Conventional views portray noncombatants, such as Indigenous peasants, as helpless victims of warring sides in armed conflicts. However, they are often resistant actors who switch support from one side to another to protect their community. This talk examines Peru’s internal armed conflict (1980-1992) between Maoist Shining Path insurgents and government forces from a micro-dynamic of wartime violence and resistance in the Andean village of Huamanquiquia. It asks, how did the Indigenous peasants shift from supporting to rejecting the insurgents and maintain their resistance against them? Based on original archival research, including the community’s record books, called libro de actas, and oral history interviews with wartime peasant leaders, I assert that the Shining Path’s brutal attack on Huamanquiquia’s authorities and local affairs was the breaking point in the village, prompting the switch in support from insurgency to counterinsurgency. This led Huamanquiquia, along with its neighboring communities, to organize a large multi-communal coalition, called the Pacto de Alianza entre Pueblos, to defend their communities against incursions by the Shining Path guerrillas. Although encouraged by the Peruvian state and its agents, but often on their own initiative, around a dozen peasant communities embraced this anti-guerrilla coalition from 1983 to 1992. This intercommunal coalition and the concomitant resistance–combined with the armed forces’ strategy–ultimately defeated the Shining Path in the early 1990s.
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Talks in this series will be followed by discussion, including a Q&A session with the audience.
Chair: Karl Jacoby, Allan Nevins Professor of American History
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