This work in progress is part of a larger collaborative project to compare the cycle of civil wars and revolutions in several Spanish American nations during the century after independence. The goal is to understand the commonalities and differences in the causes, processes and outcomes of civil wars and revolutions in the emerging Spanish American national political cultures. I argue that modes of mobilization and logistics, types and levels of violence, ideologies and forms of post-revolutionary settlement offer an intense diagnostic test for the peculiar political cultures of the emerging nation-states between the 1820s and 1910, and how those national political cultures evolved over the cycle of civil wars and/or revolutions. Among central criteria for our comparison will be the connection of civil wars to electoral processes, the role of religion, political parties, regionalism, and ethnic and class structures, as well as the forms of mobilization and procurement of armament and finances.
The ten civil wars and revolutions with national repercussions shaking Peru between independence and the beginning of the “Aristocratic Republic” combined mobilization through horizontal and vertical networks with grass roots mobilization of social and ethnic collectivities. In contrast to some other Spanish American republics, the contending forces cohered little on the basis of religion and political parties. What mattered more in Peru were regional conflicts, overlaid by client networks and locally expressed ethnic and social conflicts. Semi-autonomous indigenous fighting forces played a considerable role in the revolutions or civil wars of the early post-independence decades, but by the time of the revolution of 1894-95 indigenous struggles were viewed as largely separate from issues of national politics. At that time, Indians entered the civil war primarily as conscripts on both sides. I will show that by the 1890s the republican notion of “citizens in arms” had begun to give way to a notion of a social conflict in the grassroots mobilization of the revolutionaries fighting the Cáceres government.