A much-needed work on the cultural, aesthetic, and political dimensions of Peruvian indigenismo, arguably one of the most important and influential trends to have emerged in Latin America during the first half of the twentieth century. The analysis is solid, thorough, and convincing.
In The Andes Imagined, Jorge Coronado not only examines but also recasts the indigenismo movement of the early 1900s. Coronado departs from the common critical conception of indigenismo as rooted in novels and short stories, and instead analyzes an expansive range of work in poetry, essays, letters, newspaper writing, and photography. He uses this evidence to show how the movement's artists and intellectuals mobilize the figure of the Indian to address larger questions about becoming modern, and he focuses on the contradictions at the heart of indigenismo as a cultural, social, and political movement.
By breaking down these different perspectives, Coronado reveals an underlying current in which intellectuals and artists frequently deployed their indigenous subject in order to imagine new forms of political inclusion. He suggests that these deployments rendered particular variants of modernity and make indigenismo representational practices a privileged site for the examination of the region's cultural negotiation of modernization. His analysis reveals a paradox whereby the un-modern indio becomes the symbol for the modern itself.
The Andes Imagined offers an original and broadly based engagement with indigenismo and its intellectual contributions, both in relation to early twentieth-century Andean thought and to larger questions of theorizing modernity.
"The Andes Imagined offers a fresh perspective on how Andean intellectuals responded to modernization in the early twentieth century. Relying on substantial research and engaged analysis, Coronado's insightful study provides a needed reaffirmation of the vitality and diversity of Peruvian thought during this period."
Provocative and distinctly original. . . . The chapter on Chambi, which interprets various of his famous photographs, is a tour de force. It is here that Coronado's thesis is best illustrated and most convincing.
I would recommend this book for those who want to know about the most important Latin American intellectual movement of the early twentieth century.
Coronado shows how the Indian was constructed by indigenistas as the antithesis of modernity and the embodiment of premodern colonialism. However, Coronado also demonstrates that people of indigenous descent saw themselves not as alien to modernity but as striving to achieve its benefits and to be included in it.