Unity and Difference in Andean Songs


This essay explores the concepts of “unity” and “difference” in Andean songs. The verses pertain to the Masha ritual enacted annually in Mangas, central Peru, and combine Quechua (the indigenous language) with Spanish. Through detailed exegesis of the texts, this essay argues that, far from being irreconcilable, “unity” and “difference” are best understood as mutually informing since the recognition of difference opens up the parameters of potential exchange. This optic is informed by a worldview that emphasizes “relation” over “entities.”



The seventeenth-century church in Mangas, focus of the Masha festival.

Photo: Charles Maurice Pigott.

The church’s straw roof, which is traditionally replaced every year.

Photo: Charles Maurice Pigott.

The main square of Mangas, which separates Kotos from Allawkay, and where the bullfight is enacted.

Photo: Charles Maurice Pigott.

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