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The Rural State

The Rural State
Making Comunidades, Campesinos, and Conflict in Peru's Central Sierra

A study of the intersection of rural populations, state formation, and the origins of political conflict in Peru.

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

January 2023
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312 pages | 6 x 9 | 7 b&w photos, 1 map |

On the eve of the twentieth century, Peru seemed like a profitable and yet fairly unexploited country. Both foreign capitalists and local state makers envisioned how remote highland areas were essential to a sustainable national economy. Mobilizing Andean populations lay at the core of this endeavor. In his groundbreaking book, The Rural State, Javier Puente uncovers the surprising and overlooked ways that Peru’s rural communities formed the political nation-state that still exists today.

Puente documents how people living in the Peruvian central sierra in the twentieth century confronted emerging and consolidating powers of state and capital and engaged in an ongoing struggle over increasingly elusive subsistence and autonomies. Over the years, policy, politics, and social turmoil shaped the rural, mountainous regions of Peru until violent unrest, namely the Shining Path and other revolutionary groups, unveiled the extent, limits, and fractures of a century-long process of rural state formation. Examining the conflicts between one rural community and the many iterations of statehood in the central sierra of Peru, The Rural State offers a fresh perspective of how the Andes became la sierra, how pueblos became comunidades, and how indígenas became campesinos.

  • Gracias
  • Introduction: Bringing Back the Central Sierra
  • 1. Reimagining the Peruvian Andes
  • 2. Making Indigenous Communities
  • 3. Reconciling the State and Communities
  • 4. Reforming without Revolution
  • 5. Making Campesino Communities
  • 6. Tilling an Agrarian Conflict
  • Conclusion: Eroding Rural Communities
  • Glossary
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Javier Puente is an associate professor of Latin American and Latino/a studies at Smith College.