Peru has witnessed unprecedented change in the past generation, beginning the period of brutal civil violence suffered by the country from 1980 to 2000. Known to many as “manchay tiempo”—a Quechua/Spanish hybrid phrase meaning “the time of fear”—the period was shaped by the armed conflict waged between Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path) and the military, with tens of thousands of civilians, the majority from poor indigenous and mestizo communities, caught in the crossfire. Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose final report was submitted in 2003, counted a death toll of 69,000 and named as a major source of the violence Peru’s legacy of deep racial, economic, and social division.

Together with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, we will focus on the social divisions that have so long defined Peruvian culture, and with Yuyachkani, we will consider the politics of healing through the careful understanding and crossing of such boundaries. We take the notion of “borders” as a frame to organize our readings, visits, and other activities: how has social and discourse in Peru understood the borders that divide its people by gender, race, or class? How has Peruvian national and state discourse rendered those divisions and/or their potential integration? The civil violence occasioned unprecedented movement within Peru itself, as predominantly Andean peoples migrated by the hundreds of thousands to Lima and other urban centers: what are the consequences and challenges posed—aesthetically, socially, politically—of such movement across these geographic, linguistic, and social borders? Finally, what would a present and future politics of healing entail? Crossing, changing, or eliminating these borders?

We will explore these issues through a range of related activities: an intensive workshop with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, guest lectures with leading scholars and artists, site visits to museums and other sites, and a series of readings and film screenings, all outlined below.