A haunting account in the Virginia Quarterly Review (via 3QD) of a visit to a very remote and tiny town in Argentina, with around 300 inhabitants, and a very large number of inter-related Albino men, women and children. Money quote:
Aicuña is not an albino town. There is nothing deviant here to satisfy our more prurient desires. The whispers of divine punishment for incest are mere myth. And yet there is something archetypal, even tragic, about Aicuñaan entire lineage imprisoned by their own distrust, preferring estrangement from the world to the prospect of being judged illegitimate and having to surrender their inheritance.
In the meantime, three centuries have passed Aicuña by. Isolated geographically and culturally, the inhabitants are little prepared to cope with the twenty-first century. In the face of outside curiosity, rumor, and intrusion, most have retreated further into reactionary seclusion, turning decisively, and distrustfully, inward. This response to the hurtful whispers of its neighbors about Aicuña’s alleged sin and strangeness and to nosy journalists and vacationers looking for a thrill, can no longer protect Aicuña’s way of life. Trade, communication, globalization, and other facets of the modern world pose frightening hazards to a village that wants only to be left alone. Aicuña, as I have found it, with boys riding donkeys through the dust, with its lone taxi and its communal telephone, will not survive this century unscathed.
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