Zoila S. Mendoza

Zoila S. Mendoza

Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Music Research - Ethnomusicology

Competition: Latin America & Caribbean

University of California, Davis

Zoila Mendoza was born and raised in Peru where she obtained her B.A. and Licenciatura degrees in Anthropology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She then received her Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Anthropology Department and is currently a Professor of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Mendoza’s work has focused on the study of festivals, music, and dance in the Peruvian highlands and among Andean migrants in the nation’s capital. A daughter of Andean migrants herself, she has dedicated her career to scrutinizing the complexities and relevance of such practices, crucial for understanding Andean society and Peru at large. Her work lies at the crossroads of anthropology, history, ethnomusicology, dance, performance, and Native American studies. Her current research concentrates on revealing core Andean forms of knowledge and memory through close analysis of the sensory experience of performers and festival participants. This analysis is intertwined with the study of Quechua language that she teaches at Davis.

Dr. Mendoza has published widely in English and Spanish. She is the author of Shaping Society Through Dance, Mestizo Ritual Performance in the Peruvian Andes (University of Chicago Press, 2000) and Creating Our Own, Folklore, Performance and Identity in Peru (Duke UP, 2008). Both books have been published in Spanish by the Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica in 2002 and 2006, respectively. In addition to the many journal articles she has contributed to several volumes. Among the most recent are Music and the Racial Imagination (2000), Identidades Representadas: Performance, Experiencia y Memoria en los Andes (2001), Intelectuales y Poder: Ensayos en Torno a la Repúbica de las Letras en el Perú I Hispanoamérica (ss. XVI-XX) (2008), Cultural Tourism in Latin America, The Politics of Space and Imagery (2009). Among her awards are a Jacob Javits National Graduate Fellowship, Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education Doctoral Dissertation Abroad Fellowship, Wenner-Gren Foundation Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, University of California President’s Research Fellowship, and grants from the American Philosophical Society and the Mellon Foundation. Besides giving many talks throughout Latin America and the U.S. she has also been invited to present her work at many European forums including in England (Cambridge and Sussex), Spain (Madrid and Seville), and The Netherlands (Amsterdam).

In Peru she has worked closely throughout her professional life with Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas in Cuzco, and with the Instituto de Etnomusicología Andina of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima. The latter holds copies of the large audiovisual collection that Zoila Mendoza has gathered since the late 1980s as her research has always been accompanied by ample video, audio, and photographic material. As a Guggenheim Fellow Dr. Mendoza will conduct final research in Cuzco, draft a book, and begin the editing of a documentary on the Lord of Qoyllorit’i pilgrimage that she has been studying since 2006. Her focus within this pilgrimage, the highest of the world (16,000 feet) and the largest of the Andean region (with about 50,000 pilgrims), is on the walk that Quechua-speaking pilgrims do for three days and two nights to the sanctuary. Pilgrims go as musicians and dancers accompanied to the incessant music of flutes and drums and Mendoza’s analysis concentrates on the sensorial experience of the pilgrims during this walk.


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