This paper reports on a case study of women’s collective action, as a means of exploring the intertwining of gender, ethnicity and poverty in the phenomenon of collective action among marginalised groups. Collective action among indigenous and ‘chola’ women is studied through the phenomenon of the ‘Comedores Populares’, or People’s Kitchens. The study was undertaken as part of a wider project examining the role of collective action – or its absence or weakness – as a possible partial explanation of the persistence of inequality, particularly inequality between groups, or ‘horizontal’ inequalities (HI). Its principal focus was not gender; however, gender is an important dimension of inequality, and comes intertwined with other aspects of inequality, in particular ethnicity and poverty. I first explain a little of the nature of the issue of ethnicity in Peru. I next explain the framework of the collective action studies and the meaning I give to ‘success’ (Section 2). In the third section I present our case study, as an instance of collective action within that framework. The fourth section concludes, suggesting some preliminary ideas on the relevance of multiple exclusions to the persistence of HIs and the rigidities of a hierarchical society, as a stimulus to further research.
CRISE Working Paper No. 67, 20 pp.