The International Association of Peruvianists was conceived in September 28, 1995, during the 19th Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Conference in Washington, DC. A number of scholars expressed then the need to create an independent organization devoted to the centralization of information and the coordination of activities from different disciplines (in the humanities, the social sciences and the hard sciences) whose main focus was on the country of Peru.
Many factors have contributed to the renewal of academic interest within the United States on the country of Peru. In the last fifteen years, more than 700,000 Peruvians left their country to escape either from the worst economic crisis in Peruvian history or from political violence. This fact has created a dynamic Peruvian culture that is in exile (for example, in the state of New Jersey alone there are more than 50,000 Peruvian immigrants) which reflect, follow their own heritage, and show new forms of assimilation in their current place of residence. At the same time, the gradual pacification of Peru during the 1990s and the stabilization of inflation has facilitated academic field research in that country, which was avoided during the 1980s due to the high risk of visiting a country in constant civil war.
Peruvian society both in the exile and at home, has become an interesting object of study for many disciplines. The long standing tradition of pre-Hispanic cultures as well as current environmental concerns represent only a part of a wide array of academic interests.
The purpose of the Association then, is to serve as a resource center for both disseminating academic information and stimulating an exchange of knowledge and activities that many Peruvianists may not find readily in their own institutions or localities. The only condition for them to become a part of this organization is their interest and professional work related to Peru.
At the Latin American Studies Association conference, a group of academians of long experience decided to constitute an Advisory Committee and to delegate the executive command to three scholars in order to carry out the project. The Advisory Committee is formed by professors Rolena Adorno (Yale University), John Beverley (University of Pittsburgh), Raúl Bueno (Dartmouth College), Sara Castro-Klarén (Johns Hopkins University), Raquel Chang-Rodríguez (City University of New York), Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez (New York University), Antonio Cornejo-Polar Ý (University of California, Berkeley), Miguel Maticorena (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima), Luis Millones (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima), Julio Ortega (Brown University), Guido Podestá (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Doris Sommer (Harvard University). The Executive Committee and Board of Directors is formed by professors José Antonio Mazzotti (Harvard University), U. Juan Zevallos-Aguilar (Dartmouth College) and Christian Fernández (Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge).
The Executive Committee has since distributed an announcement about the creation of the organization and called other interested scholars about participating in the project. There are already eighty-five honorary members and it is expected that many more will be engaged in the project during the next year. The main means of communication has been through electronic mail. A collective account ("firstname.lastname@example.org") has been opened at Temple University, where the Secretary of the Association used to work.
The Association has been disseminating information about academic activities both in Peru and the United States, such as the International Conference on the work of the mestizo writer Inca Garcilaso de la Vega at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana (April 1996), the International Course on Andean Cultures and Quechua Language organized by the Centro de Estudios Regionales Bartolomé de las Casas in Cuzco (July 1996) and the International Conference on Peru at the end of the 20th century, organized by the University of Lima (September 1996), which the Executive Committe of the Association was invited to participate. The Association has also been engaged in receiving queries about other future activities and conferences and the Executive Committee has been able to connect the members to someone who might have an answer for them. At the same time, some members have had other inquiries of a professional matter, such as the location of specific book editions or films that might help them to pursue a research project or to organize a class about Peru in their institutions. With this in mind, the Executive Committee sent a questionnaire asking for book titles that might be hard to find in the United States. The Executive Committee will then forward this information to different book distributors to check on their availability, at no charge for the member of the Association.
However, the purpose of the Association is to go much further and to establish three principal lines of activities in the future years. The Association will spend a third of its time on each one of these lines of activities. First, would be to create an Information Bank including updated bibliographical data and information about other artistic and cultural expressions, such as music, film, photography, theather and scientific patents from Peru. This information will be available to anyone interested, and will be updated on a week to week basis, provided that different editorial houses and research centers around the world send notice of their new titles or productions. The second activity would be to have a General Conference every two years. It would be held in either Peru or the United States. Lastly, is to have a Plan of Publications. This will include the papers presented at each conference as well as other works the Association considers important for the advancement and completion of current research on Peru.
The Information Bank.
With respect to the first activity, the Association has already started with a modest Information Bank via e-mail. A bibliography of publications since 1995 includes several titles from different disciplines. However, the fact remains that the existing list is still incomplete. The Association intends to create short summaries of each title both in English and Spanish by members of a committee within the Association. In this way, anyone looking for a specific subject will save time when looking for the title and/or summary. The task of acquiring the book or article will be of the responsibility of each researcher, but the Association will be in a position to help with information about which distributor or bookstore has the book. For the moment, basic range of this activity will be the United States and Peru. The Association expects to extend its services to Europe, Latin America and the world. To facilitate access to this specialized information on Peru, the Association plans to make it available to anyone who has access to cyberspace on the internet, and the service will be free of charge.
Another important part of this activity is the information about courses, conferences, lectures and seminars going on Latin America. This aspect of the Information Bank has also been initiated, but the Association is still in the process of contacting non-governmental-organizations as well as private and public institutions that may be interested in using the Association's access to the internet as a means for announcing their activities. Since many conferences on Latin America generally include panels on Peru, the Association will be interested in highlighting such sessions so that any one might take advantage of the information which might help in their own research.
At the same time, the honorary members of the Association will be able to submitt their course syllabi in order to receive suggestions from other specialists in their area. This will facilitate the enrichment of the members' teaching syllabus. In addition, the Association's Information Bank may keep a record of their academic performance for future members.
The Information Bank will also help to stimulate specialized debate on current topics and will serve as an open arena to any suggestion a member might decide to make. At the same time, committees formed from each important academic field will be able to exchange ideas that will be centralized in the Information Bank, so as to be readily available to whomever wants it.
The General Conference.
The Association organized its first conference on April 29-May 1, 1999 at the Harvard University campus. Most papers are available at the URL address < http://fas.harvard.edu/~icop >
The Plan of Publications.
At this moment, the IAP has one book published: Asedios a la heterogeneidad cultural. Libro de homenaje a Antonio Cornejo Polar, edited by José Antonio Mazzotti and U. Juan Zevallos-Aguilar (Philadelphia, International Association of Peruvianists, 1996. 528 pp. ISBN: 0-9655345-0-2). The IAP is currently looking for funds for future publications.
The IAP also plans to have this permanent Web-page as a means to disseminate Andean publications at no cost. Suggestions and proposals about new manuscripts are most welcome. They will be reviewed by the Publications Committee and, if scholarly sound, published in this page under the title New Publications.