Feb 26, 2014
4:30pm in Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall
Identity, authenticity and expertise: Quechua literacy regimes in the Peruvian Andes
Virginia Zavala Pontificia, Universidad Católica del Perú
Based on ethnographic research about a language regime favoring Quechua in Apurímac in the southern Peruvian Andes, this paper will address the disconnect between how the region is being imagined as a community of apurimeños at the level of official documents and how power relationships emerge when social actors interpret them. In this talk, I will analyze the way Quechua literacy is implicated in the construction of hierarchical relationships and in the formation of exclusive identities and subjectivities within the Quechua-speaking population itself. Using a social practice perspective of literacy, the field of language ideologies, and a view of bilingualism (and biliteracy) as ideology and practice, I will analyze three tactics of intersubjectivity (Bucholtz 2003) or three different types of identity work done by a community of practice of Quechua “experts”. First, they construct an ethnic division within the region based on relations of similarity and difference and they extrapolate this to a distinction made between two types of Quechua alphabets. Second, they construct their authority based on their “grammaticalized”
expertise with Quechua writing in order to differentiate themselves from other Quechua speakers. And third, they construct Quechua literacy as an ancestral emblem of identity, through which people can “remember” endangered cultural practices, a tactic that also excludes the “impure” and more urbanized Quechua speaking people and positions the rural speaker as the authentic and genuine.