Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How do traditional societies change as a result of contact with the modern age?

06.11.2013
A Treasure from the Archives

How do traditional societies change as a result of contact with the modern age? You can only tell if you know what they looked like before that. For the rural culture of the Peruvian Chancay Valley, this has just become easier–with help from the University of Bonn, a Peruvian anthropologist just saved 50-year-old records about this region from oblivion.

For centuries, the small rural village somewhere in the mountains slept its peaceful sleep. Peacefully, the locals followed their ancient traditions. Then, a street came. Then, electricity. Then, the first TV. And today, only a few years later, the locals don't even recognize themselves anymore. The way in which established societies change under the influence of global one-size-fits-all culture is a research subject in Anthropology – and such studies require descriptions of what those societies used to look like before the road, electricity and TV arrived. Anthropologist Dr. Juan Javier Rivera Andía calls this “filling the ethnographic gap.” This is exactly what he did for his own homeland, the Peruvian Andes. He rediscovered the long-lost records of a fellow anthropologist, and edited them for publication. He was able to find the last pieces of this academic puzzle during a research stay at the University of Bonn's Institute for Archeology and Cultural Anthropology. “The Department of Anthropology of the Americas there has always had a significant reputation regarding Andean cultures research.” Dr. Rivera Andía's stay at Bonn was supported by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation.

The earliest documents date from 1962

The rediscovered records were from the Peruvian anthropologist and musician Alejandro Vivanco Guerra (1910-1991). They tell about everyday customs and music, myths and legends, and the cultural and religious life of rural culture in the valley of the Chancay River, which is about 120 kilometers long and empties into the Pacific some 60 kilometers north of Lima. According to Dr. Rivera Andía, Vivanco traveled to this region “at least three times between 1962 and 1982.” It is not known whether there were additional research trips because three notebooks (of probably 15) are still lost. Alejandro Vivanco was not the only researcher studying the Chancay Valley – but it was his work in particular that awakened Dr. Rivera Andía's interest. For Vivanco was “the only scholar who actually spoke the language of the people there” – namely Quechua, formerly the language of the Inca Empire and still the third most frequently spoken language in South America.

According to Dr. Rivera Andía, finding the dozen of Vivanco's notebooks we have now was already “some kind of treasure hunt.” When he himself went on his first trip to the Chancay Valley in 1999, he noticed that “Vivanco had published very little about his field studies – and I wondered why.“ Dr. Rivera Andía was certain that Vivanco must have left some records behind, even though initially, there were no real indications. “Nobody had mentioned the existence of such records anywhere, neither in a publication nor a lecture.” Dr. Rivera Andía searched for dependents of the scholar, who today is almost completely forgotten also in Peru, and he finally found his widow. And in her house, Vivanco's documents.

Difficult translation from Quechua

Dr. Juan Javier Rivera Andía wrote out the 12 notebooks page for page, as well as the many examples of musical pieces that Vivanco (an impassioned player of the native Quena flute) had recorded in the Chancay region. The scholar reconstructed the itinerary his predecessor had followed, and if information on individual topics was found in several different places in the notebooks, he compiled it into tables and lists – such as, from which local native sources Vivanco had received his information. A particular difficulty during editing was translating the Quechua terms (such as place and landscape names) Vivanco had provided – for the specific Quechua dialect of the Chancay Region is almost completely extinct now.

“Just about everything we know today about the region's cultural heritage comes from Alejandro Vivanco,” explains the Peruvian expert, and that Vivanco’s records “provide an accurate picture of an indigenous culture that is going through very rapid and profound changes due to the modernization of society.” To ensure that this knowledge cannot get lost a second time, Vivanco's notebooks are now being safeguarded in the library of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima.

Publication: Alejandro Vivanco Guerra: Una etnografía olvidada en los Andes. El Valle del Chancay (Perú) en 1963. Edición de Juan Javier Rivera Andía. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. 344pp., 44 euros

Contact:

Dr. Juan Javier Rivera Andía
Email: jjriveraandia@gmail.com

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://editorial.csic.es/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Engineering cooperation
05.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Research project: EUR 3.3 million for improved quality of life in shrinking cities
02.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>