Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Staging lo Andino: The Scissors Dance, Spectacle, and Indigenous Citizenship in the New Peru
by Bush, Jason Alton, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2011, 393; 10630848
Abstract (Summary)

“Staging Lo Andino: Danza de las Tijeras, Spectacle, and Indigenous Citizenship in the New Peru” draws on more than sixteen months of fieldwork in Peru, financed by Ohio State’s competitive Presidential Fellowship for dissertation research and writing. I investigate a historical ethnography of the Peruvian scissors dance, an acrobatic indigenous ritual dance historically associated with the stigma of indigeneity, poverty, and devil worship. After the interventions of Peruvian public intellectual José María Arguedas (1911-1969), the scissors dance became an emblem of indigenous Andean identity and valued as cultural patrimony of the nation. Once repudiated by dominant elites because it embodied the survival of indigenous spiritual practices, the scissors dance is now a celebrated emblem of Peru's cultural diversity and the perseverance of Andean traditions in the modern world.

I examine the complex processes whereby anthropologists, cultural entrepreneurs, cosmopolitan artists, and indigenous performers themselves have staged the scissors dance as a symbolic resource in the construction of the emergent imaginary of a “New Peru”. I use the term “New Peru” to designate a flexible repertoire of utopian images and discourses designed to imagine the belated overcoming of colonial structures of power and the formation of a modern nation with foundations in the Pre-Columbian past. I ask what does the staging of the dance as national and transnational spectacle do to and for marginalized Andean subjects. And what forms of indigenous citizenship do highly-skilled Andean performers engender and enact when they inhabit the role of the “millennial” Andean Other on cosmopolitan public stages? To address these questions, I draw on interdisciplinary research from anthropology, folklore studies, visual culture studies, and theatre and performance studies about the ways that indigenous cultural forms acquire value as icons of particular nationalities in transnational public culture. I argue indigenous cultural performances, such as the scissors dance, often gain visibility and public recognition as they become commodities in a world market that increasingly values spectacles of cultural difference. Yet, the emergence of new forms of neoliberal governmenance circumscribe the articulation of cosmopolitan indigenous subjectivities as scissors dancers have become highly visible participants in the remaking of Peruvian national identity within a performative economy of spectacle in a globalizing world.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ferris, Lesley
Commitee: Borland, Katherine, Puga, Ana
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Theatre
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Dance, Theater, Latin American Studies, Ethnic studies, Performing Arts, Native American studies
Keywords: Andes, Anthropology, Dance, Indigenous, Peru, Theatre
Publication Number: 10630848
ISBN: 9780355011814
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