As Peruvians, sometimes it seems that we are only the leftovers of what once was a legendary Empire, and that we lay now in some sort of limbo in between a mediocre modernity and a great past. And that past is the image that we, with great effort, (re) build and export to a globalised exterior, maybe to have more potential tourists interested in visiting us, hoping to find a niche for our unique status, where we sadly are rarely seen as innovators, discoverers, or inventors, and, if so, with the tendency to fall within a framework that could be considered exotic when that cultural legacy – that of before but not now – is commonly referenced.
The truth is that there is no adequate terminology yet to classify these lands and their people, us, who are not part of the Eastern world either; not being entirely “ancestral”, nor really an example of an industrially and technologically advanced society, it is this indeterminate state that makes obtaining a name to define ourselves in a titanic task and leaves us only with that word that ignores the indigenous presence and their languages: Latin America, the land of adventure, sensuality, parties and buried secrets, where even a virtual Indiana Jones came to “safeguard” the pre-Hispanic treasures that are still hidden in this area of dubious borders.
Although there is the possibility of radically claiming that cultural heritage, referencing that indigenous past in an open way as part of our identity, it is also true that it could expose us to accusations from an Academy that could brand us as cultural appropriators (with the negative charge that it brings) in case our families did not keep the traditions of their ancestors or remain ethnically “pure”. Or even worse: we can be seen as “self-exoticizing” ourselves, in that case, blaming us for putting in practice a very strange self-exploiting technique that would fulfill the role that is expected from us, in a strategy that would finally allow us to attain economic gain from such self-exploitation, or recognition, or who knows what.
I think that, simply, it is not fully understood that we are in the process of defining who we are and where we belong: if we are closer to those who colonized these lands, or if we are the descendants of those who fell victim to the external powers… Either way, we are always being externally pushed into a binary scheme that really does not apply to our condition, that, in a way, ends up like the arid plains of Cieneguilla, a few kilometers away. With the big city, with its modern automobiles and its financial centers with reflective windows; closer still, the precarious houses of human settlements, where people survive as best they can, while, in the arid soil more in the distance, that puzzle continues to lay scattered without assembly, whose pieces us artists and musicians keep on collecting so to creatively reassemble them, filling the missing gaps with what we dream of while putting them together again.