ISA Faculty, Dr. Miguel La Serna

Historian Dr. Miguel La Serna knows about the importance of numerous voices to tell a story. That’s why he and Duke University anthropologist Dr. Orin Starn sought an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) grant to write a complete history of Peru’s Shining Path insurgency.

“The story is not as well-known, and we saw a need for a narrative history of the war,” said La Serna.

La Serna and Starn’s book, The Last Revolution: Shining Path and the War of the End of the World, will document the rise and fall of the Peru Shining Path Maoist guerilla group in the final decades of the twentieth century. The book is under contract with W.W. Norton & Company. La Serna and Starn’s access to voices not yet fully explored in academia will provide insights and understandings into the Shining Path group’s actions, as well as adding to the understanding of the logic of collective violence.

“We now have access to inside sources that weren’t even able 10 years ago,” said La Serna. “We have so many diverse perspectives…we even interviewed imprisoned Shining Path leaders.”

Although La Serna has already established himself as a historian with previous publications such as The Corner of the Living: Ayacucho on the Eve of the Shining Path Insurgency (UNC Press, 2012), the opportunity to continue the Shining Path narrative was one he would not miss. By winning the prestigious ACLS grant, La Serna is able to continue his research.

“It was a surprise and honor for me [to win the award],” said La Serna. “It empowers us to do this story the right way, to complete research, and to not only write it, but write it well.”

La Serna’s clear passion for history has guided his career and he said the grant will help write a narrative that is accessible to all people, even those who did not previously know about Peru’s Shining Path or even Peruvian history.

“We want to make history accessible to a broad audience,” said La Serna. “We want all people to understand the story.”

About the ACLS Collaborative Research Grant Award

ACLS invites applications for the eighth annual competition for the ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships for collaborative research in the humanities and related social sciences. The program is funded by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The aim of this fellowship program is to offer small teams of two or more scholars the opportunity to collaborate intensively on a single, substantive project. The fellowship supports projects that produce a tangible research product (such as joint print or web publications) for which two or more collaborators will take credit.

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