Threads of My Life and New Turns for a Discussion on Indigenous Testimonio: Reframing Identity and The Indigenous as Epistemology

Claudia A. Arteaga

 

Abstract

 

Threads of My Life. The testimonio of Hilaria Supa, a Rural Quechua Woman is an account of a Peruvian indigenous activist’s life published in 2001. In it, Hilaria Supa Huamán makes a call to rural and Andean societies to reconnect with forgotten cultural practices in order to fight against state and everyday forms of racism and violence. This article argues that Threads of My Life in combining writing with other modes of collective knowledge positions the book as intercultural artifact seeking to “re-educate” the runas (“human” in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in the region where Supa comes from)By doing so, the testimonio aims at reversing the process of modernization that have affected the life and integrity of indigenous communities in the Andes. This article locates the study of testimonio beyond the dichotomy writing vs orality that has been used to frame an understanding of indigenous voices or, more importantly, attest to their authenticity. In contrast, this article seeks to reflect on the dynamics of race, gender and ethnicity that are at stake in Supa’s personal account and in the way in which the indigenous as an identity contests hierarchical structure that subordinates it locally and nationally.

 

Keywords

 

Indigenous studies, testimonio.

 

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