We Are More Than Meets the Eye

Background?

Prior to this research project looking into any indigenous group around the world, I did not know anything about Quechua people of Perú. I had known that Perú had a few indigenous groups, but I knew that many of the tribe members strayed from their practices because of intercultural mixing, so I assumed that there would not be many people to make up the Quechua, which I was wrong about.

What Did I Learn?

The largest indigenous group in Perú is the Quechua. These people are suffering major human rights violations legally, medically, and socially. Because they are poor from being swept aside in the political realm, and do not speak Spanish, they cannot advocate for themselves to fight against mining waste dumping, ridiculous and harmful medical operations, or even obtain health care. They are unable to rid themselves of child malnutrition, fight against domestic violence, and have no access to sexual education. The Quechua people raise alpacas, which is very interesting and funny, and the children are becoming increasingly interested in learned their traditional language and customs.

By studying a new culture, my desire to travel to and work in Latin America as a volunteer, aiding whomever is in need of help, has solidified. I learned that there are more people than we think who wish to revive their traditions and culture, but because of records and majorly decreased numbers of people, it can be difficult or even impossible to learn languages and customs.

Challenges

My ethnocentrism and critical cultural relativism was put to the test when I learned about the female circumcision, the poverty from uncaring government with no health care, or economic improvement, and the Quechua’s inability to stand against the mining companies destroying them. Within my sources, I noticed ethnocentrism with the topics people decided to cover, or not cover. It was difficult to find many intra-culture stories and sources, so there was most likely quite a bit of relevant (but not necessarily extremely important) information missing.

How Was My Project Ethnographic?

I believe that my research of the Quechua was ethnographic because I collected as much information as I could find with trustworthy resources. It was difficult to know what information was correct and researched, and what websites were reiterated information from other websites. Learning about the Quechua traditions via YouTube was difficult, because in such a poor community, there probably are not many videos being taken, whether they be on phones or actual cameras, however the videos I found contributed to my ethnographic research because I was taking in everything being offered to me.

What Will I Take Away?

At the beginning of the quarter, I did not want to write blog posts for assignments, as I do not care for schooling to be electronic, even though it seems to be switching to this form as technology progresses, and people become more accustomed to using these resources. Using the Pierce College library databases, cultural specific websites such as Cultural Survival, and Perú’s government websites, as well as essentially creating my own mini-website has prepared me for the types of assignments my future professors and employers may require me to use.

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