Cities of Rivers, Mountains, and Serpents: Non-Human Territorialities in Jaime Saenz and José María Arguedas


  • Christian Elguera St. Mary's University



Andes, indigenous ontologies, Jaime Saenz, José María Arguedas, non-humans, territoriality


In this article, I draw on Tupac Amaru Kamaq Taytanchisman (1962) by José María Arguedas and Imágenes paceñas (1979) by Jaime Saenz to illuminate the ways that serpents, rivers, and mountains bear upon the spatial organization of Lima and La Paz. I contend that for Saenz and Arguedas, entities such as the Amaru or the Illimani influence the production of non-human territorialities, reorganizing the structures of urban spaces and the lives of the citizens within them. Both texts make visible non-human territorialities through a process I call “territorial writing.” This kind of writing employs a variety of literary strategies (narrative time, characters, and figures) to visualize human and other-than-human vinculums as part of Andean cities. From this vantage point, “territorial writers” perceive urban geographies as territories in which different ethnic groups interact with powerful non-human entities or deities.