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Cecilia Méndez Gastelumendi

I am a Peruvian historian specialized in the social and political history of the Andean region during the national period, Peru, in particular. After graduating as a licenciada in History at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Lima), in 1986, I took a teaching position at the Universidad Nacional de Huamanga, in Ayacucho. At that time, Ayacucho’s mostly rural and Quechua-speaking hinterland had become the epicenter of the political violence unleashed by Shining Path’s (Sendero Luminoso’s) insurgency in 1980. Deemed the biggest insurrection in the history of Peru, and the bloodiest in modern Latin America, the inner war, which spanned from 1980 to 2000, claimed nearly 70,000 lives, most of them Quechua-speaking peasants. My experience in Ayacucho, which was prior to my pursual of graduate studies in the U.S., turned out to be decisive in my professional choices. Henceforth, the largest part of my research has been devoted to the study of the role of Andean peasant society in Peru’s national life.


  • –present
    Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara