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This thesis presents the internal conflict in Peru from the perspective of the Peruvian peasantry in order to analyze and determine who joined, as well as the why they joined, including the various factors that may have motivated these people to join the Shining Path. Basing my analysis on a variety of individuals using the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s documents as well as other sources, I explore specific cases to determine the relationship between individual motivations and Sendero’s group cohesion. I stress that many of the motivating reasons and problems academics describe such as socio economic disparity, colonial and feudal legacies, racism towards the indigenous, and lack of state presence are still issues present in Peru making certain kinds of citizens susceptible to terrorism under alternative leadership. The state’s process of the dehumanization of terrorists and the lack of attention paid to their testimonies parallels the lack of interest in terrorist motivations. Furthermore, this thesis warns against the dangers of this process as it propagates the faulty idea that military intervention will solve this complex issue that continues to affect Peru’s security.

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Thesis Advisors: Jeff Cason and Roberto Pareja
Mellon Grant Project Advisor: Enrique García

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