Juana Asurdui was a combatant and guerrilla strategist during the Andean wars of independence from Spain (1809-1825). Despite reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel in the rebel army, she was cast aside in her later years and reluctantly remembered by historians in the decades following her death. As a woman from the rural periphery, Asurdui was an unlikely fit for the masculine and nationalist narratives that chronicled the war but the dexterity of her story eventually outgrew the old narratives. For both nations she came to embody struggles associated with the underclass and the experiences of women from almost every background. She served as a broker that helped bridge the gaps—regional, economic, and political spaces—that separated the experience of citizens in both countries. Her historical memory has been the subject of romanticized tropes and regional as well as national myths in both Argentina and Bolivia.
Professor Marion’s research seeks to peel back the historical layers that cover the life and symbolic power of this remarkable woman. It seeks to piece together a plausible narrative of her life by reconstructing the social, environmental, and political frameworks that shaped her experience as a woman, a spouse, a mother, as a member of an agricultural community, a guerrilla combatant, and as a widowed veteran of the war. The evolution of Asurdui’s literary, mythic, and politicized projections provide a unique window for understanding the relationship between formal and popular expressions of nation building and the inclusion of sexual difference into national narratives since the independence era to the present day.
Dr. Marion was previously awarded a Fulbright Full-Grant in 2001 to do archival research in Bolivia and complete his doctoral dissertation at the University of New Mexico. His thesis explored popular and native Andean (indigenous) politics during the independence period. His current research on Juana Asurdui represents an extension of those topics. Professor Marion’s research has also received support from Emmanuel’s Faculty Development Committee in the form of Faculty-Student Research Grants. Emmanuel College alums who assisted with these research projects include: Megan Paszko (2006), Efrain Loza (2011), Devon Wright (2017), Emily Tessier (2019), and Simon Balaguera (2020).
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Marion will not be permitted to travel until April 2022 at the earliest.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. Since its inception in 1946, the program has provided more than 400,000 participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns in more than 160 countries. For more, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright.