Joy Miller To Study Indigenous Cultural Identity in Peru on Fulbright Grant

August 14, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— J. Joy Miller, a 2002 graduate of Amherst College, has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship for postgraduate study overseas. Miller will study the nature of indigenous identity in Peru, and its connections to the state and popular culture. Miller is the daughter of Cathryn Ann Miller of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In her application, Miller wrote that Peru is “a nation in which “Indianness” is perceived as an inferior social condition rather than as an ethnic category. Yet the Peruvian government has at various points promoted indigenous culture as that which is authentically Peruvian.” Specifically, she points to the early 1970s, where “the Ministry of Education’s newly created National Institute of Culture was active in promoting the nueva canción movement, a popular music movement that spread throughout Latin America. Nueva Canción not only expressed outrage at the brutal political repression of the period, but drew from Andean indigenous tradition to advance a national and Pan-American cultural identity.”

Miller has experienced the “linkage between music and identity” both in her personal life and during her semester abroad in Argentina where she witnessed over 50,000 people celebrating the anniversary of a military coup. “Through their marching and the symbolism of song, these Argentine citizens were developing a new identity for their nation, a perception of themselves as people who would never again let fear prevent them from crying out against injustice,” she wrote. She hopes that resources in Peru will offer her “a unique chance to explore the ways that the use of popular musical culture to promote indigenous cultural identity has shaped the relationship between the Peruvian citizen and his state.”

Miller plans to research at the National Institute of Culture, among other government organizations, and hopes to work with Carlos Iván Degregori, the director of the Institute for Peruvian Studies.

A political science major, Miller wrote her senior honors thesis on “Contemporary Indigenous Movements in Ecuador and Peru: The Dynamics of Discrepancy,” and plans to pursue graduate studies in Cultural Policy and Latin American studies upon her return to the U.S. She was active in community service at Amherst, and volunteered as a tutor with the Cambodian Tutoring Program and Student Health Educator, in addition to working as a Peer Career Advisor.

Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, viewed scholarship as an alternative to armed conflict. Today the Fulbright Program, the federal government’s premier scholarship program, funded by an annual congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries, allows Americans to study or conduct research in over 100 nations.

Miller is one of seven Amherst seniors who received Fulbright grants this year.

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