Indigenous Intellectuals: Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes

Abisai Pérez Zamarripa
University of Texas at Austin

Cross-posted from Not Even Past

This collective book is about the role of Indian thinkers as actors who preserved pre-Columbian knowledge within the new social order and recreated it to enforce or contest Spanish imperial rule. The book editors integrated several essays of top historians that explain how indigenous intellectuals in the colonial Andes and Mexico were important for the success of both the Spanish authorities and Indian elites in reaching political power and legitimacy.

Together, the book’s articles offers a comparative perspective of colonial Mexico and Peru focusing on the indigenous scholars’ lives, productions, and epistemological networks. This comparative analysis shows that knowledge production was more culturally and linguistically diverse in Mexico than in the Andes. On the one hand, Spanish prevailed on the Quechua as the principal written medium. This meant the indigenous people of the Andes had to learn a new foreign language to achieve social mobility and the Spanish government could centralize more rapidly its political power in the Andean region. On the other hand, in colonial Peru, Spanish rule gradually marginalized the Inca quipu system –records expressed with numerical terms while in colonial Mexico the Mesoamerican pictographic writing tradition –codex with images and words that recorded all kind of information– rapidly adapted the Castilian alphabet scripture. This exemplifies how the Spaniards were reluctant to utilize the numerical system of the Inca people while they accepted the continuity of the Mesoamerican tradition of communicating whole ideas by combining images and words. In her contribution, Gabriela Ramos suggests that the former centralized power of the Inca empire limited knowledge to very few hands, while in Mexico the fragmented structure of the Aztec empire allowed a linguistic diversity that survived Spanish colonization. Ramos explains how the indigenous language, Quechua, became the lingua franca in colonial Cusco and Lima. The standardization of one language allowed the Spaniards to exert control more effectively, but also allowed natives to use the legal culture to their own benefit. Continue reading “Indigenous Intellectuals: Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes”

Dr Olivette Otele to Give @ExeterCIGH Annual Lecture – Afro-European Experiences: From the Third Century to the Third Millennium

Olivette-OteleThe Centre for Imperial & Global History is delighted to announce that Dr Olivette Otele (Reader in History, Bath Spa University) will deliver the 2018 CIGH Annual Lecture on Friday, May 4. She will be speaking on

Afro-European Experiences: From the Third Century to the Third Millennium

This public lecture will look into Afro-European identities by studying their histories, from Saint Maurice, an Egyptian who became the leader of a legendary Roman legion in the 3rd century, to 21st century migrants. Its aim is to understand how the notion of ‘exceptionalism’ has contributed to remembering and then forgetting the long history of African/European human encounters. Mainly used in the fields of cultural studies, sociology and arts, the term ‘African diaspora’ has more recently been replaced by ‘Afro-European’ or ‘Afropean’. African or Afro-descent destinies and creativity have led to newly-coined terms such as ‘Afrocentrism’, ‘Afropessimism’ and ‘Afrophobia’, to name but a few. These are laudable attempts to grasp intricate notions in a small number of words. However, as they refer to contemporary post-war encounters between people of African and European descents, they play into the notion of newly born identities. As this lecture will show, there is a much longer history of Afro-European experiences which are both fascinating in their own right and can contribute to present-day understanding.

The lecture is free and will be followed by a drinks reception.

Click here to register.

Further Particulars:

Fri 4 May 2018
17:00 – 19:00 BST
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Bateman Lecture Theatre, Building One
21 St German’s Rd
University of Exeter
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