Krogel, Alison. Food, Power, and Resistance in the Andes: Exploring Quechua Verbal and Visual Narratives

By Reckley Vallejos, Alice Ruth | Chasqui, November 2012 | Go to article overview
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Krogel, Alison. Food, Power, and Resistance in the Andes: Exploring Quechua Verbal and Visual Narratives


Reckley Vallejos, Alice Ruth, Chasqui


Krogel, Alison. Food, Power, and Resistance in the Andes: Exploring Quechua Verbal and Visual Narratives. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2011. 241 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7391-4759-7.

In Food, Power, and Resistance in the Andes, Krogel explores food's historical role and influence in resistance efforts, its symbolic significance especially in verbal, but also in literary narratives as well as in artistic media, in culinary witchcraft, agricultural infrastructure, the marketplace, and globalization, in short, in all that drives food production, or food-landscapes (Krogel 3). As a symbol of Krogel's organizing structure, her cover photo deftly encompasses the range of topics she studies. A well-worn female Andean hand stretches itself out over the mound of potatoes she sells in the marketplace. The image is striking because there is little to distinguish the woman's hand from the potatoes she touches. Her nails and knuckles, discolored indentations on work- and age-swollen fingers, appear as potato eyes and stem scars, her hand yet another potato on the table and, nonetheless, her hand the force that moves and controls markets and sustainability, her hand the agent of change.

As one of several highlighted staples of Andean diet, including quinoa, maize, uchu--chile or aji, and cuy--guinea pig, Krogel devotes a short but fascinating section of her first chapter to potatoes. For all of these important staples, she traces their historical and economic import, includes commentary on them in historical narratives, and their etymology. Perhaps it is no surprise that the humble potato, initially-scorned by the Europeans, proves itself throughout history to be what the Incan gods promised, both nutritional savior in many of the several thousand edible varieties of tuber, able to withstand the harsh Andean highland, and respected adversary in its toxic varieties. Krogel refers to Hans Horkheimer's 1973 study on Alimentacion y obtencion de alimentos en el Peru prehispanico, saying that "the monetary value obtained of potato harvests obtained in Europe over the past 150 years have been calculated as surpassing more than three times over the value of all the precious metals extracted from Peru and sent back to the Old World" (24).

Andean resistance to power struggles from the Conquest on through the contemporary period, is often tempered by the desire to maintain cultural traditions. Whereas market structures did not exist in original Andean indigenous communities--in favor of vertical microclimates (Murra 2002) in which ayllu communities exchanged, rather than traded foods, based on the needs and resources of the communities--the newly-conquered people of the colonial period "quickly became adept participants" (Krogel 77) at using Spanish markets to support their own agricultural and economic systems "as a tactic which provided Quechua families with enough currency to satisfy [Spanish] tribute requirements without having to pay with their own agricultural products" (77).

Ultimately, years after the colonial period, the marketplace thrives, with women's participation in the marketplace outweighing that of the male.

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