General Anthropology Division
Group Flash Presentation Session
Working in Cusco city’s illegal street vending industry, Quechua women and their llama, alpaca, and lamb companions and kin walk the streets of Cusco and offer photograph opportunities to tourists. Although all street vending is illegal in Cusco, police officers target and work to make invisible Quechua women and animals more frequently than other vendors, in part because of the presence of animals. In a tourism industry that profits off of Quechua cultural practices while violently excluding Quechua peoples, Quechua women fight to make themselves both physically and visibly present in Cusco city. A large part of making themselves visible through photography tourism is making the reciprocal care between themselves and their animals visible. By flipping the script on a long history of photographing the “Other,” Quechua women further fight to make themselves and their animals seen in photography tourism on their own terms.
Using the same method of photography that Quechua women use to make themselves visible, I look for the complex practices of care between Quechua women and animals that permeate their labor in photography tourism and their lives more generally. Women care for their animal labor companions by raising them as their own children: women bottle feed their animal kin, bathe and groom them, and refer to them as their children. Animals reciprocate this care by laboring alongside women and thus providing money explicitly so that their families can eat, and eventually, through their own flesh as sustenance.