London Andean Studies Seminar | Promoting research and debate that connects specialized Andean and Area Studies scholarship with global and theoretical questions

Current Seminar Schedule


All meetings are at 5:30pm in Senate House.


October 4 (Room 234)

Contested Memories of the Peruvian Internal Armed Conflict

Paulo Drinot (UCL)

As the 2016 presidential elections showed, the Internal Armed Conflict (IAC), and the contested memories that reflect, and shape, its legacies, remain at the heart of political contestation in Peru. During the first round of elections the Fujimorista campaign mobilized a familiar narrative of the conflict and of the role of Alberto Fujimori in the defeat of Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso – SL). The anti-Fujimorista movement, which, as in previous elections, played a key role in the electoral process, countered with its own narrative of the conflict and challenged the notion that Fujimori alone was responsible for the defeat of SL. Instead, it stressed the authoritarian and corrupt nature of the Fujimori regime, warning that a victory for Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko, would return Peru to its darkest days. The Fujimorista campaign replied by accusing its critics, and particularly the members of the left-wing coalition the Frente Amplio, of being “terrucos”. As this suggests, contested memories of the IAC are evident in Peruvian political life today, 25 years after the SL leader, Abimael Guzmán, was arrested and the conflict began to unravel. These contested memories are evident in ongoing debates over El ojo que llora (The Eye That Cries), a monument located in a park in central Lima, which memorializes the victims of Peru’s IAC. In this paper, I examine how the monument serves as a point of departure for online debate on Peru’s “time of fear” by studying several cyberfora, particularly YouTube videos, which operate as web-sites of memory. El ojo que llora monument, I show, has come to function as a synecdoche (a part that stands for the whole) of the Final Report of the 2001 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), but also, arguably, as its simulacrum, a site where the CVR’s report is commemorated but also where adherence to its principles and recommendations can be manifested and performed. Because of this double function as synecdoche and simulacrum, El ojo que llora has become a privileged site in which ongoing contestation over the IAC, and particularly over how, and indeed if, the IAC should be remembered, takes place.


October 18 (Room G34)

Visualizing Black Subjects in Nineteenth-Century Peru through the Works of Francisco ‘Pancho’ Fierro (1807-1879)

Helen Melling (ILAS)

In recent years, new research has significantly enriched scholarship on the African Diaspora in Spanish America, particularly along the previously understudied Pacific Andean coast.  A number of works examining representations of blackness in visual culture across the Atlantic world attest to the growing vibrancy of this subject area. What many specialists and general readers alike have failed to recognise, however, is the existence of an expansive visual archive of black subjects. The representation of these subjects in Peruvian visual culture stretches from colonial travel accounts of Lima and visual classificatory projects of the Enlightenment, to Costumbrista iconography and photographic portraiture of the 19th century.  The Peruvian archive presents a unique case in the figure of the prolific mulato artist Francisco ‘Pancho’ Fierro (1807-1879), whose popular watercolours lie at the heart of this visual corpus. Fierro’s vivid scenes of daily life capture the diversity of early Republican Lima’s multi-ethnic society, where Afro-descendants were key economic and cultural protagonists of the urban landscape. His singular insight into the black experience is reflected in a number of themes unique to his opus. This opus both probes and transcends the usual 19th century portrayal of black subjects in servile roles, and makes visible their participation in confraternities, the military and the body politic at large. Examining these works through an interdisciplinary lens, this paper will consider the ways in which Fierro’s oeuvre presents a complex view of the experience of Afro-descendants in early Republican Peru.


November 1 (Room G34)

Revolutionary Elections in Colombia: The Presidential Contest of 1836-37

Eduardo Posada-Carbo (Oxford)

This seminar paper examines the presidential campaign of 1836-37 in New Granada (Colombia today), a contest that stands out in the world history of elections for its remarkable features.  This contest is examined here as a ‘revolutionary election’ and from a comparative Americas perspective.  The candidates in the 1836-37 election favoured by the government lost.  The losers, including the government, accepted defeat.  The incumbent, president Francisco de Paula Santander, handed executive power to the victor.  The new president, José Ignacio de Márquez, completed his term in office, and was succeeded by another elected president.  Very few governments in the Americas at the time had handed over power to their opponents following an electoral defeat.  Those who did, as occurred in Venezuela in 1835, soon forced their way back into power. The other notable exception was the United States of America, where twice since the founding of the republic –in 1800 and in 1828- governments accepted defeat at the ballot box.  



Feb 7 (Room G35)

Sobre los orígenes globales del populismo latinoamericano: el APRA y el Kuo-Min-Tang

Martín Bergel (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

El populismo latinoamericano clásico ha sido tradicionalmente enfocado como un fenómeno idiosincrático del continente, un tipo de constructo enraizado en su cultura política. En esta conferencia pretendo ofrecer un punto de vista distinto que desafía ese consenso implícito, a partir del caso que ofrece la inspiración directa que extrajo del Kuo-Min-Tang chino uno de los primeros y más influyentes movimientos populistas de América Latina, el aprismo peruano. En su momento de gestación, a mediados de los años 1920s, el líder aprista Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre se hallaba bajo fuerte influjo del movimiento antiimperialista de la China. Haya no solo entra en contacto durante su exilio en Europa con líderes del Kuo-Min-Tang, con quienes comparte actos y tribunas contra el imperialismo, sino que –más decisivamente- en ensayos y artículos que publica, y en la correspondencia privada con otros apristas, insiste en presentar al APRA como el “Kuo-Min-Tang latinoamericano”, y en extraer del módulo de interpelación nacional-popular del movimiento chino una lección práctica acerca de cómo construir un partido de masas. En última instancia, el nacionalismo popular y revolucionario que aflora en el discurso y en la praxis del aprismo encuentra en el referente proveniente de la China (más imaginado que efectivamente conocido) el principal recurso en el que inspirarse.



May 2 (Room 234)

The Peruvian Invention of Decolonization

Mark Thurner (ILAS)

Contrary to the scholarly consensus, the concept of ‘decolonise’ was coined not in France in 1837 vis-a-vis the conquest of Algeria but instead in Peru in 1822.  In this paper I explore the meaning of the concept in early nineteenth-century Peru.  I then draw out the implications of the Peruvian experience, outlining a new narrative for the global history of decolonisation.


May 16 (Room G37)

Water, Knowledge and Autonomy: High Modernism Meets Community Organization in the Ecuadorian Andes

Geoff Goodwin, Department of International Development, LSE


Water’s capacity to unite and divide has been evident throughout Latin American history, but most clearly on show since the 1980s. Efforts to privatize water supplies and services during structural adjustment and neoliberal reform provoked intense political struggles. Mobilizations against privatization brought together a diverse range of social actors who demanded change in the management of water. Ecuador was one of the few Latin American countries that responded to this demand. Over the last decade a new water regime has emerged in the country which entrusts the management of water to the state and the community, with the private sector performing a minor role. While the regime partially responds to earlier demands to reduce the role of the private sector in the management of water, it has provoked resistance from community water organizations, which have attempted to protect their autonomy in the face of increased state interference and regulation. One dimension of this struggle has been over knowledge. Whereas state agencies have attempted to impose a high modernist project which fetishes scientific knowledge and standardises water management, community organizations have stressed the importance of local knowledge and the diversity of water systems. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Ecuador since 2015, this paper will explore the tension between these two broad visions of water management, focusing on the intersection between knowledge and autonomy. It will seek to show that knowledge is a fundamental component of autonomous organizing and the line between scientific and local knowledge is blurry, contested and constantly shifting. The paper will conclude by exploring the space open for the coproduction of knowledge and considering whether it offers a possible route out of the crisis.