Punk and Revolution: 7 More Interpretations of Peruvian Reality.
Shane Greene, an associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University, engages in a dialectic with Jose Carlos Mariategui's 1928 work, Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality, through the perspective of the Peruvian punk movement of the 1980s. Mariategui sought to nationalize Marxism to solve the country's problems of poverty, lack of education, agrarian reform, the role of religion and the indigenous population, as well as regional versus centralized government. In fact, he coined the phrase "shining path toward revolution," that was appropriated by Abimael Guzman's Maoist-inspired terrorist group during the 1980s and 1990s that led to over 60,000 deaths in Peru during this period of national strife (75).
Greene proposes: "I'm not talking about what punk is in essence. Rather, I have an interest in thinking about what punk intends to be, punk as a peculiar way of directing one's attention" (7). In his seven interpretations, he inverts the problem of the Indian to become the problem of the pituco while contrasting the cholo-punk with the pituco-punk. This distinction is class and ethnic based, since the cholo tends to be the indigenous immigrant to Lima, whereas the pituco comes from the middle to upper-class stratum of society. As a consequence, the cholo-punks were perceived as more of a threat to the nation as more representative of the rural base that made up the bulk of the Shining Path's revolutionary movement; hence, they suffered more persecution from the state since they generally had more violence present at their concerts in the more marginalized Lince area of Peru. On the other hand, the more peaceful pituco-punks were connected to power structures and played in the Bohemian area of Barranco with few repercussions. Both groups fall under the category of subterranean rock, which is used almost as a synonym for subversive rock even though rock for some of them was the medium of the imperialist oppressors. Because of this, "Faced with a war over Peru's past and future, the pestilence surrounded the subtes head and wouldn't leave them be, Lima's punk revolution really began as an act to denounce violence and express a position for life" (35).
Greene incorporates serious academic approaches along with a tongue-in-cheek mixture of profanity, photographs from the artistic group NN (No Name), concert fliers, interviews with band members, and copies of his blog to analyze the punk movement from the point of view of an intellectual punk who rebels against the staid academic writing prevalent in the field. As an example of his disdain for following the norms of academic writing, he incorporates slang in the midst of serious commentary in phrases such as, "The voice's relative invisibility is overcome by the tongue's straightforward thingamajigity" (87). The result is that his analysis is thought-provoking, yet has the style of the sneering punk who rebels for the sake of rebellion and refusal to be typecast. Is this work a serious academic query into the impact of punk as a political statement or a ludic, subversive challenge to the reader to question authority on all levels without adhering to any dogma? Most likely, it is both.
The photographs that Greene includes are powerful reminders of the violence that swept through Peru during the Shining Path war against the state and he does an excellent job of explaining how punk artists used images from the popular media outlets to create their own statements to criticize consumer culture in the manner of Andy Warhol. His numerous interviews with participants from the punk scene follow up on what happened to the bands and artists in, during, and after the war on terrorism in Peru. Many went into exile or were tortured as suspected members of the Shining Path. Others were killed. The book is a harrowing tale of what life was like during this dark period of Peruvian history.
The final interpretation is staged as a drunken encounter between Jose Carlos Mariategui and Mikhail Bakhtin in the subterranean world of Lima that includes cartoon depictions of the two revolutionaries. This is playful conclusion to the punk movement that pits the Peruvian and the Russian thinkers as precursors of the punk movement for their subversive stands against the norms prevalent in their societies. As a postscript, Greene gives a web link to a site where the reader can download the music of the punks, which puts his work into context. Despite his punk approach, nevertheless, he also offers his punk and revolution tee-shirt for sale on the site as well as a video of his punk band playing a song in Spanish. This book would be of interest to students and professors of anthropology, political science, popular culture, and literature seeking to understand the multi-faceted Peruvian reality of the 1980s and 1990s.
Armstrong State University
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|Title Annotation:||LATIN AMERICA|
|Publication:||Journal of Global South Studies|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2017|
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