The owners : creative processes and personhood in the peasant community of San Pablo de Inkawasi (Lambayeque, Peru)

  • Luz Helena Martinez Santamaria

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis is an exploration of how the Quechua-speaking peasants of the community of
San Pablo de Inkawasi, in the Andes of northern Peru, make, grow or own things, domestic
plants and animals and their own children; and which shows how these creative processes—
and the bond of ownership that emerges from them—are central for articulating local
notions of sociality and personhood. The relation of ownership is also central for giving
meaning to their relations with the generative powers of the landscape and with the colonial
and postcolonial State. The focus of this thesis is on the bond of mastery or ownership,
responding to the necessity of underlining that all creative processes are thought of by the
Inkawasinos as a continuous relationship that long precedes and follows the actual
transformation (for example, the transformation of sheep wool into a poncho). Creative
processes are understood as appropriations—transforming something or someone into one’s
own—that create a permanent bond between creators and their creatures thought of in the
language of kin. The relations created between creators and their creatures, assimilated to
that between parents and children, are used to imagine a plural and unbounded person
composed of relations with humans and other-than-humans. Relations of mastery or
ownership are established not just between people and their belongings, but also between
people and other owners—human or not—including those to which the Inkawasinos belong
themselves: such as the mountains (Sirkakuna) or the Christian deities (Amitunchik). Mastery
has been historically at the centre of the relations with the colonial and post-colonial States,
which allows me to articulate personhood with the particular history of this Andean
community, and with the challenges its members face in a world of increasingly contested
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorTristan Platt (Supervisor) & Sabine Patricia Hyland (Supervisor)


  • Anthropology
  • Andes
  • Peru

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