For the past eight years I have heard about and seen for myself the remarkable rapport existing between the Paul Doughtys and the people in the Peruvian mountain town of Huaylas. This book reflects their mutual affection and regard, and it benefits therefrom. The Doughtys lived in Huaylas for a year and a half, and many times since then Huaylinos have visited them. Such intensive involvement makes the role of the investigator an important factor in observation and reporting. Doughty describes his acceptance into the community and, through the frequent use of transcribed field notes, gives the reader an idea of how the data were collected and how he fit into the town. No field worker could claim objectivity after eight years of contact, or eight days for that matter, and Doughty’s positive reactions to the things Huaylinos do is a pleasant change from the hostile accounts of a few U. S. anthropologists in the Andes, the impersonal studies of some others, and the mechanical surveys turned out by many Peruvians.
Apparently Doughty chose Huaylas because of its upbeat, progressive orientation and its open, friendly people. He identified with and had most of his contacts with the more progressive, friendly, positive people, the predominant group in Huaylas. He emphasizes the impressive achievements of the community, including a modern electric plant, much better than that of the provincial capital, and a presidential award, the Silver Shovel, recognizing the community’s accomplishments. The Huaylinos will probably use the shovel to continue the major construction projects in which they have been engaged since 1872.
Without doubt Huaylas has done a remarkable job in solving problems and making economic and social progress. As Doughty points out, this contrasts with the peasant society model presented by George Foster. He does a fine job of documenting the distinctions, but I am not convinced when he tries to set forth their causes. On one level the phenomena which he mentions clearly explain why Huaylas does not fit Foster’s model of the hostile, suspicious, uncooperative community where all good things are in short supply and one can only advance at the expense of someone else. Huaylas is not “hung up” on the usual race and class distinctions so common in highland Latin America. There are virtually no Indians left in the district. Quechua is dying out, and practically everyone under thirty is bilingual. The people have an optimistic view of the economy. The barrio divisions so common in small-town Latin America are present, but the rivalry is not destructive. Outside contact is frequent, and many Huaylinos have left the area and done very well, providing many success models both for those who leave and for those who stay. Huaylas has a strong group of school teachers who train and encourage others, so that there are more teachers and school officials from Huaylas working all over Peru than from any other town its size and from many much larger. Leadership has been good, and the town has been sought out by national and international agencies.
On another level, however, the real question may be unanswerable—horrible thought for social scientists. Why is Huaylas that way and other similar places not? A possible reason, which Doughty mentions, is that the area around Huaylas was not characterized by large haciendas or mines. He points out quite correctly that the absence of haciendas does not guarantee economic and social change. But I know of no areas of the Andes where the presence of large haciendas and the accompanying upper-class landowners has not been associated with repression, stealing of comunidad and small town lands, and retardation of social change.
Whereas in most community studies the towns seem to stand alone, Doughty does an excellent job of relating Huaylas to the outside world. He constantly points out the associations with national agencies, migrating kinsmen and friends (Huaylinos were working in Lima and going to the university in 1886), political parties and campaigns, taxes, courts, factories, and coastal plantations. Polities, religion, population, and physical setting are covered in separate chapters, and he has an excellent chapter on the structure of work. His chapter on social stratification is the best of its kind for Peru. He explains the frequently mentioned but obscurely defined Peruvian “comunidad indígena.” He handles historical materials well. The chapter on formal education is excellent. He makes creative use of his own field notes (I would like to have seen even more, but that is a matter of taste). He makes very imaginative use of the all important songs (huaynos) sung, played on radio and phonograph, and sold in song books all over Peru. This is a fine book.