Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Susana Raab

Perdido, Playa Agua Dulce, Lima, Peru 2009

Friends on Holiday, Mancora, Peru, 2009

Jovenes, Huanchaco, Peru 2011

Newlyweds, Huanchaco, Peru 2011

Day's End, Playa Agua Dulce, Lima, Peru 2011

Inca Dog, Pucusana, Peru, 2011

Family Outing, Huanchaco, Peru, 2011

Hermanos del Sierra, Huanchaco, Peru, 2011

Souvenir Ride, Huanchaco, Peru 2011

Eva, Playa Waikiki, Lima, Peru, 2011
Susana Raab

Cholo. This loaded term is first recorded in the 17th century in the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s Commentarios Reales de los Incas and is used to identify the offspring of native and black parents. The original meaning signifies a dog of disreputable origin, and was used by the colonial Spaniards as an insult. Today in Peru cholo, or its masculine or feminine diminutive (cholito/cholita) is a common phrase with positive and negative connotations depending on the context, and reflects the complex, unstated socio-economic rules by which modern day Peru continues to abide. Peruvian by birth and father, I left the country at the age of three when my parents divorced. Estranged from my father for nearly all my life, Peru has always been a sort of enigmatic talisman for me, a key piece of a fractured identity. When I first started visiting the country about ten years ago, I was surprised to find myself nicknamed cholita gringa by my friends and acquaintances. Surprised because cholo was a word that I heard used with hate and disgust as often as with affection. I began this project as an anthropological look at Peru, focusing on the coast, to dispel the common stereotype of the country as a quaint locale filled with poncho-wearing natives leading llamas down mountain paths and to find my own place within it. I want to represent this Peruvian under-class - the cholos sin plata, whose representation in modern society is often portrayed as dirty and disreputable, within a more neutral context, that of the shore – which democratizes their environment – and of course, I seek to find how, if at all, I relate to this master puzzle “We are two Perus,” a friend of mine often says. My face is white, but I often feel more comfortable around the cholos sin plata, who can be more open and embracing of me. As a cholita gringa I cannot reconcile myself to the two Perus. We are all cholita, half-breeds sprung from an original Ur-mother. Yes, and cholita es bonita.