Chicha: From Indigenous Quechua Beer to Popular Music Genre

In Margaret Bullen’s “Chicha in the Shanty Towns of Arequipa, Peru” she does research on the culture of Quechuan decedents and their music. The Quechua are one of the indigenous cultures of Peru. They made a mass-urban migration from the Andean mounties to the cities such as Lima. The Quechuan people settled in shantytowns outside these cities. During their settlement they brought the tradition of their indigenous beer, Chicha, to the shantytowns. After two generations of living in these neighborhoods the Quechuan decedents acculturated this indigenous beer into a new music genre. It blended the music forms “of Columbian cumbia, Andean wayno, and rock” (229).

Shantytown outside Lima, Peru.

Shantytown outside Lima, Peru.

Chicha came to stand for more than just a musical genre. Chicha gave the youth of the Quechuan decedents an outlet to express their dissatisfaction with living in the shantytowns. These youth struggled with their identity. They had no way to relate to their immediate ancestors culture. They had grown up in the city, but never visited their parents hometown. They did not even know the native vernacular of the Quechua. These children were also met with discrimination from the middle-class Arequipans in the cities they surrounded. This made the children pay little attention to the cultures of their specific neighborhoods and instead support and inclusive culture and identity between all the ancestors of the migrant Andean workers. Chicha was an avenue in which these children could express this inclusive identity and acculturate their Quechuan culture with the culture of the urban areas.

Bullen, Margaret. “Chicha in the Shanty Towns of Arequipa, Peru.” Popular Music 12 : 3 229-244.