Cover for SELIGMANN: Peruvian Street Lives: Culture, Power, and Economy among Market Women of Cuzco. Click for larger image

Peruvian Street Lives

Culture, Power, and Economy among Market Women of Cuzco
Awards and Recognition:

Cited as one of two Leeds Honor Books for 2006 by the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA).

A cultural study of the lives and struggles faced by women vendors in the open-air markets of the Andean highlands of Cuzco

For more than twenty years Linda J. Seligmann has walked the streets of Peru in city and countryside alike, talking to the women who work in the informal and open-air markets of the Andean highlands of Cuzco. In this readable ethnography, composed of vignettes and accompanied by a superb series of photographs, Seligmann offers a humane yet incisive portrayal of their lives.

Peruvian Street Lives argues that the sometimes invisible and informal economic, social, and political networks market women establish, although they may appear disorderly and chaotic, in fact often keep dysfunctional economies and corrupt bureaucracies from utterly destroying the ability of citizens to survive from day to day. Seligmann asks why the constructive efforts of market women to make a living provoke such negative social perceptions from some members of Peruvian society, who see them as symbols and actual catalysts of social disorder, domestically and publicly.

The book traces the impact on market women and market activities of distant yet enormously powerful forces, such as economic globalization. At the same time it shows how market women eke out a living, combat discrimination, and creatively transgress existing racial and gender ideologies, within the rich and expressive cultural traditions they have developed.

"Peruvian Street Lives captures the lives, the daily rhythms, passions, and politics of the women who crowd Cuzco's markets and streets. Seligmann breaks through surface understandings and misperceptions of these women and their work and offers us a rich stew, a close view of their everyday challenges and the cultural logic of the Andean marketplace. I look forward to using this book in teaching."--Florence Babb, professor of anthropology and women's studies at the University of Iowa


Linda J. Seligmann is a professor of anthropology and coordinator of the anthropology program at George Mason University. She is the author of Between Reform and Revolution: Political Struggles in the Peruvian Andes, 1969-1991, and editor of Women Traders in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Mediating Identities, Marketing Wares.

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