Re-presenting La Tapanada Limeña: Uncovering Orientalism in the Gendered, Civic Icon of Fin-de-Siglo Peru
Honorable Mention winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Graduate Research Awards, 2012.
The exoticizing imagery that constructed the civic emblem of “la tapada limeña” reveals the influence of nineteenth-century Orientalism in shaping Peruvian national identity. As European countries re-negotiated their own identities with respect to the colonial binaries they fabricated with the “East,” Orientalist currents crossed the Atlantic to set root within the newly independent nations of Latin America. Yet the dynamics of Orientalism within the Latin American discourse functioned differently than that of Europe. The manner in which the iconography of “la tapada limeña” played upon national, foreign, and colonial links is illustrated in an album housed in Rice University’s Woodson Research Center, entitled “Las Mujeres Españolas, Portugesas y Americanas”. As images of “la tapada limeña” became popular within the larger web of international consumption, itinerant artists and modern reproduction technologies impacted the “shape” of “la tapada”. The transformation of “la tapada” from national icon into decontextualized foreign commodity unveils how Orientalist notions and market forces linked to Europe both created and destabilized the national identities of Latin American nations in the nineteenth century.