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Peru: Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

In May 2019, I completed a "Global Course Connection" in Peru; a field extension to a class called Indigenous Communities vs. Globalization in South America taught on campus the semester prior. I went to Cusco and the Sacred Valley with twelve classmates and two professors to witness the political, cultural, and archaeological history we learned about in the classroom, and to conduct individual research projects of our choice.

Top to bottom, left to right:

Pinkuylluna trail in Ollantaytambo, a small town in the Sacred Valley

Plaza de Armas in Cusco

My classmates, professors, and me at a homestay in Chinchero

Hike to Saqsaywaman, an Incan fortress on the outskirts of Cusco

A courtyard in a Cusco church

Cusco avenue at dusk

A mural in the Qorikancha, the central temple in Cusco (former Incan capital) that was captured by the Spanish in 1533. The mural was painted by the Spanish, which contains Moorish/Arabic-influenced designs. The thought that these designs would travel from the Middle East to Spain to the Qorikancha in the 1500s astonished me. What an amazing exhibit of early globalization.

Macchu Picchu

The unit of the course that I enjoyed most was about 1990s Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, leading me to conduct my research project on his legacy in the eyes of present-day Peruvians. On the one hand, he ended the Peruvian Civil War, squashed Maoist terrorist/guerrilla group Shining Path, modernized Peru's infrastructure, and opened the country up to tourism and foreign direct investment. On the other hand, he murdered and sterilized thousands of innocent people during the civil war, was connected to drug trafficking, and meddled with the press.

A 1990s propaganda poster created by the Shining Path, promoting its leader Abimael Guzman, and the Maoist insurgency in Peru (see above paragraph)

President Alberto Fujimori

Me interviewing one of my professor's local friends

I wanted to investigate which, if any, variables such as gender, race, location, occupation, and socioeconomic status would be correlated with modern-day support for his presidency. So, I impromptu interviewed cab drivers, my homestay family, friends of my professors, and other acquaintances (all in Spanish) to learn more. In the end, the majority of people I spoke with opposed Fujimori; one person even had relatives unjustly killed by the military in the 1990s. The few that did stand by Fujimori had worked in government at the time, and cited the political and economic stability that his presidency ushered in.

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