Deathly Waters and Hungry Mountains: Agrarian Ritual and Class Formation in an Andean Town


325 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7210-0
DDC 305.5'633'0985294





Reviewed by Ronald N. Harpelle

Ronald N. Harpelle is an assistant professor of history at the
University of Manitoba.


Deathly Waters and Hungry Mountains is a valuable contribution to our
understanding of the role of rituals in regulating production and power
in a community. Anthropologist Peter Gose explores the relationship
between the annual cycle of life of Andean peasant producers and their
definition of themselves and events around them. The book begins by
introducing the community and its context; then Gose takes readers
through the rituals of the seasons that make up the cycle of life in the
village. It goes beyond describing the annual cycles as folklore by
extending the discussion to include class formation. The cycle is shown
to involve co-operative production, individual appropriation of the
harvest, and the distribution of political power among the villagers.
The economics and politics of the village in the study are shown to be
compatible with the legal structures of Peru. Although the ritual cycle
is confined to the community, Gose argues that the national political
process tends to reflect the reality of Andean cultural needs and has
adapted to the traditions of peasant society. The book is well written,
and offers good insights into the structure and mechanics of Andean
peasant communities.


Gose, Peter., “Deathly Waters and Hungry Mountains: Agrarian Ritual and Class Formation in an Andean Town,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,