In Peru, there are many indigenous Peruvians who are proud of their Incan heritage; into the 21st century, they have maintained the dress, traditions, and land of their ancestors. At the same time however, many Indians that have moved into the cities have begun identifying themselves as mestizo or even white if their pigmentation lets them get away with it. Due to the long colonial rule in the country, there is a pigmentocracy in Peru where whites and mestizos sit at the top as the wealthiest and more powerful group in society and the indigenous population (though larger in number) is often considered to be a group of second-class citizens. This had caused the indigenous population to suffer less access to education, healthcare, and jobs. One of the starkest facts that demonstrate this is that the mean income for non-indigenous citizens is twice the mean income for indigenous workers. In hopes of a more prosperous future, many Indians move out of their indigenous homeland and into cities like Lima and Cuzco. With that migration, they create a new mestizo identity so that they might avoid the discrimination that often comes with being indigenous. On the other hand, there are many who stay in their homeland and have fought tirelessly to protect the land against the government and corporations. They seek to protect the land from those who wish to destroy it in favor of timber and mining; many of these efforts have lead to deaths amongst both parties.
Due to the ‘taboo’ of being indigenous in Peru, there is a growing divide between those who share a full-blooded Incan heritage. Indigenous Peruvians are split, with some risking death to protect their homeland and others too ashamed to identify with their past. In this paper, I will look at why some indigenous people have felt they need to hide their heritage and why others have died to protect their homeland. I will also examine how this cultural gap has been caused by structural violence as defined by anthropologists Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois.
Structural violence is a part of what Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois call the violence continuum. Consisting of structural violence, symbolic violence, and everyday violence, it is a way to understand violence in society. The structural violence we’re concerned with is defined as the hierarchies created in society that separate groups of people based off race, gender, etc and lead to different groups of people having unequal access to resources . Like many other Latin American countries, Peru puts their indigenous population on the bottom tier of the hierarchy which leads them unable to see the same kind of prosperity and rights that other members of society enjoy.
Before delving into the ethnically derived divisions of today’s Peru, it is important to briefly look into what has created this hierarchy. Largely discussed in my cultural complexity paper is the domination of the Spaniards in Peru from the 1500s until the 1800s. During this time, the...