Knowledge and Learning in the Andes: Ethnographic Perspectives

Knowledge and Learning in the Andes: Ethnographic Perspectives

Knowledge and Learning in the Andes: Ethnographic Perspectives

Knowledge and Learning in the Andes: Ethnographic Perspectives

Synopsis

The aim of this book is to explore the current research into the ways in which Andean peoples create, transmit, maintain and transform their knowledge in culturally significant ways, and how processes of teaching and learning relate to these. The contributions, from eminent researchers in anthropology, sociology, cultural studies and linguistics, include cross-disciplinary approaches, and cover a diverse geographic area from Ecuador to Peru, Bolivia and Northern Chile. The case studies reflect on the variously harmonious and conflictive relationships between knowledge, power, communicative media and cultural identities in Andean societies, from within local, national and global perspectives.

Excerpt

The communicative divide between Spanish invaders and Inka holders of power, described by numerous eyewitnesses to the scene at Cajamarca in November 1532, acquired a particular symbolic potency in Andean cultural memory as post-Conquest history unfolded. Over the intervening centuries, the new social classes emerging under colonial and republican regimes have repositioned themselves with regard to the event, evoking the Spanish Conquest of the Inkas in popular culture from diverse political, spatial and temporal standpoints, right down to the present day. One of the best-known examples of such cultural expression is the popular drama generically known as the Tragedia del fin de Atahuallpa (‘Tragedy of the End of Atahuallpa’; hereafter Tragedia), most easily accessible in published form in Jesus Lara's edition (Lara 1989). in this chapter I shall use Lara's text as a focal point around which to explore the way ideas about seeking, acquiring and processing knowledge are expressed in the Quechua language. On the one hand, the play depicts the Spanish Conquest of the Inkas in the idiom of communication breakdown. On the other hand, it raises issues about the ways in which knowledge of history – in particular the Conquest of Peru is produced in cultural tradition. Accounts of that history vary according to the social, temporal and spatial perspectives of the storytellers, and Lara's text offers a particularly ambiguous view. in spite of, or perhaps because of, its enigmatic origins, and the questions it raises about cultural ‘ownership’, Lara's version of the Tragedia lends itself to analysis from the point of view of what I shall call the ‘colonisation of knowledge’ in the Andes.

In the course of this analysis, such questions arise as: whose history is this? whose language is this variety of Quechua? and whose knowledge is it expressing? Accordingly, the ways in which Lara's play expresses ideas about knowledge in the Quechua language are not straightforward, or unitary in meaning, but have to be analysed critically.

The social contexts of production of knowledge that I have in mind in approaching my subject are rural and urban provincial areas of Peru and Bolivia where speakers of Quechua and Spanish have for many centuries . . .

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