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The Testimony of Space: Sites of Memory and Violence in Peru's Internal Armed Conflict

Willis, Daniel; (2018) The Testimony of Space: Sites of Memory and Violence in Peru's Internal Armed Conflict. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

Daniel Willis - The Testimony of Space [RPS Version].pdf - Accepted version

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This thesis seeks to contribute to knowledge on Peru’s internal armed conflict (1980-2000), in which the insurgent group Shining Path attempted to destroy and replace the existing Peruvian state, by analysing the key themes of violence, culture and memory through the lens of space. By deploying this spatial analysis, the thesis demonstrates that insurgent and state violence were shaped by the politics and production of space, that cultural responses to the conflict have articulated spatialised understandings of violence and the Peruvian nation, and that commemorative sites exist within a broader geography of memory (or commemorative “city-text”) which can support or challenge memory narratives in unintended ways. Whereas previous literature on the Peruvian conflict, by Carlos Iván Degregori, Nelson Manrique and Peru’s Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación, has emphasised the fundamentalist nature of Shining Path’s Maoist ideology, this thesis highlights the ways in which party militants interpreted this ideology in their own way and adapted it to local realities. I also argue that counterinsurgent violence was premised upon a spatialised understanding of Peruvian society which conflated indigeneity with Leftist radicalism. Using a broadly Foucauldian framework, I argue that the state created spaces of exception in order to eliminate political and biopolitical enemies. In approaching cultural responses to the conflict, I use the work of Butler on grievability to argue that the perceived non-grievability of insurgents and indigenous communities has been produced by the vast (and to some extent imagined) cultural distances which exist between Peru’s disparate communities. I also tie these issues of grievability to post-conflict memory practice, arguing that commemorative sites have not only been shaped by spatialised understanding of the conflict and by two distinct memory narratives in Peru, but also by the politics and production of urban space in which each of these sites has been created.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Testimony of Space: Sites of Memory and Violence in Peru's Internal Armed Conflict
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Peru, Shining Path, Political violence, Memory studies, Internal armed conflict, Sendero Luminoso, Cultural memory
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043590
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