Summary and Discussion: "The Andes Imagined: Indigenismo, Society, and Modernity" by Jorge Coronado
Throughout Jorge Coronado’s book, The Andes Imagined, the author provides an examination of Peru’s indigenista movement in the mid-twentieth century. Coronado explores how indigenismo served as both a “simultaneous entrenchment…and rejection of the status quo” in Peruvian society through his analysis of key social figures, which included: Jose Mariategui, Jose Escalante, Carlos Oquendo de Amat, and Martin Chambi (Coronado, 9). Coronado’s work contrasts sharply with prior scholarship on indigenismo, which “overwhelmingly centered on novels and book-length critical works” to describe the movement’s impact in Peru (Coronado, 15). As Coronado demonstrates, “the most resonant contributions to the indigenista effervescence” appeared in periodicals, poetry, photos, short-stories, and treatises” (Coronado, 15). Through an investigation of these literary devices, Coronado argues that indigenistas often “shaped the representation of the indio according to [their] particular discursive needs” and used “the indio to conjure modernity in early twentieth-century cultural production in the Andes” (Coronado, 15). By doing so, Coronado argues that these figures all sought to respond to “the challenge of conceptualizing a modernity…that might itself better accommodate the indio” (Coronado, 18). Through the poetry of Oquendo de Amat, the photography of Chambi, and the attempts by Mariategui and his newspaper, Labor, the author argues that indigenistas sought to “communicate ideas about how the Andes should enter into and reap the benefits of a modern future” through explicit references to the non-modern elements of Peruvian society (Coronado, 11).
Coronado’s work is both informative and compelling with its assertions, and relies on a number of primary (and secondary) sources to substantiate his claims. These sources include: poems, photographs, short-stories, novels, newspapers, and speeches. A major positive of Coronado’s work lies in his ability to interpret and explain each of the literary works that he examines in a meaningful manner. For example, Coronado’s inclusion of photographs in the latter half of the book offers his readers a tremendous (and impressive) visual aid that helps to formulate and defend his overall arguments. A clear downside to this work, however, is the lack of background information that Coronado provides his viewers to Peruvian history. In addition, Coronado limits his discussion to only a handful of artistic and literary devices. The inclusion of other artistic forms of expression (such as architecture, sculpture, music, etc.) would have aided his overall argument in regard to indigenismo.
All in all, I give Coronado's work 4/5 Stars and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Peruvian history during the twentieth-century. The contents of this work shed light on numerous aspects of Peruvian society that both amateur and professional historians can benefit from and appreciate. Definitely check it out if you get the opportunity, as this is a work that should not be ignored.
Questions to Facilitate Group Discussion:
1.) Was Mariategui’s attempt to establish a sense of class-consciousness amongst the indio a success? Was his attempt to galvanize indios through his newspaper misguided, given that most indios were illiterate and could not read?
2.) Are there any other literary and artistic forms that Coronado could have incorporated in his work?
3.) Did you find Coronado’s argument convincing, given that artistic works (poems, photographs, etc.) are often open to multiple interpretations pertaining to their meaning? In other words, how can Coronado argue (with certainty) that his interpretation regarding the meaning behind these works is completely accurate?
4.) What did you like most about this book? Were your surprised by any of the facts and figures presented by the author? Why or why not?
5.) Did you agree with the author's main argument(s) throughout this book? Why or why not?
6.) Was Coronado's work organized in a logical and cohesive manner? In what ways could the author have improved this book?
7.) Would you be willing to recommend this book to a friend or family member? Why or why not?
8.) Who was Coronado's intended audience with this work? Was it for scholars or non-academics? Can both appreciate the contents of this work?
Have you ever encountered the term "indigenismo" before reading this review?
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Coronado, Jorge. The Andes Imagined. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Larry Slawson