Conference Explores Aftermath of Shining Path

On February 11, 2016, the UC Davis Hemispheric Institute on the Americas hosted an international conference on “The Aftermath of the Shining Path: Memory, Violence, and Politics in Peru.” 

The conference, held mostly in Spanish, brought together renowned scholars, archivists and journalists to discuss the vicious war that stretched from 1980 to 1992 and its aftermath. [Watch videos of the talks.]

Led by Abimael Guzmán or Presidente Gonzalo, the Maoist Shining Path began in Ayacucho in the highlands and spread throughout much of the country. Both their tactics as well as the response by the Peruvian military were brutal, resulting in over 70,000 dead and hundreds of thousands forced to flee. Indigenous peasants bore the brunt of this violence and displacement.

Building on the 2003 report of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, analysts have begun to piece together how this movement emerged and why the violence escalated. Recent memoirs, local analyses and explorations in "memory studies" have enriched this process and fostered much debate. The conference features the authors of many of these key works.

The conflict still casts a long shadow on Peru and the nation remains divided. For example, many have celebrated the recent inauguration of the commemoration site, the Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia y la Inclusión Social (The Place for Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion), while others have demanded its closing.

This conference aimed to contribute to the passionate discussions taking place in Peru and beyond about violence, memory and justice.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Sciences, the Davis Humanities Institute, Department of History, Native American Studies Department, Department of Political Science, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Center for the Study of Human Rights in the America and the Human Rights Program.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science