Geographies of difference: Place, race, and modernity in Amazonian migrant livelihoods in Cusco, Peru

Diana C Steele Jones, Purdue University


This dissertation offers a historical and ethnographic analysis of the role of intersecting discourses of place, race, and modernity in the identities and projects of young people moving between their home communities in southern Peruvian Amazonia to the highland Andean city of Cusco. I develop the concept of geographies of difference to comprehensively examine historically sedimented meanings of place and how they converge in migrants’ lives. I use the concept as a lens for ethnographic analysis of the role of place-based notions of difference and culture in informing migrants’ projects to “get ahead” and customize modern identities, and of the power of mobility in pursuing those projects. I take a feminist political ecological approach to foreground the spatial dimensions of race, difference, power, inequality, and modernity; and to focus on place-specific histories, lifeways, and interactions as they unfold within the context of power relations and cross-scale dynamics. In doing so, I contribute a perspective of migration that recognizes migration as flexible and ongoing; as strategic and agentive, yet restricted and contextualized by structures of power and inequality; and as achieving not just physical mobility, but ideological mobility across meaning-laden places and boundaries.




Zanotti, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Latin American Studies|Ethnic studies

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