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Local Voices

Local Voices

The Peasant Community of Vicos, in the Peruvian Andes, was the scene of one of the most well-known applied anthropology programs in Latin America: the Cornell-Peru Project, an ambitious modernization and rural development initiative. Although the Cornell-Peru Project continued for more than 10 years-from 1952 to 1962, with specific activities from 1962 to 1966-and had a significant impact on the future of the community of Vicos, by the 1970's some investigators had already observed that Vicosinos were starting to forget the project and its interventions (Martínez, 1989; Stein, 2000).

Memory: Vicos Then and Now

Almost fifty years after the Cornell-Peru Project, in 2003 the Living Memory Project was initiated in the same community. Following preliminary contacts between Cornell University and the NGO, The Mountain Institute, several exploratory interviews and consultations were carried out with Vicosinos early in 2003 by The Mountain Institute and another NGO, Urpichallay Association. Interviews were conducted about Vicosinos' memories and knowledge of the Peru-Cornell Project and their interest (and reasons for) recovering information related to that project. As was to be expected, the older people interviewed had more memories or information, but in many cases they did not agree. The younger people interviewed had no memories of the Cornell- Peru Project since they had not lived it and the record of that experience had almost completely disappeared from Vicos even though researchers had produced a large corpus of published data. The archive in Vicos had been destroyed (see the link above). Nevertheless, when consulted about their interest in recovering information about the Cornell- Peru Project, Vicosinos showed a high level of enthusiasm.

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