by Florence Babb, author of Women’s Place in the Andes: Engaging Decolonial Feminist Anthropology
One of the pleasures of seeing my new book Women’s Place in the Andes: Engaging Decolonial Feminist Anthropology in print is sharing it with those who made the work possible. I was thrilled when my book appeared in June, just in time to take copies with me the following month to Peru. I showed it off in the capital city of Lima, the Andean town of Huaraz, and the rural community of Vicos—all sites of my long-term research. While the book is now in English and not readily accessible to my research collaborators and friends in Peru, people I showed the book to were most captivated by the photos.
Some of the most surprised and pleased reactions were in Vicos, where older residents recall the years of the Cornell-Peru Project of the mid-twentieth century, which I discuss in my work. Here, photos document their delight in seeing photos of themselves and their neighbors woven into the text. I’m gratified that the book is already under contract for translation and publication in Spanish in Peru, so that my next visit there will include distributing copies widely in my research sites. Whether people actually read the work or not, I’ve found that offering books is a cherished form of reciprocity in the Andes, perhaps akin to giving gifts of food or other items that show affection and respect. When a book’s subject engages in a serious way with a region’s cultural heritage, it is all the more deeply appreciated.
Conversations about research results and publications become part of the ongoing ethnographic research itself as people open up and talk further about what matters most to them. Women’s Place in the Andes is already generating lively conversations about social life past and present, and about hopes and dreams for the future. This is reflected in two photos that accompany this blog post: the first shows a young woman from Vicos working with me to interview another woman of that community, and the second shows the same woman six years later and living in Lima as she looks over my newly released book. Her remarkable life story of migration, hard work, and personal growth may be discerned in these images.