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Burro Bombs and Hanging Dogs: Political Violence, Haunted Archives, and the More-Than-Human in Peru

Event Type
Center for Advanced Study
Levis Faculty Center, Room 210 (919 W. Illinois St., Urbana)
Jun 23, 2024   6:30 pm  
María Elena García, Comparative History of Ideas, University of Washington
Originating Calendar
Campus Humanities Calendar

A young Quechua woman refuses to kill her alpaca, so both are killed by Shining Path militants. An elderly woman tearfully recounts the guilt she feels about her inability to prevent the killing, and grilling, of her donkey by Peruvian military forces. A man describes being forced to hang his dogs and burn his lands to save his family. This talk will explore these and other accounts of violence against more-than-human life and relations in Peru during the recent war between the state and the Shining Path (1980-2000). As revealed in testimonies of Indigenous peoples, collected by the state-sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Quechua survivors insist that the lives of their non-human kin matter, even as processes of justice-seeking and reparations in Peru promote a human rights framework. How can Indigenous testimonies open up alternative forms of justice? How do they unsettle existing frameworks that continue to perpetuate colonial hierarchies? Through an analysis of Quechua testimonies, Professor García considers what the contours and limitations of the archive suggest for decolonial and multispecies forms of justice in Peru.


María Elena García is Professor of Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington. She is a cultural anthropologist whose work is at the intersection of Indigenous studies, Latin American Studies, and Animal Studies. Her most recent book, Gastropolitics and the Specter of Race (UC Press 2021), was awarded the 2022 Flora Tristán Prize for Best Book on Peru, a recognition given annually by the Peru section of the Latin American Studies Association. You can listen to an interview with García about the book here. And you can find a short blogpost about this project here.

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