Lima

After leaving Cusco, I spent my final week in Peru in Lima to do some final research for my project.  This mostly consisted of visits to libraries, museums and archaeological sites as well as communication with the contacts I wished to interview while in Lima.  A prominent Quechua linguist, Rodolfo Cerron-Palomino, was out of the country while I was in Lima, but luckily I have been able to secure an e-mail interview with him in the coming weeks.  Furthermore, my original contact in the Ministerio de Cultura has changed jobs since the last time I spoke with him, so I now have the contact information for his replacement and am awaiting confirmation for an e-mail interview with her as well. 

My first day in Lima consisted of a visit to the archaeological site of Pachacamac, a pre-Incan temple and city which was later conquered and expanded by the Incan Empire.  The site contains a small museum housing artifacts from the various cultures that inhabited this region as well as the ruins themselves, which can be toured on foot; protected and operated by the Ministerio de Cultura, which (according to its website) intends to have it declared a cultural heritage site.  Pachacamac would be one more pre-Hispanic site officially promoted as part of the nation’s process of self-definition through its past ties to these cultures.  The next day was spent at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, where I visited the main library as well as the social sciences library to collect more bibliographical information.  I was able to find a great deal of information on nearly all aspects of my project, especially Southern Peruvian Quechua and its representation in society, Andean identity and the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua.  The following day, I did the same at the Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos; while the library is much smaller than the PUCP’s, I was still able to find information, and with much greater ease due to the fact that the entire collection is specialized for Andean studies.  Wednesday was a Catholic holiday (meaning very little was open), so I spent the day reading and taking notes on the materials I had collected.  Thursday was another reading day, and Friday consisted of a visit to the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú (National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru), one of the most important research museums in Peru.  This large collection contains artifacts from pre-Hispanic civilizations all across Peru, including the Nazca, the Wari, and of course, the Incas.  Its mission, according to its website, is to “conserve and spread the cultural heritage of Peru” (translated), meaning that it, too, participates in a kind of national narrative.  The museum moves chronologically, meaning that it ends with the Incas, and the narrations on the walls tell the story of a powerful empire that was able to consolidate a large territory under its rule and begin a new order.  This type of presentation is omnipresent in Peru — there exists a distinct pride in and glorification of the Incas, as well as an emphasis on their place in Peruvian history.  It is clear to me that the Incas and the various aspects of their culture (including Quechua), though they were stamped out by the Spaniards nearly 500 years ago, are still very much alive in Peru today in the form of a national identity.  Down to the name of its national soda, Inca Kola, modern-day Peru actively presents itself as the inheritor of an Incan past, a unique protector of a chapter in South American history.

Now that the majority of my research is done, I will be awaiting my final interviews and finishing up my reading in the coming weeks.  Once I have that information, I will consolidate my findings and post them here.