Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Latin American Studies Program


Ben Fallaw

Second Advisor

Winifred Tate


During the internal armed conflict between the Shining Path and the Peruvian state, women participated in important ways that are under-recognized in the scholarly literature. In this thesis, I examine the lives, deaths, and hero cults surrounding Edith Lagos and María Elena Moyano, two of the best-known women from this period. Edith Lagos, a young, white militant recruited by Sendero, was killed by the Peruvian police in 1982, while Moyano, an Afro-Peruvian activist from a low-income district of Lima, was assassinated by the Shining Path in 1992. I argue that the shifting narratives surrounding Lagos’s and Moyano’s lives and deaths reflected changes in public opinion towards Sendero and the armed conflict. Sendero and the state, as well as other actors, attempted to use collective memories of both Lagos and Moyano to their own purposes, Sendero seeking to foster support for its war and legitimize its violent tactics and the state to justify its authoritarian character and the violence of its counterinsurgency. I also argue that Catholic ideas of female virtue and martyrdom shaped the hero cults and social memory positioning of both Lagos and Moyano; in Moyano’s case, the elision of Afro-Peruvian identity was central as well.


Peru, Shining Path, Gender, Violence, Social Memory, Hero Cult