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Paradigms of Conquest: History, Historiography, and Politics

  • Steve J. Stern

The Quandary of 1492

The year 1492 evokes a powerful symbolism.1 The symbolism is most charged, of course, among peoples whose historical memory connects them directly to the forces unleashed in 1492. For indigenous Americans, Latin Americans, minorities of Latino or Hispanic descent, and Spaniards and Portuguese, the sense of connection is strong. The year 1492 symbolises a momentous turn in historical destiny: for Amerindians, the ruinous switch from independent to colonised history; for Iberians, the launching of a formative historical chapter of imperial fame and controversy; for Latin Americans and the Latino diaspora, the painful birth of distinctive cultures out of power-laden encounters among Iberian Europeans, indigenous Americans, Africans, and the diverse offspring who both maintained and blurred the main racial categories.

But the symbolism extends beyond the Americas, and beyond the descendants of those most directly affected. The arrival of Columbus in America symbolises a historical reconfiguration of world magnitude. The fusion of native American and European histories into one history marked the beginning of the end of isolated stagings of human drama. Continental and subcontinental parameters of human action and struggle, accomplishment and failure, would expand into a world stage of power and witness. The expansion of scale revolutionised cultural and ecological geography. After 1492, the ethnography of the humanoid other proved an even more central fact of life, and the migrations of microbes, plants and animals, and cultural inventions would transform the history of disease, food consumption, land use, and production techniques.2 In addition, the year 1492 symbolises the beginnings of the unique world ascendance of European civilisation.

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1 This essay constitutes an outspoken reflection on the meaning of conquest in Latin American history and historiography, and is written for an audience familiar with the basic outlines of conquest history. This assumption about audience, and practical constraints of space, mean that my approach to bibliographical citation will be ruthlessly selective. The purpose is to provide example and illustration, and to guide interested readers to works that expand on the bibliographical coverage offered in footnotes to this essay.

2 For a good introduction to biological and ecological themes, see Crosby, Alfred W. Jr, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Ct., 1972); cf. Crosby, , Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900 (New York, 1986). On the ethnography of the other and related intellectual issues, see Pagden, Anthony, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (New York, 1982); Hodgen, Margaret T., Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Philadelphia, 1964); the forthcoming book by Roger Bartra on European images of ‘others’ and ‘savages’ before 1492; and Representations, vol. 33 (Winter, 1991), special issue on ‘The New World’. For a wide-ranging intellectual history that focuses on the eventual emergence and evolution of ‘Creole patriotism’ in Spanish America, and is suggestive of the long-term impact of debates in the sixteenth-century Hispanic world, see Brading, David A., The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492–1867 (New York, 1991).

3 Two clarifications are in order. First, whether one accepts or rejects contemporary scholarly currents that promote a more Africa-centred approach to human civilisation including Western civilisation, is not the main point under discussion here. One may accept or reject, for example, Martin Bernal's challenging and important interpretation of African cultural influence in the ancient Greek world, and the subsequent screening of that influence by European writers. See Bernal, Martin, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilisation (2 vols. to date, New Brunswick, 1987: 1991). But even less controversial accounts offer a vision of pre-1492 European empires and civilisations that acknowledges, at least in part, a context of Old World heterogeneity: crossroads, contact, influence, and contention involving the continents and cultures of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. See, for example, McNeill, William H., A World History (3rd ed., New York, 1979), Part II. McNeill's overall interpretation stresses ‘equilibrium’, autonomy, and the limited (i.e., voluntary and/or superficial) external influences among several centres of Old World civilisation, during the 2,000 years prior to 1500. But the thesis is set within an interpretive context and a narrative that acknowledges substantial cultural contact, contention, and expansionary movements within an Old World arena of plural civilisations and empires. For a brilliant evocation of fifteenth-century Spain as a society whose main drama was not the coming voyage of Columbus, but the wrenching transformation of a culturally and religiously heterogeneous world into a society founded on exclusionary purification by and for the builders of a more powerful state, see Aridjis, Homero, 1492, The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile, Ferber, Betty, trans. (New York, 1991). Second, the long-term movement towards a North Atlantic axis, and towards influence centred in more western and northern parts of Europe, did not wipe out in one sudden moment the pull of the Mediterranean. The initial impact of 1492 was to shift influence west within a Mediterranean milieu, and to set the stage for the eventual rise of Atlantic powers. This is more than evident in Braudel's, Fernand masterpiece, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Reynolds, Sian, trans. (2 vols., New York, 19721973).

4 Even if one sets aside the valid point that from an indigenous American point of view, it is silly and even pernicious to argue that America was ‘discovered’ in 1492, the ‘discovery’ concept turns out to be problematic even in a Europe-centred context. Edmundo O'Gorman long ago argued, within a framework of Europe-centred intellectual history, that America was more an ‘invention’ than a ‘discovery’. See O'gorman, , La idea del descubrimiento de America (Mexico city, 1951); cf. The Invention of America (Bloomington, 1961).

5 A useful, if rather bland, guide to activities connected to the quincentennial is the newsletter published by the Organization of American States: Quinto Centenario del Descubrimiento…Quincentennial of the Discovery (1987-). Its strongest feature is institutional news and commemorations. The quincentennial's magnitude of consequence led the National Council for the Social Studies to issue a carefully crafted statement whose signatories include, among others, the American Anthropological Association and the American Historical Association. See American Historical Association, Perspectives, vol. 29, no. 8 (Nov. 1991), pp. 2021. Anyone who reads US-based ‘popular’ magazines such as Newsweek or ‘high culture’ ones such as New York Review of Books will have noted a quickening of interest and debate, organisation of Native American responses, and an outpouring of books of varied quality. For examples of works and responses by Latin Americans and Native Americans, see Contreras, Jesus (ed.), La cam india, la cruz del 92: Identidad étnica y movimientos indios (Madrid, 1988); Perales, Losu (ed.), 1492–1992, Quinientos anos después AMERICA VIVA (Madrid, 1989); Churchill, Ward, Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonisation of American Indians, Jaimes, M. Annette (ed.), (Monroe, Me., 1992); cf. North American Congress on Latin America, Report, vol. 24, no. 5 (Feb. 1991), thematic issue on ‘Inventing America, 1492–1992’.

6 The most influential writers on comparatively inclusionary and flexible approaches to race in Latin America, especially Brazil, were Freyre, Gilberto, Casa-grande e senzala (4th ed., 2 vols., Rio de Janeiro, 1943), and Tannenbaum, Frank, Slave and Citizen: The Negroin the Americas (New York, 1946). Cf. the contrast of Protestant and Catholic civilisations that emerges in Morse, Richard, ‘The Heritage of Latin America’, in Hartz, Louis et al. , The Founding of New Societies (New York, 1964), pp. 123177. The vision of Iberian approaches to race encouraged by the interpretations of Freyre and Tannenbaum have been subjected to stinging criticism since the 1960s, especially by academics, but they are still important in popular culture. For an illuminating recent discussion of shifts in scholarship and popular culture, for the case of Brazil, see Fontaine, Pierre-Michel (ed.), Race, Class, and Power in Brazil (Los Angeles, 1985); for historical perspective, see the essay by Skidmore in the Fontaine anthology, and Da Costa, Emilia Viotti, The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories (Chicago, 1985), chap. 9. For a brief example of the ways ethnic critique can cut in several directions, and spark a desire to ‘redress the record’, see the New York Times article on revisionary critiques of Columbus, (‘The Invasion of the Nina, The Pinta and the Santa María’, 2 June 1991), and the letter it provoked by De Balmaseda Milam, Teresa, New York Times, 4 July 1991. Balmaseda Milam pointedly noted that even though (because?) she had read Sale's, KirkpatrickThe Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy (New York, 1990), she thought the revisionists had unfairly maligned Spain.

7 The connection to debates over political correctness is quite evident in journalistic treatments of the quincentenary theme. See, for example, the New York Times article cited in note 6 above, and the ‘Columbus Special Issue’ of Newsweek (Fall/Winter, 1991). For a rather sophisticated example of conservative Hispanophilia, laced with a tragic tone suggesting sympathy for Indians who have suffered greatly but whose pre-Hispanic cultures were encumbered by fatal flaws and whose contemporary survival requires that they modernise, see Mario Vargas Llosa, ‘Questions of Conquest: What Columbus wrought, and what he did not’, Harper's Magazine (Dec. 1990), pp. 45–51.

The lament that political correctness and multiculturalism have degraded academic life, and the related discourse that an overpowering intellectual fragmentation has destroyed larger meaning, are in my view profoundly exaggerated and misleading. For an exploration of these questions in the context of the recent history of professional historical knowledge, and the significance of work on Africa and Latin America, see Stern, Steve J., ‘Africa, Latin America, and the Splintering of Historical Knowledge: From Fragmentation to Reverberation’, in Cooper, Frederick et al. , Confronting Historical Paradigms: Peasants, Labor, and the Capitalist World System in Africa and Latin America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, forthcoming).

8 The quotation is from Newsweek, 24 June 1991, p. 55; cf. Ibid., ‘Columbus Special Issue’, p. 13.

9 Del Castillo, Bernal Díaz, Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, Leon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. (2 vols., ‘Crónicas de América’ ed., Madrid, 1984), chap. 87, vol. I, pp. 310311. My translation differs slightly from that available in the 1963 Penguin edition translated by Cohen, J. M. (Díaz, The Conquest of New Spain, p. 214).

10 See Díaz, , Verdadera, Hisloria, passim; León-Portilla, Miguel (ed.), The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston, 1962), pp.; 152; De Ayala, Felipe Guaman Poma, El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno, Mutta, John V. and Adorno, Rolena, eds. (3 vols., Mexico City, 1980), pp. 342343. On the rush to establish profit-making ensembles, the classic early essay is Miranda, Jose, ‘La función económica del encomendero en los orígenes del regimen colonial de Nueva Espana (1525–1531)’, Anales del Institute National de Antropologia t Historia, vol. 2 (1941–6), pp. 421462; cf. Assadourian, Carlos Sempat, El sistema de la economía colonial: mercado interno, regiones yespacio económico (Lima, 1982), esp. pp. 109134; Stern, Steve J., ‘Feudalism, Capitalism, and the World-System in the Perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean’, American Historical Review, vol. 93, no. 4 (Oct. 1988), esp. pp. 833, 839–840.

11 The best introductions to Christian Utopias and dissenters are Hanke, Lewis, The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America (Boston, 1949); Phelan, John Leddy, The Millennial Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World (2nd ed., Berkeley, 1970); Clendinnen, Inga, ‘Disciplining the Indians: Franciscan Ideology and Missionary Violence in Sixteenth-Century Yucatán’, Past and Present, vol. 94 (Feb. 1982), pp. 2748; see also Bataillon, Marcel, Erasme et L'Espagne (Paris, 1937); Clendinnen, , Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517–1570 (New York, 1987); Ricard, Robert, The SpiritualConquest of Mexico, Simpson, Lesley B., trans. (Berkeley, 1966). Our knowledge of these themes will be greatly enriched by the forthcoming dissertation of James Krippner Martínez on early colonial Michoacan, ‘Images of Conquest: Text and Context in Colonial Mexico’ (University of Wisconsin-Madison, forthcoming 1992); for a partial preview, see Krippner-Martínez, , ‘The Politics of Conquest: An Interpretation of the Relación de Michoacán’, The Americas, vol. 47, no. 2 (Oct. 1990).

12 One of the most perceptive discussions of conquest Utopias, and the social precedence aspect in particular, remains that of Wolf, Eric R., Sons of the Shaking Earth (Chicago, 1959), pp. 152175, to whose account I am indebted. (Wolf wrote his interpretation in an era that paid closer attention to interpreters of national culture such as Américo Castro and Eliseo Vivas, and I wish to acknowledge that my phrasing of Spanish demeanour resembles Wolfs quotation of Vivas.) The most original and illuminating recent scholarship on social precedence and colonial Iberian culture explores the theme from the vantage point of gender and honour codes. See especially Martínez-Alier, Verena [now Stolcke], Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Attitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society (Cambridge, 1974); Gutierrez, Ramon A., ‘Honor Ideology, Marriage Negotiation, and Class-Gender Domination in New Mexico, 1690–1846’, Latin American Perspectives, vol. 44 (Winter, 1985), pp. 81104; cf. the more detailed and pluralised cultural analysis in Gutierrez, , When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500–1846 (Stanford, 1991).

13 On hierarchy, seniority, and political restlessness among conquistadors, see Diaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera, passim.; cf. Lockhart, James, The Men of Cajamarca: A Social and Biographical Study of the First Conquerors of Peru (Austin, 1971). On Spanish emigration in less than gloried contexts, see Lockhart, James, Spanish Peru. A Colonial Society, 1532–1560 (Madison, 1968); Altman, Ida, Emigrants and Society: Extremadura and America in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley, 1989).

14 Information on political intrigue and factionalism in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Spanish South America may be gleaned from Sauer, Carl Ortwin, The Early Spanish Main (Berkeley, 1966); Sale, Conquest of Paradise; Martinez, Bernardo Garcia, El Marquesado del Valle: Tres siglos de regimen señorial en Nueva España (Mexico City, 1969); Simpson, Lesley B., The Encomienda of New Spain: The Beginnings of Spanish Mexico (rev. ed., Berkeley, 1950); Díaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera; Hemming, John, The Conquest of the Incas (New York, 1970); Daitsman, Andrew L., ‘The Dynamic of Conquest: Spanish Motivations in the New World’ (M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987).

15 The alignment of Church officials in America with encomendero visions of politics comes through strongly in Simpson, , The Encomienda, esp. pp. 133139, and Hanke, , Spanish Struggle, pp. 18, 43–45, 98. A brilliant depiction of Franciscan Yucatan as an arena of political ambition and egotism is Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests; the theme of missionaries, church officials, and political warfare with high stakes will be further illuminated in Krippner-Martínez, ‘Images of Conquest’.

16 For critiques and role inversions, see esp. Clendinnen, , ‘Disciplining the Indians’; Clendinnen, , Ambivalent Conquests. Cf. Simpson, , The Encomienda, pp. 7577, 237–238; Stern, Steve J., Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison, 1982), pp. 46, 49; and Krippner-Martínez, , ‘Images of Conquest’.

17 See the sources cited in note 14 above; and for visual representations, Lombardi, Cathryn L. et al. , Latin American History: A Teaching Atlas (Madison, 1983), pp. 22, 24, 25 (cf. pp. 26, 28, 29).

18 For the slaving and war zones mentioned, see Padden, Robert C., ‘Cultural Change and Military Resistance in Araucanian Chile, 1550–1730’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, vol. 13 (Spring, 1957), pp. 103121; Powell, Philip Wayne, Soldiers, Indians and Silver (Berkeley, 1952); Macleod, Murdo J., Spanish Central America. A Socioeconomic History, 1520–1720 (Berkeley, 1973); Hemming, John, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians, 1500–1760 (Cambridge, Ma., 1978); cf. Daitsman, , ‘Dynamic of Conquest’; Jara, Alvaro, Guerray sociedad en Chile (Santiago de Chile, 1971); Powell, Philip Wayne, Mexico's Miguel Caldera: The Taming of America's First Frontier (1548–1597) (Tucson, 1977); Morse, Richard (ed.), The Bandeirantes: The Historical Role of the Brazilian Pathfinders (New York, 1965). On Paraguay, the key introduction remains Service, Elman R., Spanish-Guarani Relations in Early Colonial Paraguay (Ann Arbor, 1954); for a more long-term view encompassing a wider geographical area, see Garavaglia, Juan Carlos, Mercado interno y economia colonial (Tres siglos de historia de layerba mate) (Mexico City, 1983); Melía, Bartomeu, ‘Las reducciones jesuíticas del paraguay: un espacio para una Utopia colonial’, Estudios Paraguayos, vol. 6 (1978), pp. 157163. For an introduction to regions where missionary power eclipsed or at least rivalled that of more secular colonising interests, see (aside from the Hemming and Melía works already cited in this note) Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests; Hu-Dehart, Evelyn, Missionaries, Miners and Indians: Spanish Contact with the Yaqui Nation of Northwestern New Spain, 1533–1820 (Tucson, 1981); Krippner-Martínez, ‘Images of Conquest’.

19 For an introduction to debates and early post-conquest intellectual history, see Hanke, , Spanish Struggle; Pagden, , Fall of Natural Man.

20 The quote is from the account given by De Las Casas, Bartolomé, Historia de las Indies (3 vols., Mexico City, 1951), vol. II; pp. 441442, as cited and translated by Keen, Benjamin, ed., Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present (4th ed., Boulder, 1986), p. 63.

21 See Stern, , ‘Feudalism, capitalism, and the World-System’, pp. 848858, for a succinct discussion of Potosf, comparison with other colonial mining centres, and orientation to the vast scholarly bibliography.

22 Examples of Indian competition involving the commodities mentioned in this paragraph may be found in Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 3839; Spalding, Karen, Deindio a campesino: cambios en la estructura social del Peru colonial (Lima, 1974), pp. 3160; Santisteban, Fernando Silva, Los obrajes en el Virreinato del Peru (Lima, 1964); De Los Angeles Romero Frizzi, María, ‘Economía y vida de los españoles en la Mixteca Alta: 1519–1720’ (Ph.D. diss., Universidad Iberoamericana [Mexico], 1985); Borah, Woodrow, Silk Raising in Colonial Mexico (Berkeley, 1943); Simpson, , The Encomienda, pp. 137139. On the ways the early politics of alliance might affect early tribute and labour quotas, see Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 4044. For a long-term view of indigenous participation in markets in the Andes, see Harris, Olivia et al. (eds.), La participation indigena en los mercados surandinos: Estrategias y reproduction social, siglos XVI a XX (La Paz, 1987).

23 See Franklin, Pease G. Y., Del Tawantinsuyu a la historia del Perú (Lima, 1978), pp. 198199 (n. 8); cf. Murra, John V., ‘Aymara lords and their European agents at Potosí’, Nova Americana, vol. I (Torino, 1978), pp. 231233; Harris, et al. , La participation.

24 The policy questions that derived from indigenous competition in commodity markets may be gleaned from the sources cited in notes 21–22; on community cash boxes, see Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 98, 100; Lopez, Vilma Cevallo, ‘La caja de censos de indios y su aporte a la economía colonial, 1565–1615’, Revista del Archive National del Peru, vol. 26, entrega 2 (Lima, 1962), pp. 269352. For a long-term view of the practical mechanisms developed by colonial hacendados to battle smallholder competition, see Larson, Brooke, ‘Rural Rhythms of Class Conflict in Eighteenth-Century Cochabamba’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 60, no. 3 (Aug. 1980), pp. 407430; cf. Larson, , Colonialism and Agrarian Transformation in Bolivia: Cochabamba, 1550–1900 (Princeton, 1988); Florescano, Enrique, Precios del maíz y crisis agricolas en Mexico (1708–1810) (Mexico City, 1969).

25 On the politics of alliance at the imperial level, see Diaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera; Hemming, Conquest of the Incas. For the sub-imperial level, see Stern, Steve J., ‘The Rise and Fall of Indian-White Alliances: A Regional View of “Conquest” History’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 61 (Aug. 1981), pp. 461491; cf. Krippner-Martínez, ‘Politics of Conquest’, and the sources cited in note 26 below.

26 See Gibson, Charles, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (2nd ed., Stanford, 1967); Soriano, Waldemar Espinoza, La destruction del imperio de los incas (Lima, 1975); Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 4849; Hemming, , Conquest of the Incas, pp. 385390.

27 On indigenous receptivity to Christianity within a context of selective incorporation and redeployment, the following works offer illuminating analysis, and further bibliographical orientation: Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests; Maccormack, Sabine, ‘Pachacuti: Miracles, Punishments, and Last Judgment: Visionary Past and Prophetic Future in Early Colonial Peru’, American Historical Review, vol. 93, no. 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 9601006; Burkhart, Louise M., The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (Tucson, 1989). Cf. Ramirez, Susan E. (ed.), Indian—Religious Relations in Colonial Spanish America (Syracuse, 1989); Farriss, Nancy M., Maya Society Under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival (Princeton, 1984); Gruzinski, Serge, La colonisation de l'imaginaire: Societes indigenes et occidentalisation dans le Mexique espagnol, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1988). On indigenous intellectuals, a topic that includes but spills beyond that of Christianity, see Adorno, Rolena, Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru (Austin, 1986); Adorno, (ed.), From Oral to Written Expression: Native Andean Chronicles of the Early Colonial Period (Syracuse, 1982), esp. the essay by Frank Salomon; see also Farriss, Nancy M., ‘Remembering the Future, Anticipating the Past: History, Time, and Cosmology among the Maya of Yucatan’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 29 (1987), pp. 566593; Schroeder, Susan, Chimalpahin and the Kingdoms of Chalco (Tucson, 1991).

28 See Clendinnen, , ‘Disciplining the Indians’; Clendinnen, , Ambivalent Conquests; Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 5170.

29 On disenchantment, and the continuing potential for extirpation of idolatry campaigns, see (aside from the sources cited in note 27) Maccormack, Sabine, ‘“The Heart Has Its Reasons”: Predicaments of Missionary Christianity in Early Colonial Peru’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 67 (1985), pp. 443466; Duviols, Pierre, La lutte contre Us religions autochtones dans le Pérou colonial (L'extirpation de l'idolatrie entre 1532 et 1660) (Lima, 1971). For an important argument that continuing ‘paganisms’ might encourage not only resignation or outrage, but opportunism — a Church careerism founded on ‘discoveries’ of idolatry designed to win reward or to counter charges of abuse - see Acosta, Antonio, ‘Los doctrineros y la extirpacion de la religion indígena en el arzobispado de Lima, 1600–1620’, Jahrbucb für Geschicbte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, vol. 19 (1982), pp. 69109; Acosta, , ‘La extirpacion de las idolatrías en el Peru. Origen y desarrollo de las campanas: a propósito de Cultura Andina y represio'n de Pierre Duviols’, Revista Andina, vol. 5, no. I (July 1987), pp. 171195; Urbano, Henrique, ‘Cristóbal de Molina, el Cusqueño. Negocios eclesiásticos, mesianismo y Taqui Onqoy’, Revista Andina, vol. 8, no. 1 (July 1990), pp. 265283, esp. 268–269.

30 This syndrome helps to explain why early historical work by indigenistas focused on the documentation of open rebellion by Indian heroes and dissidents, including ‘precursors’ of independence. For historiographical orientation, see Stern, Steve J., ‘The Age of Andean Insurrection, 1742–1782: A Reappraisal’, in Stern, (ed.), Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (Madison, 1987), pp. 3638. One intellectual effect of the Black Legend was to restrict the range or variety of Indian responses to the problem of conquest: the ‘pro-Indian’ stance demonstrated the severe brutality of colonial exploitation, and the fact that Indians did not simply accept abuse but sometimes exploded in revolt. For a striking example, see the narrative structure and climactic closing sentence in a fine article by Rowe, John H.: ‘The Incas Under Spanish Colonial Institutions’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 37, no. 2 (May 1957), pp. 155199.

31 The sense of cultural and intellectual struggle comes through quite strongly, on the indigenous side, in Adorno, Guaman Poma, and Frank Salomon, ‘Chronicles of the Impossible: Notes on Three Peruvian Indigenous Historians’, in Adorno, From Oral to Written Expression, pp. 9–39; cf. Burkhart, The Slippery Earth; Farriss, ‘Remembering the Future’. On the Spanish side, see the sources cited in note 19 above, and note the splendid evocation in Aridjis, 1492, of a fifteenth-century Spain that was itself passing through a period of interior fluidity and struggle, a crisis at once political and cultural, as it approached the epic events of 1492.

32 On Africans in America in early colonial contexts that put a premium on cultural fluidity and creativity, see the brilliantly suggestive theoretical essay by Mintz, Sidney W. and Price, Richard, An Anthropological Approach to the Afro-American Past:A Caribbean Perspective (Philadelphia, 1976); cf. the specific incidents recounted in Schwartz, Stuart B., Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Babia, 1550–1835 (New York, 1985), pp. 4849; Bowser, Frederick P., The African Slave inColonial Peru, 1524–1650 (Stanford, 1974), p. 188; and the general vision that emerges in Palmer, Colin, Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570–1650 (Cambridge, Ma., 1976), and the works of Price, Richard, esp. First-Time: The Historical Vision of an Afro-American People (Baltimore, 1983); Alabi's World (Baltimore, 1990). On mestizos and political conspiracy in Peru, see Hemming, , Conquest of the Incas, pp. 342343. Unfortunately for our purposes, Robert Douglas Cope's splendid study of racially mixed plebeians focuses mainly on the mid-colonial period: ‘The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660–1720’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987).

33 Even compelling and sophisticated treatments of conquest and culture contact themes sometimes slide towards a discourse of cultural determinism emphasising fundamental inabilities to comprehend the other, or to respond effectively to fluid developments, or to step outside cultural understandings that are homogeneous to the group rather than elements within a more plural range of possible understandings and responses within the group. See, for example, Todorov, Tzvetan, The Conquest of America (New York, 1984), particularly his depiction of Aztec culture; Sahlins, Marshall, Islands of History (Chicago, 1985); cf. Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests, from whom I have borrowed the house of mirrors metaphor (p. 127); Farriss, ‘Remembering the Future’.

34 For the examples cited, see Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 5170, 46, 98; Stern, ‘Rise and Fall’; Villena, Guillermo Lohmann, ‘La restitution por conquistadores y encomenderos: un aspecto de la incidencia lascasiana en el Perú’, Anuario lie llstudios Americanos, vol. 23 (1966), pp. 2189; De Oviedo Y Valdés, Gonzalo Fernandez, Historia general…, as cited in Keen, (ed.), Latin American Civilization, pp. 6465; Clendinnen, , ‘Disciplining the Indians’; Lockhart, , Spanish Peru, pp. 4960; cf. Acosta, ‘Los doctrineros’; Acosta, ‘La extirpation’; MacCormack, ‘The Heart Has Its Reasons’.

35 For a classic introduction to this theme, see Stanley, J. and Stein, Barbara H., The Colonial Heritage of Latin America (New York, 1970); cf. Donghi, Tulio Halperin, Historia contentpordnea de America Latina (Madrid, 1969); Stern, Steve J., ‘Latin America's Colonial History: Invitation to an Agenda’, Latin American Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 1 (Winter, 1985), pp. 316, esp. 3, 13–14.

36 See Keen's, Benjamin superb ‘Main Currents in United States Writings on Colonial Spanish America, 1884–1984’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 65, no. 4 (Nov. 1985), pp. 657682, which may be supplemented by Taylor, William B., ‘Between Global Process and Local Knowledge: An Inquiry into Early Latin American Social History, 1500–1900’, in Zunz, Olivier (ed.), Reliving the Past: The Worlds of Social History (Chapel Hill, 1985), pp. 115190; Stern, , ‘Feudalism, Capitalism, and the World-System’, esp. pp. 832845.

37 This development is associated especially with writings from the late 1920s through the 1950s, and is ably reviewed and critiqued in Keen, ‘Main Currents’, pp. 664–9. Aside from the works by Hanke, Lanning, Leonard, Simpson, and Tannenbaum discussed (among others) by Keen, one should also note the subtle essays by Morse, Richard: ‘Toward a Theory of Spanish American Government’, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 15, no. 1 (Jan. 1954), pp. 7193; and ‘The Heritage of Latin America’.

38 Sophisticated scrutiny of devastation and burden took off in the 1950s and 1960s, and remained influential writing well into the 1970s and 1980s. For major ‘early’ works on the specific topics mentioned, see esp. Borah, Woodrow and Cook, Sherburne F., The Aboriginal Population of Central Mexico on the Eve of Spanish Conquest (Berkeley, 1963), in many ways the culminating statement of a cycle of ‘Berkeley School’ research that crystallised in the 1950s; Rowe, ‘The Incas'; Miranda, Jose, El tributo indígena en la Nueva España durante el siglo XVI (Mexico City, 1952); Gibson, Charles, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519–1810 (Stanford, 1964); MacLeod, , Spanish Central America; Simpson, Lesley B., Exploitation of Land in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley, 1952); Sauer, , The Early Spanish Main; Wachtel, Nathan, The Vision of the Vanquished: The Spanish Conquest of Peru through Indian Eyes, 1530–1570 (orig. 1971; New York, 1977). Cf. the discussion in Keen, ‘Main Currents’, pp. 669–72. The arrival of the quincentennial has given a new lease of life to this perspective. See, e.g., Sale, Conquest of Paradise.

39 This is in part, of course, an autobiographical statement about the origins of the questions that inspired my own research for Peru's Indian Peoples. But my own path to a history that explored agency was part of a larger trend in historiography on Latin America and other world areas. Pioneering early work in this direction, for the topic of indigenous peoples and conquest, was contributed by Spalding, Karen in three important articles: ‘Social Climbers: Changing Patterns of Mobility among the Indians of Colonial Peru’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 50, no. 4 (Nov. 1970), pp. 645664; Spalding, KarenKurakas and Commerce: A Chapter in the Evolution of Andean Society’, ibid., vol. 53, no. 4 (Nov. 1973), pp. 581–599; Spalding, KarenThe Colonial Indian: Past and Future Research Perspectives’, Latin American Research Review, vol. 7, no. 1 (Spring, 1972), pp. 4776. Cf. Schwartz, Stuart B., ‘Indian Labor and New World Plantations: European Demands and Indian Responses in Northeastern Brazil’, American Historical Review, vol. 83, no. 1 (Feb. 1978), pp. 4379.

40 Obviously, the quotes are invented patodies that attempt to capture the flavour of crude versions of one or another paradigm. The discourse of ‘cultural exchange’ reaches as far back as the sixteenth century (see the discussion of de Matienzo, Juan in Stern, , Peru's Indian Peoples, pp. 7273). The romanticised vision of the stooped Indian/peasant who had suffered a great Fall not only has a long history, it also became an important element in the construction of ‘national culture’ in twentieth-century societies such as Mexico and Peru. See, e.g., Bartra, Roger, La jaula de la melancolía: Identidad y metamorfosis del mexicano (Mexico City, 1987); Portocarrero, Gonzalo and Oliart, Patricia, El Peru desde la escuela (Lima, 1989). On the celebration of failed rebellions, see note 30 above. For perceptive works sufficiently inclusive or eclectic to emphasise one or another paradigm while drawing selectively on the insights of others, see the following examples: Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests, for an overarching framework of cultural encounter between strangers that incorporates a sense of power politics and indigenous response to power; Gibson, Aztecs, for a formal framework that emphasises exploitation and destructive pressure, yet is tempered by a sense of Indian endurance, response, and survival; Spalding, Karen, Huarochiri: An Andean Society under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford, 1984), for a framework that emphasises a long-term view of indigenous agency and responses to power, yet interprets the early post-conquest period as one of extreme plunder and exploitation leading to collapse.

41 The continuing strength of the cultural encounter and conquest trauma frameworks for interpretation of the early colonial period is evident in at least three ways in works of quality and sophistication. First, pioneering works that offer us a vision of Indian agency, response, and survival in the long run may nonetheless depict the early colonial period as one of traumatic plunder and devastation. See, for example, Spalding, Huarochiri; Taylor, William B., Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford, 1979). Second, the turn towards a renewed emphasis on culture and language in social history has reinvigorated study of conquest and its early aftermath within a context of cultural encounter, misunderstanding, and ‘dialogical frontiers’. See, for several among many potential examples, Burkhart, The Slippery Earth (who invokes the ‘dialogical frontier’ as a key concept); Gruzinski, La colonisation; Seminario de Historia de las Mentalidades, Institute Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico), El placer de pecary el afánde normar (Mexico City, 1987). On new approaches to culture in historical analysis, a useful introduction is Hunt, Lynn (ed.), The New Cultural History (Berkeley, 1989). Third, works that observe effective Indian survival and response in the early colonial period sometimes emphasise regional peculiarity. That is, lesser pressure by colonisers in backwater regions, where conquest pressures did not reach the intensity associated with more mainstream regions of colonisation, help explain less than traumatic outcomes in the early colonial period, and set the stage for more intense ‘second conquests’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. See, e.g., Farriss, Maya Society.

42 A particularly noteworthy interpretation whose endogenous thrust reminds us not to reduce the totality of Indian aspiration to direct responses to colonial power is Carmagnani, Marcello, El regreso de los dioses. El proceso de nconstitución de la identidad étnica en Oaxaca: Siglos xvii y xviii (Mexico City, 1988); cf. the discussion of community bonding in Farriss, Maya Society.

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Journal of Latin American Studies
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  • EISSN: 1469-767X
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