The World Upside Down: Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Peru

The World Upside Down: Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Peru

The World Upside Down: Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Peru

The World Upside Down: Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Peru

Synopsis

Based on many types of early historical accounts, this study of the Spanish conquest and colonisation of Latin America, explains some of the general prinicipals on which the pre-Hispanic Andeans' lives were based.

Excerpt

Some would describe the task of ethnohistorians as writing the history of the people without history. That definition, of course, implies a strict understanding of the word history as a reconstruction of past events based on written records. Many scholars now reject that definition as demeaning, ethnocentric, and not totally accurate. the history of a people can be reconstructed using many sources, including oral traditions and the material record. the absence of writing, in other words, does not necessarily deny a people a functional past.

This study uses oral traditions as written down after the first contact with Europeans, the material record as reported and interpreted by archaeologists, and early testimonies and writings of the native peoples of northern Peru to reconstruct their history. By gleaning colonial records and separating native statements from those of the Spaniards, we can construct a picture of the immediate precontact years. Often, statements cannot be taken literally, because the Andean witnesses and petitioners were using a language that was not their own, often with the help of a scribe or representative. But when such statements are considered with and compared against the behavior and reactions of these same individuals and their peers, the underlying meaning and intent becomes apparent. Statements that were incomprehensible to me at first, due to my Western cultural upbringing and training, inspired me to look deeper--as Robert Darnton did when he encountered the account he made famous in his article on the great cat massacre--to understand another perspective.

This book was a long time coming. It began some twenty years ago with my first encounters with archaeologists in the field. On many . . .

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