Quechuan Voices: The Art of Storytelling through Song

  • Sarah Anderson California State University, Chico
Keywords: Claudia Llosa, The Milk of Sorrow, La teta asustada, song, storytelling, Quechua, Quechuan women's rights, Peru, healing processes, liberation, trauma, rape, race, class, gender, Civil War, knowledge, traditional medicinal practices, traditional food sour


Sarah Anderson examines Claudia Llosa's 2009 film, The Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada) for its use of song as a storytelling medium for expressing Quechuan women's rights in Peru. The author argues that Llosa's film represents Quechuan women's healing processes and their desire for liberation from the trauma of rape and the specters of race, class, and gender oppressions experienced during Peru's 1980-2000 Civil War. Anderson explicates the main character Fausta's song for three major symbols of Quechuan knowledge: healing the disease contracted by "the milk of sorrow," with traditional medicinal practices; Quechuan links to traditional food sources and land rights through a potato hidden in Fausta's vagina; and the potato's manifestation into a growing plant as a symbol of hope for indigenous Quechuan assertion of culture, land, and identity rights, especially for women.


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Peer Reviewed