Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Incanidad, indianidad
    El Nuevo Indio : ensayos indianistas sobre la sierra sur-peruana / José Uriel García. -- Cuzco, Perú : H.G. Rozas Sucesores, 1937
    p. [76]- 82
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    García, José Uriel. "Incanidad, indianidad." In El Nuevo Indio: ensayos indianistas sobre la sierra sur-peruana, 76-82. Cuzco, Perú: H.G. Rozas Sucesores, 1937.

In this fourth chapter of his book El Nuevo indio, José Uriel García defines the concepts of “Incanity” and “Indianity.” With the advent of the Spanish, the author explains, “the history of the Incas came to an end, and with it Inca life... what lived on was Indianity.” “The Incan,” then, is a concrete form that Indianity took on, whereas “the Indian” is a possibility or potential. García criticizes any stance that implies a return to the Inca period despite four centuries of Western influence that has oppressed, but also shaped, us. García asserts that there can be no originality in imitation and, hence, he proposes that Indianity emerge in another language, one in keeping with the times. He criticizes the fact that today’s indigenous peoples are considered “Incas,” since they are in fact mestizo peoples that have renewed their original customs with later traditions to give rise to a diverse consciousness. García posits that the concept of “Indianity” is as broad as the earth and everything that it implies; it goes beyond specific racial characteristics. He argues that there are two “Indianities,” one primitive, which forged the Inca period and its demise, and one that is embodied in an integrated “American spirit.”


A second strain of Indianism—known as “neo-Indianism,” in reference to the title of the book El nuevo indio by José Uriel García, the main framer of the movement—took hold in Cuzco in the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties. This movement contrasted with an earlier “Incanist” strain of Indianism led by Luis E. Valcárcel, a movement whose tenets were voiced in his book Tempestad en los Andes (1927). Whereas Valcárcel argued that the true native identity as well as contemporary indigenous culture should be envisioned as a vestige of the Incan, García proposed that “the Andean” be seen as an innovative reality, product of a fusion of native and Hispanic elements. García’s nationalist theory contained three parts: “El indio antiguo” (the Indian of the past), “El nuevo indio” (the new Indian), and “El pueblo mestizo” (the mestizo people) which—according to García’s idealist vision—came together to form “the Indian” in the different periods of Peruvian history. The prologue outlines the basis of the proposal, expressing a desire to replace ethnic determinism with historical and social consciousness. The book was first published in 1930; a second, amended version was published in 1937; and a third edition was published in 1973. Despite his ideological differences with García, Valcárcel edited that third version, which was published after García’s death and before he had time to finish revising it; this third edition, which included an appendix by García, evidences García’s theoretical orientation in his final years when his thinking was informed by Marxist thought.


See as well the prologue to the book El Nuevo indio (ICAA digital archive doc. no. 1136663).

Gabriela Germaná Roquez
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Courtesy of Uriel García Cáceres, Lima, Perú