16 Sep 2010 - 17 Sep 2010 All day CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Registration online via the link at the top right hand side of this page.
Conference fee:  £18 


Dr Gabriela Ramos (Faculty of History, University of Cambridge)
Dr Yanna Yannakakis (
Faculty of History, Emory University)


Spanish colonialism produced a stunning array of new discursive forms arising from the crucible of intercultural struggle and engagement.  In colonial Mexico and the Andes, indigenous intellectuals were active agents in this process of cultural ferment, in particular in the production of knowledge.  Yet, there were significant differences between colonial Mexico and the Andes that have not received sufficient attention from historians.  This symposium thus adopts a comparative framework for the examination of indigenous intellectuals, with a view to understanding the extent to which the similarities and differences between indigenous societies in the two viceroyalties can be explained by the characteristics of pre-Columbian cultures, local politics, economic organization, and forms of adaptation to Spanish colonialism.  By focusing on indigenous intellectuals and the knowledge they produced and circulated, we hope to understand new facets of colonial experience, and just as importantly, how that experience was conceptualized.

Our understanding of “intellectual” embraces a wide social spectrum, including producers of written and oral texts, intermediary figures who interfaced with colonial agents and institutions, and organic intellectuals who maintained ties to local forms of economic production while directing and organizing social activity.  The forms of knowledge that these intellectuals produced were correspondingly varied: written and oral genres, legal documents, translations, rituals and public performances, and new forms of consciousness and collective identity.

From the first colonial encounters, what counted as knowledge from an indigenous versus a European perspective varied significantly. Participants in this symposium will be asked to reflect on i) competing and changing conceptions of knowledge, ii) who determined what counted as knowledge, iii) who claimed or had access to specific forms of knowledge, and iv) how knowledge was produced and circulated.  In the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru, the question of “who” always had an ethnic or racial dimension; therefore knowledge often had a racialized character.  One of our objectives in the symposium is to untangle the relationship between race and colonial forms of knowledge, and to revisit what we mean by “indigenous.”  In doing so, we hope to broaden our understandings of how power, wielded by a wide spectrum of indigenous people and embodied in varied forms of discourse, shaped social relationships at the micro-level of indigenous communities and the macro-level of colonial jurisdictions and institutions.


Accommodation for Delegates

Conference delegates can find information about accommodation in Cambridge via
Visit Cambridge or  Cambridge Rooms.

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of delegate accommodation.



The conference convenors would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the following sponsors:

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Trevelyan Fund of the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, Centre of Latin American Studies and Newnham College.


Administrative assistance: Michelle Maciejewska


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk