From Sharecroppers to Lancheros: Afro-Peruvians in Tambo de Mora, 1895–1932

Saturday, January 4, 2014: 12:10 PM
Congressional Room B (Omni Shoreham)
Roberto Sanchez, Gallaudet University
This paper uses local manuscript censuses from 1895, 1918, and 1932 to trace the migration of Afro-Peruvians from the rural southern coastal towns in the department of Ica northward to the port city of Tambo de Mora.  This port is historically significantly because it linked local and regional markets to Lima, as well as transport passengers traveling to the province of Chincha.  The censuses provide evidence that Afro-Peruvians were transformed from agricultural day laborers and cotton sharecroppers to independent fishermen, boatmen, and dockworkers.  They were engaged in the entrepreneurial activities of the port and were able to ameliorate their social and economic status as they became more self-sufficient.  The ethnic and racial diversity of this labor force fueled the growth of a fishing and transportation port with linkages to regional and national markets.  Their history points to the contributions of Afro-Peruvians and other social groups to the modernization of Peru, thereby, contributing to a deeper understanding of the social and economic development of the southern coastal region of Peru.

            I submit that the process of migration from the rural countryside to a bustling but modest port town such as Tambo de Mora constituted a form of cultural and social mestizaje for Afro-Peruvians.  The manuscript censuses reveal a changing ethnic landscape with residents from Italy, Spain, China, and Japan, in addition to Peruvians of indigenous, mixed, and African descent.  Moreover, the data uncovered supports the valuable ethnographic sketches provided by travelers of the region such as Ernst Middendorf as well as newspapers and journals of late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

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