Hiroyasu Tomoeda and Luis Millones believe that mestizaje is still an ongoing process in the Andes, permeating every aspect of that culture. Therefore their book intends to reopen the mestizaje debate; an important issue, considering the timing of the publication. The book’s central theme relates to the assumption that lo Inca is a historical reality that became an “ideal model” once it ceased to exist, and lo mestizo is that weight of the past totally integrated into its present being (p. 3). All the essays in the volume focus on situations where Andean mestizaje has been or is being constructed. Based on various studies of the south-central Andes of Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina, the essays also reflect a multidisciplinary approach.
In the first essay, Thierry Saignes and Therese Bouysse-Cassagne discuss the mestizo from the indigenous and Spanish perspectives and examine the disturbances in Laicacota, Bolivia, in the latter sixteenth century. In a related essay, Martin Lienhard analyzes the effects of colonization on discourse. He is concerned with “basic linguistic attitudes,” in particular the behavior of Quechua vis-à-vis its historic interaction with Spanish.
Teresa Gisbert and Luis Millones explore the mestizaje theme in other ways. Millones examines the life of Santa Rosa of Lima by reconstructing her perception of indigenous society. In contrast, Gisbert discusses the role of the curacas of the Collao region in the configuration of a mestizo culture. Gisbert convincingly argues that the mestizo elements depicted in the coat of arms, paintings, architecture, and textiles commissioned and used by the curacas were not only a form of expression but also a way to convey the culture of their ideological world (p. 73).
Osvaldo Silva Galdames and Ana Maria Lorandi examine mestizaje from the perspective of the frontier. Silva Galdames explores what he calls an “ethnic frontier in Chile, where new political boundaries failed to lead to ethnic group formation (p. 127). For northwest Argentina, Lorandi describes an interethnic mestizaje among the different indigenous groups that were forced to move into the region (for example, Chichas, as Inca mitmaq) or out of it (Quilmes, resettled on the outskirts of Buenos Aires). Lorandi’s essay also sheds light on the configuration of new ethnic groups.
In the last two essays, Jorge Flores Ochoa and Hiroyasu Tomoeda shift attention to the mestizo as a component of urban Cuzco. Flores Ochoa discusses the incanismo tradition and its expression in contemporary Inti Raymi. In contrast, Tomoeda explores the multiform mestizaje of contemporary Cuzco by focusing on the techniques of curanderos.
The book’s multidisciplinary approach is highly commendable. Andeanists and colonial historians will be challenged to look at mestizaje in a new light.