The Leverhulme Trust project

New Muralism and the Politics of Erasure: A Study of Public Culture in Peru

Chandra Morrison, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

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In March 2015, over 45 murals adorning the historic centre of Lima were removed at the order of the city’s new mayor, erasing the visual imprint of the Latido Americano urban art festival endorsed by the previous administration. Lima’s new look generated instant and intense public debate in mainstream and social media, advocating both for and against the murals. Yet this clash over the urban image represents much more than a spat between political rivals; its ramifications reach to the core of public life in Peru.

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Taking the 2015 mural erasure in Lima as its focal point, this project investigates what the rise and removal of new muralism signals about the state of public culture in contemporary Peru. It employs ethnographic, visual, and digital methods and critical discourse analysis to examine how disparate framings of urban murals in the public sphere are used to reinforce or challenge cultural hierarchies and social inequalities in Peruvian society, contextualised in the ascent of democracy, neoliberalism, and the creative city.

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This three-year project is led by Dr Chandra Morrison (LACC), with funding by the Leverhulme Trust.

Follow Chandra on Instagram (@chan_mor) for more photos of her research.