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Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú

It could hardly be doubted that indigenous identities represent a highly important area of concern in social studies. The way people understand themselves, the world around them, and social relations within the society are considerably affected by their cultural background. This statement is especially relevant to indigenous people, whose social, psychological, and cultural premises are significantly different from those of the Western world. This paper aims to investigate how indigenous identities are defended and promoted by three different authors. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the writing by Guamán Poma de Ayala, Jose Carlos Mariátegui, and Rigoberta Menchú to compare and contrast their ideas about indigenous people.

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For the beginning of the discussion, it is essential to provide a brief overview of the authors’ personalities to put further analysis into proper context. The first author under consideration is Rigoberta Menchú. She is a Guatemalan woman whose family was killed by the Guatemalan army. Menchú is a social activist who is known to openly speak about the injustices of the life of indigenous people in Latin America. In 1992, she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to spreading awareness about social problems in Latin America. The second author is Jose Carlos Mariátegui, who was born in 1894 in a lower-middle-class family.

Due to the absence of his father, the author’s mother had to work as a seamstress, and thus Mariátegui spent his childhood in poverty. However, he was able to become a prominent journalist and writer who is known to speak for indigenous identities and promote social justice. Finally, it is essential to mention Guamán Poma de Ayala, who appears to be a significantly cryptic figure. Very little is known about him: there is no information concerning his birth and death and who his relatives were. However, it is known that he was a self-taught writer who left a significant legacy, describing the life of millions of native Peruvians in the 17th century.

Further, since it is essential to compare and contrast the mentioned authors’ accounts on indigenous identities, it is possible to state that one of the major differences is that every author describes a different country and culture. Menchú comes from Guatemalan background, and while Mariátegui and Poma were born and lived in Peru, their experience is significantly different because they lived in different time periods. These aspects have a significant influence on the positions of the writers. Menchú describes the life of poor Guatemalan people by exemplifying her life. She mentions poverty, lack of education, inaccessible medicine, the necessity to work hard, and other aspects.

This personal and highly empathetic approach could be contrasted with Mariátegui’s approach since he focuses more on such topics as economic evolution, the influence of religion on politics along with policies of regionalism and centralism. Poma’s perspective on the history of Peruvians is somewhat similar to Menchú’s position because he tends to view the history of his country from a very personal angle.

Another distinct aspect of Poma’s work is his perception of time that is considered to be elastic, unlike very strict dedication to the chronological order of years in Western chronicles. Overall, it could be stated that Menchú’s idea appears to be the most compelling among other authors’ perspectives since Mariátegui’s approach is significantly affected by his journalist background, and Poma’s chronicle reads more like a half-fictional, yet the considerably interesting perception of Peruvian history.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, May 10). Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú.

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"Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú." StudyCorgi, 10 May 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú." May 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú." May 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú." May 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Indigenous Identity: Ayala, Mariátegui and Menchú'. 10 May.

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