Modern Identity

Issues of representation echo the struggle of constructing a national identity amid modernization. With an economy increasingly dependent on foreign demand, there came a stronger presence of Western influence in centers of business activity, new and old. Large-scale industrial enterprises appeared in urban and remote places such as Lima and Casapalca. The postcards give evidence of the scale and the bustling industrial activity in several images of copper smelting and exporting, as well as a few in wool spinning and rubber (extraction from trees). However, signs of the strenuous labor conditions and pressures on local workers are hidden from view.

Urbanization coincided with industrialization and modernization. Lima emerges as the modern capital, necessitating peasants to migrate from the countryside for economic opportunity. The postcards showcase the city streets, plazas, and buildings that bear marks of colonial, religious, and political legacies in a modern setting. Designations of “poorer” or “higher” classes in descriptions signal the importance of economic status for citizens in the city, versus their indigenous identity or where they came from. The convergence of influences, new and old, and the bringing together of a national workforce for industry and urban business thus reveal Peru adjusting to its modern, economic identity.