Javier PuenteApr 5, 2023
The Rural State
Making Comunidades, Campesinos, and Conflict in Peru's Central Sierra
University of Texas Press 2022
On the eve of the twentieth century, Peru seemed poised for prosperity and development. Both foreign capitalists and local elites imagined that the highlands would be essential to Peru's future sustainable national economy. Mobilizing Andean populations lay at the core of this endeavor.
In his groundbreaking book, The Rural State: Making Comunidades, Campesinos, and Conflict in Peru’s Central Sierra (University of Texas Press, 2022), Javier Puente uncovers the surprising and overlooked ways that Peru’s rural communities formed the political nation-state that still exists today. Puente documents how people living in the Peruvian central sierra in the twentieth century confronted powers of state and capital and struggled to ensure both subsistence and autonomy. Rather than impoverished communities abandoned by the state, Puente shows us the years of policy, politics, and social turmoil that characterized a century-long process of rural state formation. Examining the conflicts between one rural community and the many iterations of statehood in the central sierra of Peru, The Rural State offers a fresh perspective on how the Andes became la sierra, how pueblos became comunidades, and how indígenas became campesinos.
Elena McGrath is an Assistant Professor of History at Union College.