Jo-Marie BurtSep 29, 2021
Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru
Silencing Civil Society
Palgrave Macmillan 2008
These days, anyone paying close attention to Peru is awash in déjà vu: the ghosts of Peru’s once-brutal war with the Maoist insurgent group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) have resurfaced time and again following the surprise victory of the country’s new left-leaning president. To understand how and why that conflict continues to shape Peruvian society, we invited Dr. Jo-Marie Burt onto the podcast to discuss her (not so) new book, Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru: Silencing Civil Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
An Associate Professor of Political Science at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, Dr. Burt first traveled to Peru in the 1980s during the height of the civil conflict. The research she conducted across Peru and in Lima’s shantytowns led her to two major conclusions about the conflict. Despite its brutality, Sendero Luminoso had made inroads with Peru’s disaffected because it was able to provide a form of stability in areas the Peruvian state had overlooked. Second, the violence of the war debilitated Peru’s once-thriving civil society. The war thus set the stage for the authoritarian state that emerged in its aftermath.
On the episode, I talk with Professor Burt about the origins, course, and resolution of the war; some of the mythologizing around Alberto Fujimori’s defeat of the insurgency; the legacy of the war in Peruvian society today; and whether her research has implications beyond Peru.
A third edition of the book will be published, in Spanish, early next year by Planeta.
John Sakellariadis is a 2021-2022 Fulbright US Student Research Grantee. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree in History & Literature from Harvard University.