2006 volume 38(5) pages 885 – 902

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Olson E, 2006, "Development, transnational religion, and the power of ideas in the High Provinces of Cusco, Peru" Environment and Planning A 38(5) 885 – 902

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Development, transnational religion, and the power of ideas in the High Provinces of Cusco, Peru

Elizabeth Olson

Received 30 June 2004; in revised form 5 January 2005

Abstract. I examine the enmeshment of transnationally networked religious organizations in predominantly Quechua communities in the southern Andes of Peru. I aim specifically to understand the multiple ways in which transnational religious organizations contribute to the construction of development epistemologies, or the socioeconomics of development truths. Peru has been undergoing a religious transformation similar to the rest of Latin America, with Evangelical and other non-Catholic faiths now well established in the rural highlands. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the Provincias Altas of Cusco, Peru, I examine the histories and organizational expressions of development truths promoted by the Iglesia Surandina (the Catholic Church of the Southern Andes), and the Iglesia Evangélica Peruana (the Peruvian Evangelical Church). The ways that these epistemologies become negotiated and translated in two rural districts reinforces the importance of historical context in the formation of development epistemologies, but it also suggests that organizational structures and differences in transnational processes contribute to the acceptance of or challenge to different sets of knowledge regarding development.

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