads of competing imperial designs
and local responses, has been construed as a geocultural and geopolitical
entity since the nineteenth century. This series provides a starting point
to redefine Latin America as a configuration of political, linguistic, cul-
tural, and economic intersections that demands a continuous reappraisal
of the role of the Americas in history, and of the ongoing process of glob-
alization and the relocation of people and cultures that have characterized
Latin America’s experience. Latin America Otherwise: Languages, Empires,
Nations is a forum that confronts established geocultural constructions,
rethinks area studies and disciplinary boundaries, assesses convictions of
the academy and of public policy, and correspondingly demands that the
practices through which we produce knowledge and understanding about
and from Latin America be subject to rigorous and critical scrutiny.
In 1969, Peru, under the rule of a military dictatorship, initiated one of
the most extensive projects of agrarian reform witnessed in Latin America.
Revolutionary in its goals, Peru’s land reform eliminated colonial legacy
relations of personal servitude and coerced labor; it also initiated a pro-
cess of land distribution aimed at reversing centuries-old patterns of con-
centrated land ownership. This project was so far-reaching that its impact
is comparable to the abolition of slavery in North America. Yet, over the
following three decades, much of this program, including the creation of
agrarian cooperatives and cultural initiatives promoting native tradition,
was all but abandoned. Moreover, during these decades, Peru imploded,
trapped in the throes of a civil war spawned by Shining Path and enflamed
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