Modernity at the Edge of Empire: State, Individual, and Nation in the Northern Peruvian Andes, 1885-1935

By David Nugent | Go to book overview

8 The Disintegration of the Casta Order

The señoritas of the upper class, and all the members of the upper class, were people who always looked down their noses at the rest of us, but in a very short period of time the moment arrived in which the high society of Amazonas left [for Lima], and only a few [of the upper class] remained. Most preferred to leave the region entirely rather than mix with us. [They said to one another,] "We must move to Lima, so we don't have to be among the cholos, the Indios, the runa!" And from that point on the [remaining] señoritas of the upper class began dancing with me! Imagine that! We were all dancing together! And only a few years prior there was none of that. And afterward we [the Apristas] talked about how we had changed the mentality of the people. It was as if we were living in a different epoch!

A ntonio Valdez Vasquez, muleteer and Aprista, talking about the rapid changes in Chachapoyas society during the early 1930s

Within the space of a few short years, the casta-based political order--with its congerie of material, behavioral, and symbolic markers of privilege and distinction--disintegrated in the Chachapoyas region. This chapter analyzes the interacting set of national and local forces and relationships that initiated this breakdown. It deals particularly with two interrelated processes: the emergence of a key transitional moment when those who had been involved in the "movements of democratización" (see Chapters 6 and 7) rose up and seized political power, and their subsequent attempts to convert the social order they had formerly imagined into reality. In other words, a new political space was

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Modernity at the Edge of Empire: State, Individual, and Nation in the Northern Peruvian Andes, 1885-1935
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Introduction Tradition, Modernity, Nation, and State 1
  • 2 - State, Region, and Casta 23
  • 3 - The Contradictions of Casta Rule 58
  • 4 - Casta Contradictions Historicized 104
  • 5 - The Cultural Politics of Casta Rule 142
  • 6 - Modernity as Emancipation I 174
  • 7 - Modernity as Emancipation II 232
  • 8 - The Disintegration of the Casta Order 256
  • 9 - Conclusion Modernity at the Edge of Empire 308
  • Reference Matter 325
  • Notes 327
  • Bibliography 375
  • Index 395
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