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Culture Interrupted: Assessing the Effects of the Shining Path Internal Armed Conflict in the Peruvian Highlands

Description: This study was a qualitative examination of social, economic, political, and cultural dilemmas that face Peruvian survivors of the Communist Shining Path Revolution, an internal armed conflict that cut a swath of terror and destruction during the years 1980-2000, with a reported loss of 69,000 residents either killed or considered “disappeared.” The conflict affected primarily poor, uneducated Andean campesinos and townspeople in the highland areas of the Ayacucho District. In this study, I looked closely at the responsibilities of both government and NGOs in the facilitation of readjustment during and after times of instability. In addition, specific challenges the elderly, women and campesinos face in a post-conflict world are analyzed and possible social policies are discerned that might be developed to better implement the transition to a new form of community. Ideas that emerged from this research may assist policy shapers in other less developed countries involved in similar conflicts by examining how Peru dealt with its own issues. Methodology included participant observation and interviews with long-term Ayacuchan residents who stayed-in-place during war time, along with migrants who went to live in shantytowns in more urban areas. The government-mandated Truth and Reconciliation Commission report serves as a framework as it outlined those ultimately deemed responsible and detailed what those affected may expect in the way of appropriate reparations and compensation in the future. Much emphasis is given to the emerging role of women and how ensuing shifts of gender specific cultural roles may affect familial and communal bonds in small-scale societies.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Van Wye, Kalynn Hicks