Narratives, Resilience and Violence in Peruvian Amazonia: The Huallaga Valley, 1980-2015

Bartholomew Dean*

Narratives, Resilience and Violence in Peruvian Amazonia: The Huallaga Valley, 1980-2015.

I provide novel insight into the complex relationships with the affective dispositions of those caught up in civil war, and post-conflict violence. In this respect, my research illuminates recent efforts at decolonizing hegemonic forms of Occidental jurisprudence, while generating novel ways to destabilize anthropological iterations of Amazonia, and the regnant theoretical dominance of perspectivism that silences indigenous voice, political economy and history.

Thick narrative descriptions I have collected from the war-ravaged Huallaga Valley transmit the seemingly ineffable tragedies deeply embodied in the lives of those who suffered. Some fled to illicit forest encampments located deep in the jungle, or to the culturally inhospitable environs of coastal
cities like Trujillo, or Lima.

Instead of simply rejecting the insights yielded from functional approaches to violence, my research contributes to demonstrating the complex, dynamic interplay between purposive action and mutuality in shaping the postcolonial ontological experiences and sensorial representations of violence among indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon.

Postcolonial forms of resilience in the face of suffering from structural or intimate acts of violence are inscribed in the narrative accounts that reconstruct not only the physical ravages of conflict, but also salve the intensely embodied mental wounds that linger in scarred memories, and the frightful efforts to remember to forget.

Yet without reconstituting a moral community through consciously acknowledging the multiple socio-cultural contours shaping overlapping epistemologies of justice, freedom and communal wellbeing, efforts at lasting reconciliation will remain elusive. As my long time friend Ronaldo mentioned to me one steamy night during a round of drinking bottles of Pilsen beer. Emphasizing emotional dispositions through study of the speech acts of the narratives elucidates how the mobilization of violence blurs and complicates the formal line.

Anthropol Open J. 2015; 1(1): 1-2. doi:10.17140/ANTPOJ-1-101