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War of ShadowsThe Struggle for Utopia in the Peruvian Amazon$
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Michael Brown and Eduardo Fernandez

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780520074354

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520074354.001.0001

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Amachénga

Amachénga

Chapter:
(p.54) Three Amachénga
Source:
War of Shadows
Author(s):

Michael F. Brown

Eduardo Fernandez

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520074354.003.0006

Amachegua—more properly, amachénga or amachénka—is an Asháninka word for a class of mythical saviors. These good spirits present themselves to ordinary people as lightning bolts or as brilliantly plumed birds. Slavery was gradually replaced by less absolute but equally effective forms of exploitation. To keep their Indian laborers close to home, landowners were sometimes instrumental in helping Asháninkas secure land titles. From the 1920s onward, hundreds of Asháninkas chose to escape the threat of raids or the burdensome demands of white landowners by moving to the mission communities that sprang up throughout the region. By 1960, the Asháninka homeland had become an intricate social mosaic in which Indians no longer had a dominant place. They also grew tired of living as shadows in the blinding light of the white world, needed for their labor but despised for their way of life.

Keywords:   amachénga, Asháninka, slavery, Indian laborers, landowners

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