End of Empires – and their Afterlives: The Case of Late Pre-Hispanic and Early Colonial Peru


  • Date: Dec 11, 2017
  • Time: 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Location: Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg v.d.H.
End of Empires – and their Afterlives: The Case of Late Pre-Hispanic and Early Colonial Peru

Often, the end of one empire is the beginning of another empire. The Spanish conquest of the 16th century brought oppression, the destruction of indigenous cultures and the extinction of vast segments of the population. However, the new authority also built on existing structures, used them and changed itself. Old and new authorities, and also sovereigns were not always easily distinguishable from one another. How did the new order behave towards the old order? Did the old empire, in the case of the Inca in the Andean region, survive precisely because of its assimilation by the conquerors? What did this mean for the new order? How were these transformations of the systems handled? These questions, being especially important for the early modern history of Hispano America, not to mention its legal history, are to be dealt with in the context of a discussion with two researchers who have studied the phenomena of assimilation and the continuation of imperial structures by new sovereigns in the Andean region from historical and archeological points of view: Jeremy Mumford, Assistant Professor of History, Department of History, Brown University und Parker VanValkenburgh, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology , Brown University.


Jeremy Ravi Mumford

Incas, Habsburgs, and Close-Kin Marriage, 1558-1570

In 1558, in Spanish Peru, the Inca princess Cusi Huarcay married her brother, Sayri Thupa, with the blessing of the Catholic bishop of Cuzco, carrying the Inca tradition of sibling marriage into the colonial era. In 1570, King Philip V of Castile married his niece Anna of Austria, the daughter of his cousin and his sister. Each marriage reflected a royal practice of close-kin marriage forbidden to ordinary people, in Peru just as in Europe. Anthropologists have traditionally seen royal incest as a strategy by which kings and queens sacralize themselves through breaking the most intimate and dangerous of laws. The Spanish destruction of the Inca state, Tahuantinsuyu, inserted Inca imperial ritual into a Spanish, Catholic framework.


Parker VanValkenburgh

Building Indios: a Genealogy of Landscape and Political Subjectivity in the Zaña Valley, Peru, 12th-18th centuries CE

In this talk, I explore the legacies of the Spanish forced resettlement of indigenous peoples in colonial Peru (reducción) – focusing in particular on communities in the Zaña valley. I begin by examining how indigenous litigants engaged with colonial institutions to contest the terms of their resettlement, and I analyze archaeological data to examine the transformation of indigenous lifeways in the wake of reduccion. I then turn my attention to the long-term consequences of resettlement in the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing in particular on the unanticipated consequences of environmental and social change. Ultimately, I argue that the process through which indigenous peoples contested settlement during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries produced creative "friction" (Tsing 2005) through which Spanish imperial legal institutions gained grip in this frontier region.

Picture: Peru, © Otto Danwerth

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