Peru

Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Explore how indigenous peoples in Peru are adapting and innovating to preserve their cultural values and shape their own future in the face of globalization.

At a Glance

Credits

17

Prerequisites

4 semesters Spanish

Language of Study

Spanish, Quechua

Courses taught in

Spanish

Dates

Feb 24 ‎– Jun 7

Program Countries

Peru

Program Base

Cuzco

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

WHY STUDY INDIGENOUS IDENTITIES IN PERU?

Up to 45 percent of the population in Peru identifies as members of an indigenous community. Here, you will witness the impacts of globalization on indigenous peoples and be challenged to scrutinize the complexities of identity, transformation, and marginalization. You will have two homestays, one in urban Cuzco and a second on Taquile Island, where you will experience different Peruvian lifestyles, perspectives, and identities.

During three weeks of travel to the Peruvian Amazon, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, and the floating reed islands of the Uros people of Lake Titicaca, you’ll see how communities are working toward their own definition of development and cultural preservation. You will also learn about research methods and ethics, which will prepare you to conduct a month-long Independent Study Project on a topic of your choice related to the program themes.

In addition, you will learn basic Quechua and develop your Spanish language skills related to social and cultural studies through classroom learning, cultural immersion, homestays, and excursions.

Highlights

  • Examine how globalization impacts indigenous peoples and communities.
  • Rapidly advance your Spanish and learn introductory Quechua.
  • Travel throughout Peru for three weeks and live with two homestay families.
  • See how communities work toward their own development and cultural preservation.

Prerequisites

Four recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu

On this four-day excursion, you will visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas, explore archeological sites such as Ollantayambo, meet members of an indigenous community working with traditional textiles, and visit a project working with indigenous people. You will hike 16 kilometers to Machu Picchu over two days on the Inca Trail. During the trek, you will engage with local guides indigenous to the area, who will accompany your group along the trail, and experience diverse Andean ecosystems.

Peruvian Amazon – Madre de Dios

You will travel in Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon for one week, where you will attend lectures from indigenous leaders and participate in local community activities. For four days, you will  travel to indigenous communities and learn about Amazonian livelihoods and how indigenous peoples are confronting the impacts of globalization. Many of these indigenous groups have organized into the Native Federation of Madre de Dios (FENAMAD), which has achieved significant advances in defense of their territorial rights.

Lake Titicaca and Puno

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and the largest South American lake by volume. You will spend one night in Puno and visit the indigenous community of the Uros, Aymara people who live on floating totora reed islands. You will also travel to Taquile Island for four nights and live with a local family to learn about the Taquileños way of life. The island has been populated since the pre-Columbian period and remained almost isolated until the 1970s, until it was mentioned in the South American Tourism Handbook.

Arequipa and Colca Canyon

On this four-day excursion, you will visit Colca and Arequipa. You will also visit Colca Valley, the world’s second-deepest canyon, and home to the condor, one of the world’s largest birds. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Arequipa is known for its use of the volcanic white rock sillar in its buildings. It is surrounded by three volcanoes and integrates European and native building techniques and styles. Here you will visit museums and process your rural homestay learning experiences.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

This program will provide students with a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Andean and Amazonian indigenous peoples in Peru and the contemporary challenges these communities face. Students participate in a variety of research and cultural activities and learn from researchers, academics, professionals, practitioners, and community experts. Students will also learn Quechua and improve their Spanish language skills. They will study research methods and examine ethical issues surrounding field research related to the program themes. During the final month, students conduct an Independent Study Project.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Indigenous rights, advocacy, and policy
  • Community empowerment
  • Identity recognition
  • Historical legacies and contemporary social movements
  • Impacts of global changes on society, culture, economy, and ecology

History of Indigenous Cultures in Peru

History of Indigenous Cultures in Peru – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

The course begins with an examination of the history of Andean and Amazonian indigenous peoples in Peru. Students consider the prosperity and peacefulness of the precolonial period, the violence of the colonial era, and the birth and construction of the Peruvian republic, asking how indigenous populations were and were not included in the nationalist project. Students also learn about the cosmovisions of both Andean and Amazonian cultures, traditional conceptualizations of gender, land use, and other topics. With these foundations, students then shift toward contemporary issues, in particular focusing on urbanization processes as they have affected indigenous peoples. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Indigenous Peoples in Motion: Changes, Resistance, and Globalization

Indigenous Peoples in Motion: Changes, Resistance, and Globalization – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits)

In this seminar, students explore contemporary transformations of indigenous groups through multiple lenses. In particular, they analyze ethnic identity within the urban environment, examining indigenous migration and “cholification”, racism, and discrimination. They consider the ethnic component of political violence in Peru and study how indigenous peoples have mobilized resistance and organized to defend their cultures, territories, and local environments. Students study topics such as bilingual education movements, national law, and international rights for indigenous peoples, among other topics. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Quechua

Quechua – syllabus
(QUEC1001 / 1 credits)

This introductory course emphasizes building oral and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Formal instruction is enhanced by language practice during rural homestays and excursions.

Spanish for the Social Sciences

Spanish for the Social Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Social Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Social Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Social Sciences IV – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits)

In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading social science literature as they learn the theoretical terms and local expressions needed to discuss sociocultural issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings related to the program themes. Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

In this research methods course designed to prepare students for the Independent Study Project, students learn how to organize and conduct a research project. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice a range of basic social science methods. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to the program themes and are guided through the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

 

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Cuzco or other approved and appropriate locations in Peru, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Sample topic areas: the role of oral histories, legends, and myths in ethnocultural preservation; knowledge transmission; changing agricultural practices; ecotourism as a community development model; grassroots empowerment; interaction between urban and rural communities; generational dynamics in cultural pride and heritage; bicultural/bilingual education; conflicts between conservation and extractive industries.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Role of oral histories, legends, and myths in ethnocultural preservation
  • Grassroots empowerment
  • Ecotourism as a community development model
  • Interaction of urban-rural communities
  • Generational dynamics in cultural pride and heritage
  • Bicultural/bilingual education
  • Environmental conservation and extractive industry conflicts
  • Changing agricultural practices

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Homestays

Cuzco

Live with a host family for six weeks in one of two neighborhoods along Cuzco’s Avenida Cultural. Activities with your homestay family may include playing soccer in the neighborhood park, taking weekend trips, or joining in celebrations and religious holidays. Through daily conversations with host family members, you will discuss your impressions and experiences of Cuzco while exchanging cultural information and insights.

Taquile Island

You will spend four days living with a Quechua-speaking family on Taquile Island. In this community, you will become immersed in the daily routine of the Andean countryside, including assisting your families in sowing potatoes or grazing cows or sheep.

Other Accommodations

Hostels, private homes, and small hotels in the Amazon.

Career Paths

Students on this program represent a wide range of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to pursue academic and professional work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Community outreach coordinator at Escuela Verde, Milwaukee, WI

  • Researcher at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Ancon, Panama

Alumni are also advancing their studies through Fulbright, master’s, and PhD programs. Others are working in diverse areas, from the arts to academic fields related to social and economic issues.

Faculty & Staff

Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Alex Alvarez, PhD
Academic Director
Julia Catalán Cervantes
Rural Homestay Coordinator and Office Assistant
Sonia Fullerton
Program and Student Affairs Coordinator
Ana Hermoza, MA
Program Administrator

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown
  • ACCESSIBILITY

    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Aborad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact disabilityservices@sit.edu for more information.

    Accessibility Overview
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