9536 - Sugar ruins and rotting mangos: campesinos negros remember the Hacienda and Agrarian Reform

This paper discusses the centrality of memories of the Hacienda (plantation), the role of Peruvian Agrarian Reform and the failed Co-operative in ideas about belonging and historical rupture in an Afro-Peruvian and mestizo community in Northern Peru . While there are narratives of abuse, in particular punishment on the cepo , “slavery” is remembered as a recent, collective, non-ethnic system of labour relations which are characterised primarily by a lack of individual autonomy and a lack of ownership of land. Rather than casting the Hacienda period as solely negative, it is from a nostalgia for grandeur and progress that today’s inheritors of the Hacienda create an idealised future of “what could be”. Rupture in this village is posed by Velasco’s Agrarian Reform, which is seen as a success in some ways (making workers the owners of their labour and farmers the owner of the land), and as a failure in others (the co-operative). Life histories and villagers’ stories turn on kinship, the construction of gender through wage labour and farm work, and highlight the generational divisions through which some benefited more from Agrarian Reform while others less, but where ultimately an emphasis on egalitarianism was asserted. Written from the perspective of an isolated rural village relatively remote from the influences of ethnic and Human Rights activists in Lima , this paper stresses the importance of agriculture, rural economic activity, land and local history in explaining the relative weakness of “identity” mobilisation on the ground.

Keywords: Afro-Latin Americans, history, Agrarian Reform, "identity", slavery

Author: Tatem-Hale, Tamara (LSE, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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