The Mask and the Mirror: Facing up to the Past in Postwar Peru

Date Published:

Jan 1, 2006


In this article Theidon draws upon research conducted with communities in Ayacucho, the region of Peru that bore the greatest loss of life during the internal armed conflict of the 1980-1990s. The fratricidal nature of the conflict means that in any given community,former enemies live side by side. What is it like to live in such a context? What is it like knowing just who one lives with-and living with what oneself has done? As a way of thinking about these questions, Theidon focuses on a figure that appeared incessantly in her conversations: the masked ones. What lies behind the masks that haunt these narratives, particularly in those communities in which the "masked ones" were frequently neighbors and family members? Theidon demonstrates that talk about masks, faces, and "facelessness" is talk about morality and immorality, and about the challenges of forging co-existence among intimate enemies.


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