Date of Degree


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Shirley Lindenbaum

Committee Members

Michael Blim

Maria Lagos

Patricia Mathews Salazar

Subject Categories



This dissertation ethnographically examines the inconsistencies experienced by district residents in the historic and nature Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, over the Peruvian government's drive to implement neoliberal policies. Heritage conservation in the southern Peruvian Andes is increasingly shaped by current neoliberal policies. The people who live in the district of Machu Picchu live in a protected area that gives the state expropriating powers to claim the land as a public good. The central problem is that under neoliberalism, a public asset is used for private gain at the expense of residents. Inhabitants experience changing juridical relationships as a contradiction between the neoliberal claim of a free market, and the hand of the government creating conditions that select some over others.

My inquiry focuses on the actions of a mobilization formed out of small-middle scale entrepreneurs' operating in a tourism economy. I explore the intersection between governance and the market economy through the lens of dispossession, and I argue that by reframing public goods in neoliberal terms, the stage was set for dispossessing inhabitants. Heritage conservation and economic structural adjustment involve incompatible forms of credibility that either justify the "takings" of rights, civil-status and the public resources accommodating larger capital investments, or discredit the legitimacy of governing authorities.


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