Peruvian theater troupe Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, is well known for its theatrical aesthetics, which draws on a unique, truly cosmopolitan blend of Western, Andean and even Asian performance traditions. It is now commonplace to comment upon lo andino in the work of Yuyachkani, but most who do so focus on a readily evident oral, visual, and thematic repertoire—the use of Quechua, the deployment of Andean music, dance, masks, and costumes, and the use of characters from popular highland festivals. The danger in such assessments, however, is to suggest that Yuyachkani falls into the type of Andeanism, famously criticized by Orin Starn in 1991, that romanticizes the Andes as a place of untouched, authentic indigenous culture which in its persistence has somehow managed to remain “outside the flow of modern history.” My work aspires to dig deeper into Yuyachkani’s Andeanism—a political-aesthetic proposition informed by rigorous study, fieldwork, and experimentation—by placing its corpus of over 30 plays in direct dialogue with some of the most important thinkers of ethnicity in Peru, many of whom the group directly references in essays, interviews, and the plays themselves. This presentation will focus on the centrality of the work of José María Arguedas for Yuyachkani. More than any other thinker, Arguedas pushes the group from a static understanding of lo andino, dominant among academics in the 70s and early 80s when the group began, towards a staging of interculturality that, I argue, should place Yuyachkani as a major contributor to the theorizing of race in the Andes.
LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES PROGRAM AT WASHU ZOOM LECTURE SERIES ON RACE AND ETHNICITY
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