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9468 - Patriotism Lost?: A Study of National Discourse in Cusco

On 25 July 2010, three days before the anniversary of Peruvian independence, a headline of El Diario del Cusco proclaimed ‘Se Pierde Patriotismo!’ The headline referred to the apathetic manner in which schoolchildren in Cusco had marched in a parade to commemorate Peruvian independence. Had cusqueños ‘lost respect for their patria’ as the article argued? The events of the next day appeared to suggest otherwise. Rather than limp-limbed marching, hundreds of young Cusqueños protested passionately for ‘a better tribute to the patria ’, the nationalization of gas. On the surface the protest seemed traditionally patriotic: a ‘tribute to the patria’ ; ‘ nation alization.’ However, whilst the literature and art used by the protestors to convey their message was no less patriotic in sentiment, it certainly challenged particular conventions of Peruvian patriotism. For example, they distributed poems in which José de San Martín, was defecated on by a flamingo. The cartoons that they chose to cover one wall of the Plaza de Armas depicted politicians as conquistadors and corregidors , the very people ‘they’ had fought against in the wars of independence. Why could a protest so openly contest national myths? Especially on a day reserved to commemorate independence. What had changed that meant the symbols of independence were no longer relevant to these cusqueños ?    

This paper uses a 2010 protest by a group called ‘El Muro’ during the fiestas patrias as a window into the national discourse in Cusco. It does so by asking why the protest could challenge the memory of independence by protesting during the fiestas patrias. In exploring this thesis it shows how a disputed ‘independence’ lead to a contradictory and contested nation. It will then show how the ‘nation’, by gradually becoming more inclusive, became a frame of reference for understanding everyday life. It will also be considered that this frame is the mode of communication between people and state, and how social inequalities were challenged in this discourse.          

Palavras-chaves: Bicentenary, Nationalism, Cusco

Autores: Elliott, Steven (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)

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