Professor Alcira Dueñas: Illuminating the Andes: Indigenous and Mestizo Intellectuals in Colonial Peru

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-12-03 23:59Z by Steven

Professor Alcira Dueñas: Illuminating the Andes: Indigenous and Mestizo Intellectuals in Colonial Peru

¿Qué Pasa, OSU?
Ohio State University
Autumn 2009

Michael J. Alarid

A citizen of Colombia, Professor Alcira Dueñas is a historian who conducts research on the cultural and intellectual history of Amerindians and other subordinated groups of the Peruvian Andes during the colonial era. Professor Dueñas earned her Bachelor of Arts from Universidad de Bogotá, Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Economics, and her Master of Art and Doctorate in History from The Ohio State University, where she focused on the history of Latin America. For more than twenty years, professor Dueñas has taught courses on Colonial and Modern Latin America, Women’s history of Latin America, and modern World History. Professor Dueñas has had a distinguished career: she is a Fulbright scholar, recipient of the OSU Graduate School Alumni Research Award, and, along with a group of faculty of color from the History Department, she has recently been honored with the Distinguished University Diversity Enhancement Award from the University Senate, as well as with an equivalent distinction from the College of Humanities. …

…Professor Dueñas continues to feel indebted to OSU for her intellectual flowering, and through her OSU education she has infused an interdisciplinary approach into her historical methodology as well. Her first book, which hits shelves in the spring of 2010, utilizes tools of literary criticism and ethnohistory to highlight the presence and practices of indigenous and mestizo intellectuals in colonial Peru. She develops a textual analysis of Andean manifestos, memoriales (petitions), reports, and letters to identify the rhetorical strategies these intellectuals utilized to reach out to the royal powers. Dueñas explains, “I place such analysis in the historical context of the major critical conjunctures of Spanish colonialism in the Andes, particularly the insurrections that intersected with some of the writings under study. I apply anthropological methods, as I examine issues of identity, religion, and Andean political culture.”

Professor Dueñas’ creative approach to research has resulted in her manuscript being picked up by a major academic press; the book is complete and in production with the University Press of Colorado. Her book reconstructs the history of indigenous and mestizo intellectuals in mid and late colonial Peru, illuminating the writing practices and social agency of Andeans in their quest for social change. Dueñas elucidates, “I conclude that Andean scholarship from mid-and-late colonial Peru reflects the cultural changes of the colonized ethnic elites at the outset of modernity in Latin America. Their intellectual and political struggles reveal them as autonomous subjects, moving forward to undo their colonial condition of “Indians,” while expanding the intellectual sphere of colonial Peru to educated ‘Indios ladinos.’ They used writing, Transatlantic traveling, legal action, and even subtle support to rebellions, as means to improve their social standing and foster their ethnic autonomy under Spanish rule.” Dueñas concludes, “They attempted to participate in the administration of justice for Indians and seized every opportunity to occupy positions in the ecclesiastical and state bureaucracy.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Indians and Mestizos in the “Lettered City”: Reshaping Justice, Social Hierarchy, and Political Culture in Colonial Peru

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2011-12-03 23:41Z by Steven

Indians and Mestizos in the “Lettered City”: Reshaping Justice, Social Hierarchy, and Political Culture in Colonial Peru

University Press of Colorado
320 pages
5 line drawings, 1 map
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-60732-018-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-60732-019-7

Alcira Dueñas, Assistant Professor of Latin American History and World History
Ohio State University, Newark

Through newly unearthed texts virtually unknown in Andean studies, Indians and Mestizos in the “Lettered City” highlights the Andean intellectual tradition of writing in their long-term struggle for social empowerment and questions the previous understanding of the “lettered city” as a privileged space populated solely by colonial elites. Rarely acknowledged in studies of resistance to colonial rule, these writings challenged colonial hierarchies and ethnic discrimination in attempts to redefine the Andean role in colonial society.

Scholars have long assumed that Spanish rule remained largely undisputed in Peru between the 1570s and 1780s, but educated elite Indians and mestizos challenged the legitimacy of Spanish rule, criticized colonial injustice and exclusion, and articulated the ideas that would later be embraced in the Great Rebellion in 1781. Their movement extended across the Atlantic as the scholars visited the seat of the Spanish empire to negotiate with the king and his advisors for social reform, lobbied diverse networks of supporters in Madrid and Peru, and struggled for admission to religious orders, schools and universities, and positions in ecclesiastic and civil administration.

Indians and Mestizos in the “Lettered City” explores how scholars contributed to social change and transformation of colonial culture through legal, cultural, and political activism, and how, ultimately, their significant colonial critiques and campaigns redefined colonial public life and discourse. It will be of interest to scholars and students of colonial history, colonial literature, Hispanic studies, and Latin American studies.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Foundations of Seventeenth-Century Andean Scholarship
  • Chapter 3. Andean Scholarship in the Eighteenth Century: Writers, Networks,and Texts
  • Chapter 4. The European Background of Andean Scholarship
  • Chapter 5. Andean Discourses of Justice: The Colonial Judicial System under Scrutiny
  • Chapter 6. The Political Culture of Andean Elites: Social Inclusion and Ethnic Autonomy
  • Chapter 7. The Politics of Identity Formation in Colonial Andean Scholarship
  • Chapter 8. Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
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