Preserving Autonomous Cultures – The Storyteller

Recently, globalization has been playing a major role within countries and their economy. Globalization has many definitions, but usually when someone is referring to globalization, they are usually talking about politics and the economy. Globalization not only affects a country’s economy, but it also affects the citizens and the indigenous cultures that still exist. Relationships between indigenous cultures and globalization have not always been friendly. In most cases, when the two clash, the two express a bitter, hateful attitude toward one another.

At times, imperialistic cultures impose their values upon indigenous cultures. If the indigenous culture chooses to adopt the new values, then consequently, their culture, values, and traditional practices will become extinct. In his novel, The Storyteller, Mario Vargas Llosa dedicates a majority of the story to globalization and its affect on indigenous cultures. As the world becomes more globalized, cultural identities are disappearing at a faster rate, and the Machiguenga, one of the few remaining autonomous cultures in Peru, is on the brink of losing its cultural identity.

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Vargas Llosa ultimately concludes that indigenous peoples and their culture need to be protected from globalization in order to retain their identity. In order to attain that goal, globalization cannot come in contact with their culture. The Peruvian culture and its (other) inhabitants are being attacked by the “tentacle of American imperialism” (71). Essentially, according to the enemies of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, the Americans are trying to penetrate the indigenous cultures of Peru, “perverting, and attempting to westernize them and draw them into a mercantile economy. (71). The linguists are intrusive and trying to impose their culture upon the citizens of Peru. However, it is not just the linguists who try to Westernize Peruvian cultures, but there are missionaries, protestant evangelists, and educators. These people will do anything to Westernize the indigenous cultures, they force themselves in to the jungle, establish an “institute” attempt to trade or befriend some cultures… The Peruvians’ culture and aboriginal cultures’, or what remains of it, way of life is at risk within the country.

Day by day, more tribes are being contaminated by Western and Mestizo influences, and the Machiguenga is one of the remaining tribes (if not the only tribe) that remains untouched by Western culture. The “coexistence (between Viracochas and indigenous cultures) was impossible, that it led inevitably to the Viracochas’ domination of the Indians, to the gradual and systematic destruction of the weaker culture. ” (77). Quite simply, the linguists will eventually destroy a unique way of life.

The Institute and their linguists are there to “wipe their culture, their gods, their institutions off the map” (97). Saul Zuratas, an anthropology student who becomes so absorbed in the study of Amazon tribes that he abandons his scientific stance and enters as a native into the culture of the Machiguengas (later to become the Hablador), would argue that other tribes, such as the Inca or the Tahuantinsuyo, had a chance to retain their identity. The downside is, Globalization is everywhere.

Some tribes would continue running away from globalization, retreating deeper in to the jungle. Unfortunately, one would eventually run out of “jungle” to hide in, therefore remain and resist was next plan on the agenda. However, westernization has already influenced the Incas’ and Tahuantinsuyos’ culture so they might as well conform to westernization, there’s no turning back. They have already lost their way of life, their cultural/individual identity, so they might as well accept westernization and assimilate with the modern world.

Had the other two cultures not been touched by globalization, their civilization would have a chance of surviving. The thing that differentiates civilization are by their history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views between God and man, man and nature, the individual and the group, parents and children, husband and wife. What separates the Machiguenga from other culture is that they “represent something that we’ve (the modern world) forgotten. ” (100). – their religion.

Our culture has lost that sacred connection with nature, something the Machiguenga retain knowledge of. Their relationship with man and Nature, Man and God, gives them the life power and allows them to survive in a region that has yet to be touched by westernization. And because the developed world has lost that connection, “We don’t even know what the harmony that exists between man and those things can be, since we’ve shattered it forever. ” (100). Thus, we must preserve that knowledge, or what’s left of it, with the Machiguenga and their storyteller.

If westernization touches that culture, and erases their way of life, then all hope is lost, and no Man will be able to know or experience that sacred connection with nature. Saul Zuratas commented on imperialism and the importance of these indigenous cultures, “‘That these cultures must be respected,’ he said softly, as though finally beginning to calm down. ‘And the only way to respect them is not to go near them. Not touch them. Our culture is too strong, too aggressive. It devours everything it touches. They must be left alone.

Haven’t they amply demonstrated that they have the right to go being what they are? ‘” (99). Vargas Llosa dedicates massive amounts of detail to describe the Peruvian cultures and what is at risk. Even Vargas Llosa’s character in the story, the narrating “I”, expresses his view on globalization. When Saul describes his experiences with the Machiguenga culture and explains his reasoning why they should be protected, Vargas Llosa identifies with the Machiguenga culture and touches upon the struggles the Machiguengas must face in light of the westerners.

Essentially, the Machiguenga culture is under threat… if they are “touched” by globalization we (humanity) might lose the “relationship between man and Nature,” (100). “Man and the trees, the birds, the rivers, the earth, the sky. Man and God, as well. We don’t even know what the harmony that exists between man and those things can be, since we’ve shattered it forever. ” (100). this is all hypothetical of course, unless globalization extends its reach over the Machiguenga culture and they conform to it. Globalization has had a major impact on indigenous cultures around the world.

Most indigenous cultures are being threatened by westernization and face the risk of extinction. In Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel, The Storyteller, he dedicates a significant portion of the book to the Machiguengas, an indigenous culture in Peru, who are confronted with the risk of being westernized. Indigenous peoples are important to the world, whether or not the play a significant role in the global economy. They represent things that we (as a global community) fail to acknowledge (e. g. connection with nature and man).

Indigenous peoples diversify our world, which explains why Saul wanted to become the Machiguenga Hablador. He abandoned the modern world and joined with a culture that was trying to avoid being assimilated into the world of zombies where everyone is the same. Saul wanted to be unique, not just another person roaming aimlessly in the streets doing regular work. To the Machiguenga’s, he was someone, not just another person, who contributed greatly to the Machiguenga lifestyle and people. We were made to be different, that is what makes people unique, and don’t let anyone take that away.