Zulen, Pedro S., and Dora Mayer de Zulen

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Zulen, Pedro S., and Dora Mayer de Zulen

Pedro S. Zulen (b. 1889; d. 1925) and Dora Mayer de Zulen (b. 1868; d. 1957), Peruvian intellectuals and leaders of the indigenismo movement. Indigenismo has been one of the most controversial aspects of social reform in modern Peru. Alive since the 1880s in the essays of writers like Ricardo Palma, Clorinda Matto De Turner, and Manuel González Prada, the movement rests on the idea that the culture of the indigenous Andean population is at the core of the country's culture and should receive its due recognition. Several strategies were developed in the early twentieth century to make this idea a reality. Some of the proponents of indigenismo worked directly in the highland center of Cuzco, where under the leadership of men like archaeologist Luis E. Valcárcel, the movement became intertwined with the drive to end the abuse of villagers at the hands of landlords. In Lima early-twentieth-century intellectuals, under the leadership of Pedro Zulen and Dora Mayer, sought to unify urban, sophisticated culture with their Andean roots. To do this they founded the Pro-Indigenous Association in 1909. In a weekly newsletter, El Deber Pro-Indígena, they fought for legal relief of Andean misery. Senator Joaquín Capelo and José Antonio Encinas later joined their legal struggle. Soon delegates of the Pro-Indigenous Association throughout the country began reporting in the press and in the association newsletter injustices committed against indigenous people. The association recruited lawyers to defend villagers, and to arouse public opinion it sponsored public debates. The Zulens hoped thus to prod the legislature into passing remedial legislation. After 1919 the government of President Augusto Leguía undermined the effectiveness of the association by absorbing its more important efforts into government programs. Laws, decrees, and resolutions reflecting the influence of the indigenistas were passed, but Leguía did not try to enforce them against the opposition of major highland landowners. Many highland villagers thereafter became more aware of their legal rights, and by the mid-1920s the indigenista movement had been absorbed into the revolutionary and reformist political movements taking shape in Peru.

See alsoIndigenismo; Indigenous Peoples; Leguía Augusto Bernardino.


Eugenio Chang Rodríguez, La literatura política de González Prada, Mariátegui, y Hay a de la Torre (1957).

Thomas M. Davies, Jr., Indian Integration in Peru: A Half Century of Experience, 1900–1948 (1974).

José Tamayo Herrera, Historia del indigenismo cuzqueño: Siglos xvi-xx (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Castro Carpio, Augusto. Filosofía y sociedad en el Perú. Lima, Perú: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2003.

Veres, Luis. Periodismo y literatura de vanguardia en América Latina: el caso peruano. Moncada, Valencia, Spain: Ajuntament de Valencia, 2003.

                                         Vincent Peloso