Conference Explores Aftermath of Shining Path

Chuck Walker, professor of history and director of Hemispheric Institute on the Americas, provided opening remarks.

On February 11, 2016, the UC Davis Hemispheric Institute on the Americas hosted an international conference on “The Aftermath of the Shining Path: Memory, Violence, and Politics in Peru.” 

The conference, held mostly in Spanish, brought together renowned scholars, archivists, and journalists to discuss the vicious war that stretched from 1980 to 1992 and its aftermath.

Led by Abimael Guzmán or Presidente Gonzalo, the Maoist Shining Path began in Ayacucho in the highlands and spread throughout much of the country. Both their tactics as well as the response by the Peruvian military were brutal, resulting in over 70,000 dead and hundreds of thousands forced to flee. Indigenous peasants bore the brunt of this violence and displacement.

Stefano Varese, professor emeritus of Native American Studies at UC Davis, moderated the session titled Local Perspectives: Community and Post-Conflict Process in Peru. 

speaker Ruth Borja

Ruth Borja, the former director of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Archive, was a presenter in the session titled Local Perspectives: Community and Post-Conflict Process in Peru. She is also a professor of history at San Marcos University. She has conducted extensive research in Ayacucho and has been a consultant on truth commissions and archives.

Speaker Ricardo Caro

Ricardo Caro, a researcher at the Catholic University in Lima, was a presenter in the session titled Local Perspectives: Community and Post-Conflict Process in Peru. Caro has published widely on the Shining Path, particularly in the Huancavelica region. He edited the 2014 dossier published by IFEA, Los Claroscuros del Conflicto Armado y sus representaciones en Perú.

Zoila Mendoza, professor and chair of Native American Studies at UC Davis, moderated the session titled From the Inside and Outside: Testimonies and Autobiographies of Exceptional Lives. 

Lurgio Gavilán and José Carlos Agüero presented in the session titled From the Inside and Outside: Testimonies and Autobiographies of Exceptional Lives. Gavilán's recently published memoirs, When Rains Became Floods (Memorias de un soldado desconocido), retells his life as a child soldier for the Shining Path. Subsequently, he became a soldier, a Franciscan priest, and anthropologist. When Rains Became Floods is being made into a movie.
Agüero wrote Los rendidos about his childhood as the son of two Shining Path members. The book has been well received in Peru — prompting broad discussions about the period, memory and tolerance. 

Speaker Ricardo Aroni

Renzo Aroni, a Ph.D. student in history at UC Davis, was a presenter in the session titled From the Inside and Outside: Testimonies and Autobiographies of Exceptional Lives. Aroni has written on violence and its aftermath in Peru. He has edited No hay mañana sin ayer. Batallas por la memoria y consolidación democrática en el Perú and De Víctimas a Ciudadanos: Memorias de la Violencia Política en Comunidades de la Cuenca del Río Pampas.

Building on the 2003 report of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, analysts have begun to piece together how this movement emerged and why the violence escalated. Recent memoirs, local analyses, and explorations in "memory studies" have enriched this process and fostered much debate. The conference features the authors of many of these key works.

The conflict still casts a long shadow on Peru and the nation remains divided. For example, many have celebrated the recent inauguration of the commemoration site, the Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia y la Inclusión Social (The Place for Memory, Tolerance, and Social Inclusion), while others have demanded its closing.

This conference aimed to contribute to the passionate discussions taking place in Peru and beyond about violence, memory, and justice.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Sciences, the Davis Humanities Institute, Department of History, Native American Studies Department, Department of Political Science, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Center for the Study of Human Rights in the America, and the Human Rights Program.

Supplemental content

Conference poster showing a  Peruvian family in traditional dress walking across a grassy field

Presentations

Local Perspectives: Community and the Post-Conflict Process in Peru
  • Ruth Borja, San Marcos University (Spanish)
  • Ricardo Caro, Catholic University in Lima (Spanish)
  • Moderated by Stefano Varese, UC Davis
From Inside and Outside: Testimonies and Autobiographies of Exceptional Lives
  • José Carlos Agüero, author of Los rendidos, which explores his childhood as the son of two Shining Path members (Spanish)
  • Lurgio Gavilán, whose memoirs When Rains Became Floods (Memorias de un soldado desconocido), retells his life as a child soldier for the Shining Path. (Spanish)
  • Renzo Aroni, history graduate student at UC Davis (Spanish)
  • Moderated by Zoila Mendoza, UC Davis
Ultra-Capitalists and Crypto-Communists: Drug Trafficking and the Shining Path since the 1990s
  • Gustavo Gorriti, an investigative journalist whose work on the Shining Path, drug trafficking, and corruption have earned numerous honors. (English) Note: This keynote address was not videorecorded.