Transforming the Andes

By Urton, Gary | ReVista (Cambridge), Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Transforming the Andes


Urton, Gary, ReVista (Cambridge)


Transforming the Andes

Beyond the lettered city: indigenous literacies in the andes by Joanne Rappaport and Tom Cummins (Duke Uni- versity Press, 2012)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I begin by stating that the co-authors of this award- winning book* are both close, long-time friends of the author of this review. I attended graduate school in anthropology at the Univer- sity of Illinois, Champaign- Urbana, with Joanne Rappa- port in the 1970s, and I have been in close contact with Tom Cummins ever since we coincided on some of our ear- liest respective field research in Cusco, Peru, in 1981. Cummins and I currently co-teach a General Education course at Harvard, "Pathways Through the Andes." While I will grouse about one aspect or another of this book-as is perhaps inevitable, when evaluating the work of one's almost-siblings-I first has- ten to state that Beyond the Lettered City is an exception- ally important, path-breaking contribution to the study of the transformations of society and culture in the northern and central Andes from the time of the Iberian invasion until the early 18th century.

The regional setting sets this work apart from the vast majority of works centering on Andean subject matter. The majority of studies of colonial Andean societies focus on the central Andes, with particular emphasis on Peru and (to a lesser extent) Bolivia. The territory of the latter two nation-states- in the colonial era called, respectively, Lower and Upper Peru-lay at the heart of Tawantinsuyu: the Inka Empire. The northern Andes, the region from Colombia down through Ecuador, received less attention from colonial historians. Rarer still are works that meaningfully draw together the peoples, cultures, histories and environments of the north- ern and central Andes into a single work of deep histori- cal analysis; this is precisely what this extraordinary work accomplishes.

The central significance and major contributions of this work are, first, that it provides a guidepost for Andeanists to develop a more expansive, integrated perspective on the proper account of colonial history in the region. Unlike other works, the book does not solely concern the central Andes, much less separate accountings of the central and the northern Andes. Second, it builds this new, integrated narrative through a deeply anthropologi- cally informed mode of the construction of history and, simultaneously, a recognition of the centrality of writing and literacy in the histories of the (largely) non-literate populations of the Andes in the colonial era. The great insight of Rappaport and Cummins is that there is no contradiction in this last statement ("the importance of literacy for the illiterate").

The key to Rappaport and Cummins's approach to the topic not just of literacy but of what they term "indigenous literacies" is the centrality of writing in the formation of settled, urban spaces in early colonial Latin America. The central theorist of this perception was the great Uru- guayan writer, academic and literary critic, Ángel Rama (1926-1983). In his book, The Lettered City, Rama had laid out the principal tenets of both modernism and trans- culturation in relation to the Latin American experience of conquest and then the long era of colonialism, terminat- ing (but only formally) in the continental movements leading to independence from the European overlords (Spain and Portugal) in the 19th century. Rama's book has had a profound impact on students of Andean literacies, partially inspiring the present work, as well as another book published by Duke University Press, Salomon and Niõ-Mur- cia's, The Lettered Mountain (2011). As taken up by Rap- paport and Cummins, Rama's work opened scholars' eyes to the fact that the Spanish American world was "...a 'let- tered city,' a social constella- tion built on an ideology of the primacy of the written word; within this system, the urban landscape was consti- tuted as a literate scenario for indigenous conversion and domination, structuring the exercise of power by native actors and Spaniards alike. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Transforming the Andes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.