Legacies of Conquest: Transnational perspectives on the conquest and colonization of Latin America

11 April 2017 - 12 April 2017

Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

Registration for the conference is now closed. 



Jenny Mander (University of Cambridge)

David Midgley (University of Cambridge)

Maya Feile Tomes (University of Cambridge)



The discovery of the ‘New World’ is one of the standard reference points for defining ‘modernity’ from a European perspective. It is also a historical event that has had manifest repercussions for the interaction of human cultures around the globe. This symposium will provide the opportunity for a comparative inquiry into the ways in which key aspects of the conquest and colonisation of Latin America by Europeans have been represented and transmitted in writing, in visual culture, and in performance culture down the centuries and across a range of national cultures.

Two keynote speakers will provide the symposium with perspectives that run beyond the European. Dr Stefanie Gänger (Assistant Professor at Cologne University) is the author of Relics of the Past. The Collecting and Studying of Pre-Columbian Antiquities in Peru and Chile, 1837–1911 (2014), and she will be speaking on the historical constraints on understanding the native cultures of Latin America through archaeology and ethnography. Professor João Cezar de Castro Rocha (Rio de Janeiro) is President of the Brazilian Association of Comparative Literature. His latest book is Shakespearean Cultures. The Challenge of Mimesis (forthcoming 2017), and he will speak on the role that reflections of European traditions have played within the development of Latin American cultures.




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Modern Humanities Research Association, and the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. 


Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk


We are unable to arrange or book accommodation for registrants; however, the following websites may be of help:

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University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

Day 1 - Tuesday 11 April

9.00 - 9.30


9.30 - 9.45

Welcome & Introductory Remarks

9.45 - 11.15

Session 1: Cultural Memory

Moderator: Jenny Mander (University of Cambridge)


Andrés Bustamante (University of Cambridge)

'American Aztlán: Cultural Memory After the Mexican-American War'


Eduardo Corredera (University of Cambridge)

'The Indians of Europe in Sierra Morena: reputation, emulation and colonisation in the Spanish Enlightenment'


Leslie Nancy Hernández Nova (Research Associate, ERC project 'Bodies Across Borders', European University Institute)

'The reminiscences of the conquest in the cultural memory of Peruvian migration in Europe (Sweden, Italy and Spain): oral and visual memory'

11.15 - 11.45

Tea & Coffee Break

11.45 - 13.15

Session 2: Politics of Landscape

Moderator: Charles Jones (University of Cambridge)


Bas Gooijer (University of Groningen)

'Tierra del Fuego: outside the New World, inside Latin America'


Chiara Pagnotta (University of Barcelona)

'Representations of the Ecuadorian East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries'


Ana Pulido-Rull (University of Arkansas)

'Native artists and the defence of territory in 16th-century New Spain'

13.15 - 14.15


14.15 - 16.15

Session 3: Material Culture

Moderator: Jenny Mander (University of Cambridge)


Beatriz Marín-Aguilera (University of Cambridge), in collaboration with Leonor Adán and Simón Urbina

'Archaeology and otherness discourses: the colonial landscape of Valdivia between the 16th and 18th centuries'


Christine D. Beaule (University of Hawaii)

'Qeros, unkus, and the impact of Inka and Spanish conquest on material culture in settler colonial states'


Callie Vandewiele (University of Cambridge)

'Our Grandmother's looms: Q'eqchi' weavers, museum textiles and the repatriation of lost knowledge'


Joanna Ostapkowicz (University of Oxford)

'Integrating the Old World into the New: Europe within an indigenous Caribbean perspective'

16.15 - 16.45

Tea & Coffee Break

16.45 - 17.45

Keynote Lecture

Moderator: David Midgley (University of Cambridge)


Stefanie Gänger (University of Cologne)

'A thing of the past. Representation, material culture and Indigeneity in post-conquest Andean South America'


Reception in St John’s College, Fisher Building Foyer

Day 2 - Wednesday 12 April

9.00 - 10.30

Session 4: Cultural Refashioning

Moderator: Maite Conde (University of Cambridge)


Angela Sanders (Université de Neuchâtel)

'Migration and the making of Andean Switzerland'


Diego Stefanelli (University of Pavia)

'Between science and immigration: representations of South America by Italian scientists at the end of the 19th century'


Jack Webb (University of London)

'The mechanics of silencing: British interpretations of the Haitian Empire'

10.30 - 11.00

Tea & Coffee Break

11.00 - 13.00

Session 5: Cultural (Con)fusions

Moderator: Maya Feile Tomes (University of Cambridge)


Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz (University of Stirling)

'The con/fusion of Andean and Christian concepts'


David Tavárez (Vassar College)

'Refashioning indigenous humanism in colonial Mexico'


Joanne van der Woude (University of Groningen)

'Classical translation in the colonies: challenging imperialism through poetry'


Connie Bloomfield (University of Cambridge)

'Classical reception in northeast-Brazilian popular poetry'

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 6: African Dimensions

Moderator: Brad Epps (University of Cambridge)


Lucy Foster (University of Cambridge)

'Afro-Mexican communities of coastal Mexico and creative attempts at the recuperation of an alternative national narrative'


Miguel A. Valerio (Ohio State University)

'Native American visions of "black conquistadors" in Mesoamerican codices'


Leo J. Garofalo (Connecticut College)

'Afro-Iberians in the conquest and colonization and black space production in Andean Societies'

15.30 - 15.45

Tea & Coffee Break

15.45 - 17.15

Session 7 – Utopias

Moderator: Sara Delmedico (University of Cambridge)


Julia McClure (University of Warwick)

'The utopia of poverty'


Jane Campbell (University of Exeter)

'Sir Balthazar Gerbier’s utopian dreams of the New World'


Fabrizio Melai (University of Pisa) 

'The impossible dialogue between Plato and Epicurus: José Manuel Peramás's Commentarius on Paraguayan Missions'

17.15 - 17.30

Short Break

17.30 - 18.30

Keynote Lecture

Moderator: Maya Feile Tomes (University of Cambridge)


João Cezar de Castro Rocha (Rio de Janeiro State University)

'The aemulatio model in Latin American cultures: literary and visual representations and their relation to European antecedents'

18.30 - 19.00

Closing Discussion

Christine D. Beaule (University of Hawaii)

'Qeros, unkus, and the impact of Inka and Spanish conquest on material culture in settler colonial states'

This paper addresses the impact of conquest and colonialism on indigenous Andean peoples from a cross-cultural perspective. Using Prehispanic and Colonial Period examples, I use two classes of material culture to explore religious evangelization and transculturation. Andean qeros (ceramic/wooden cups for ritual chicha consumption) date back over 2000 years; qero forms and decorations reveal patterns in ritual observation, evangelization, and creolization from the Tiwanaku State (AD 400-1000) through the early Colonial Period. Complimentary data come from parallel analyses of indigenous unku (tunics) before and after the conquest. Together, tunics and ritual cups reveal patterns in the ways that Tiwanaku, Inka, and Spanish cultures penetrated others.

This argument contributes to a critical discussion of material culture theory and settler colonialism. By comparing colonialism’s impact within two different kinds of states, it offers a broader critique of settler colonial theory. How did varying levels of contact with a dominant polity affect these important local religious artifacts and symbols of indigenous ethnic identity? How do the two kinds of states (the territorially aggressive Inka and Spanish versus ceremonial, non-militaristic Tiwanaku) have on these patterns of variability? Addressing these questions problematizes generalizations about degrees of assimilation and cultural exchange within settler colonial states.


Connie Bloomfield (University of Cambridge)

'Classical reception in northeast-Brazilian popular poetry'

Cordel is a unique and vibrant northeast-Brazilian popular-folk poetry, directly descended from the Iberian ballad tradition which was imported to Brazil during colonisation. Volantes, or poetic flyers, were brought to Brazil from Portugal as early as the 16th century, and an oral poetic tradition developed in the rural northeast in the style of European wandering troubadours. The Garnier bookstore began importing fuller booklets of Portuguese verse to Brazil in the 19th century, which were rewritten in the northeast in the metric form of Iberian romances. The links to European legacies are still clear today; Charlemagne and the twelve knights remains a favourite cordelian theme. I will discuss how this colonial influence combined with the indigenous and African oral cultures to become cordel. Cordel is very much a poetry of the people, and documents the engagement with and perception of colonial influence from the viewpoint of the poorer and uneducated Brazilian people. Despite the important role cordel plays in Brazilian cultural identity, it has been largely overlooked by academics. I will reveal the transmission of Iberian ballad poetry as the crucial moment it was, and point to its critical contributions to significant moments in Brazilian culture, such as the Movimento Armorial


Andrés Bustamante (University of Cambridge)

‘American Aztlán: Cultural Memory After the Mexican-American War’

Collapsed against a rocky outcrop, a young woman looks towards the heavens in anguish; one hand clutches the wound at her chest, while the other limply carries a rosary. Thomas Crawford’s 1847 marble sculpture, ‘Mexican Girl Dying,’ captures her last breath. At first glance, this allegory of William Prescott’s 1843 The History of the Conquest of Mexico, a pseudo-historical bestseller, appears to be a purely artistic or intellectual exercise. At the same time, while the American artist living in Rome carved his sculpture, American soldiers lay siege to the port of Veracruz, Mexico. Armed with rifles and military issued copies of Prescott’s work, they imagined themselves retracing Cortés’ route to conquer the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. This paper will examine the ways in which American artists, archaeologists, and cartographers engaged with and appropriated the pre-Columbian past and Spanish conquest in the aftermath of the Mexican-American war—when the United States annexed half of Mexico’s territory—as an aesthetic political framework through which the United States could mediate its relationship to this new land. For Anglo settlers, the American Southwest was terra incognita. These narratives functioned as a lens for envisioning and constructing a coherent landscape—structuring their relationship to the region’s archaeological remains, mineral wealth, and local populations.


Jane Campbell (University of Exeter)

'Sir Balthazar Gerbier’s utopian dreams of the New World'

Utopian writing and transatlantic colonial projects flourished in the seventeenth century. Between 1623 and 1660 the Anglo-Dutch courtier Balthazar Gerbier conceived several New World projects, including an unrealised utopian plan for a new state, a literary utopia and an ill-fated colony. This paper will consider Gerbier’s utopian vision for this region as a reflection of an elite early modern Europe, its values and culture.

Gerbier’s reputation as a schemer has recently been revised to reveal a complex Renaissance man, but his transatlantic schemes have been largely unexamined. His Project for Establishing a New State in America (1623; 1649) was written for the Duke of Buckingham who had a secret contract with King Adolphus of Sweden to make Buckingham ‘Master’ of ‘Florida, Jamaica, Havana, and Hispaniola’ and outlines a fully-realised state with a rich material culture ruled by princes and nobles. His 1654 literary utopia echoes this, while a more practical, but still idealistic, plan to settle Guiana in 1658 ended in tragedy. This paper identifies a moment of flux in European perceptions of the southern New World, as a site of the European utopian imagination became intertwined with the lived reality of colonial experiences, capable of destroying dreams and dreamers.


João Cezar de Castro Rocha, (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)

'The aemulatio model in Latin American cultures: literary and visual representations and their relation to European antecedents'

In this lecture, I will present the theoretical framework of the 'poetics of emulation', based upon a deliberately anachronistic return to the classical technique of aemulatio. However, the two should not be confused; aemulatio belonged to a specific rhetorical system, the foundations of which were gradually undermined by the advent of Romanticism. In classical poetics, one undertook the imitatio of a model seen as the auctoritas in a given genre in order to then carry out the aemulatio of that same model.

Deliberate anachronism lends a new cast to key aspects of classical poetics. As I propose, 'poetics of emulation' must be understood as a strategy developed in situations of asymmetrical power relations. This strategy takes in an array of procedures employed by artists, intellectuals, writers – inventors, in short, placed at the less-favored side of such exchanges, whether they be cultural, political, or economic in nature. The poetics of emulation is an intellectual, artistic approach to dealing with the situation of objective inequality. This theoretical framework will be discussed through the analysis of colonial paintings and literary texts from the Latin American tradition.


Eduardo Corredera (University of Cambridge)

'The Indians of Europe in Sierra Morena: reputation, emulation and colonisation in the Spanish Enlightenment'

This paper aims to unearth how ideas of reconquista, conquest, and the colonisation of the Americas refracted on the self-perception of the Spanish peninsula in the second half of the eighteenth century. The fear of peninsular Spanish reformers in the eighteenth century that their people would be seen as the Indians of Europe, building on a popular saying that stated 'Spain is the Indies for foreigners', has been understated. The notion of the Americas as a separate people in eighteenth century Spanish peninsular thought is in itself reflective of the tensions that would arise in the drafting of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812.

The historiography suggests the eighteenth century peninsular reformers saw a separation between the state as part of the European realm of moeurs and civilisation, and the Empire as the vast swathes of land that belonged to the monarchy. However, how they perpetuated this divide has yet to be studied. An agrarian experiment in Sierra Morena in Andalucia in 1768 led by the creole Pablo de Olavide would challenge this distinction. As such it provides the case study for this paper to flesh out how notions of civilisation, conquest and colonisation refracted on the ideas of the nation in the Spanish peninsula.


Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz (University of Stirling) 

'The Con/fusion of Andean and Christian Concepts'

Colonial descriptions of the colonisation of the Andes show how the European authors tried to understand and interpret indigenous concepts: for example, how a conquistador would describe and translate the meaning of a native religious specialist (as 'bishop'); how Andean ways of worship would be expressed in Western words and meanings (by using the same Quechua term for 'idolatry' and 'worship'); and, in the other direction, how the European understanding of 'sin' or 'God' would be transferred into the indigenous language (the missionaries would base themselves on concepts they thought were close to identical in both cultures). But it has also to be asked how indigenous authors used these terms and interpret their old and new meanings.

Colonial works show how missionaries and Andean authors paved the way for the convergence and fusion of Christian and native belief forms which until the present form the basis of what is called Andean religion. I argue that – despite the unequal power structure – the methods of translation and re-contextualisation made it possible for Andean faith to be largely maintained, incorporating Christian elements, rather than becoming a form of syncretism dominated by Christian religion.


Lucy Foster (University of Cambridge)

'Afro-Mexican communities of coastal Mexico and creative attempts at the recuperation of an alternative national narrative'

Examining  representations of Afro-Mexican communities on the Costa Chica, I will propose a de-centred approach to the question of Mexico’s colonial legacy through consideration of the problematic status and aesthetic, cultural and territorial implications of photographic collections including Tierra Negra by Maya Goded and of coastal publications including the literary magazine Fandango. At different moments in history, the coastline has been represented as a border, a marginal zone, a space of transience or of dwelling, both as the point of closest contact with other territories and the isolationist demarcation between ‘self’ and ‘other’. As a land/water divide the littoral line is a contiguous border, the junction of two extremities, a dovetailing of elements and of difference, which also makes it a fitting symbol for the uneven process of syncretisation and nationalistic restitution in the wake of conquest.


Stefanie Gänger (Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne)

'A thing of the past. Representation, material culture and indigeneity in post-conquest Latin America'

South and Mesoamerican ‘antiquities’ were not just objects of scholarly analysis, collecting and study, long before the methods associated with the discipline of archaeology came into existence; they were, and remain to this day, a great many other things – implicated with political ideologies, subject to global market forces, engaging to aesthetic sensibilities, and, perhaps most importantly, crystalizing visions of indigeneity. This talk is an inquiry into the ways in which various societies ‘indigenous’ to South and Mesoamerican have been represented, transmitted and understood through their material culture in the wake of the Iberian conquest. Based on a wide range of sources – from private collection inventories to the proceedings of international congresses – the talk narrates the long history of antiquarianism and archaeology in and of Andean South America, and the manifold and diverse representations of ‘Indian’ societies – as primitive or classical, ancestral or alien, lethargic or quarrelsome – before and after the conquest, attendant to it.


Leo J. Garofalo (Connecticut College)

'Afro-Iberians in the conquest and colonization and black space production in Andean Societies'

Afro-Iberians and Africans played key roles in the conquest, colonization, and Christianization of the Americas, but European accounts of the encounters among human cultures in Latin America and the contemporary or modern national narratives about the conquest and colonization render virtually invisible this significant contribution by one of Latin American societies’ core foundational groups. One step in reclaiming this history and restoring Afro-Latinos as historical agents deeply involved in the processes of conquest and colonization involves documenting the voices and actions of black Europeans as represented by the Afro-Iberian sailors, soldiers, traders, and other travelers of the 1500s and 1600s. Another step in challenging official national discourses that invisibilize Afrodescendants and whiten history with 'mestizaje' by incorporating indigeneity while keeping blackness at bay involves revealing the production of black spaces in the colonial Andes. These ongoing and complex processes resulted in the production not so much of Andean spaces for black nucleation or isolation as in opportunities for Africans and Afrodescendants to interact and negotiate with other sociocultural and political actors in the racial/spatial order. This two-pronged approach challenges historical amnesia and the logic of elimination, provides two examples of the missing conquest history, and offers strategies for self-recognition.  


Bas Gooijer (University of Groningen)

'Tierra del Fuego: outside the New World, inside Latin America'

There is a place in Latin America that lies outside the New World, although it was in fact the last corner of the New World to be conquered and colonized: Tierra del Fuego. Its name reminds us of what sailors passing the archipelago witnessed from their boats: bonfires that set the land on fire. Although Europeans discovered it in the 1520s, it was not until the Argentinian conquest of Patagonia at the end of the nineteenth century that Tierra del Fuego became colonized and was therefore given a place in world history. Before that, there had been few and small European settlements, solely dedicated to the trade that arose from the riches of the sea. As people, the indigenous of the archipelago owe their image in history to the European depiction of them as ‘noble savages’ living in a utopian land. When most of the indigenous people died during the late colonization and conquest, most of their own history died with them. In this paper, I will argue that because Tierra del Fuego has never been the property of Europe, the history of its people has been neglected in the historiography in Argentina and of Latin America. However, that is changing now.


Leslie Nancy Hernández Nova (Research Associate, ERC project 'Bodies Across Borders', European University Institute)

'The reminiscences of the conquest in the cultural memory of Peruvian migration in Europe (Sweden, Italy and Spain): oral and visual memory'

This paper will provide some reflections on the different visions on Conquest as an event that emerge from the cultural memory of Peruvian migrants in Europe. I am conducting a comparative inquiry into the ways in which some aspects of the conquest and colonisation of Peru are rememorized and how they are represented and transmitted between different generations across Europe using oral and visual materials produced by the witnesses during field work as well as artistic works of Peruvian artists who are resident in Europe, in particular Daniela Ortiz (Barcelona, Spain), Yelitza Altamirano (Turin, Italy) and Fernando Caseres (Stockholm, Sweden).

The memory of conquest among Peruvian communities in Europe sometimes has the form of a performance of multi-cultural affiliations. The memory of conquest can facilitate a connection with European territory in the case of migration trajectories but can also make it difficult to stay. The constant connection with the cosmographies and local cultures (Coast, Sierra and Forest) is relevant to maintaining a range of diversity of national cultures.

Another element of interest that Peruvian cultural memory wants to remember and transmit is the pre-colonial period both Inca and pre-Inca. The memory of ancient languages is represented through the words that remain in the memory of people living in Europe. Though some lists of words apparently tend to isolate, words also show the efforts made to keep alive this linguistic cultural heritage, consisting mainly in Quechua in the Peruvian diaspora present in Europe.


Julia McClure (University of Warwick)

'The utopia of poverty'

When the Franciscans arrived in the Americas, shortly after the first voyage, they carried with them the complex conceptual baggage of poverty. The Franciscans, a socio-religious movement with a unique doctrine of voluntary poverty, had developed a multi-layered understanding of the concept of poverty in the Middle Ages and their imaginations had fed upon mystical and eschatological intellectual currents. When they arrived in the Americas they interpreted the Amerindians as poor like them and saw an opportunity to create a world of shared poverty. This had eschatological overtones, as this state of shared poverty had been prophesied by Joachim di Fiore as the Age of the Spirit which would precede the Second Coming. The Franciscans valourised poverty and they inscribed their beliefs about poverty into the physical and cultural landscapes of the Americas; these ideas interacted with Amerindian beliefs and the hardships of the colonial experience and hybridised cultures of poverty were born in the Franciscan missions. Like the Vasco de Quiroga’s hospital towns of Santa Fe, the Franciscans were influenced by cultures of humanism and the idea of utopia, but theirs was a utopia of poverty. The poverty politics that the Franciscans brought to the early colonial ferment of the Americas had lasting legacies. They impacted not only on local cultures of religion but played a role in later socio-political movements, most notably the theology of the liberation movement which emerged in the twentieth century, coalesced around the idea of solidarity with the poor and often used the image of St Francisca.


Beatriz Marin-Aguilera (University of Cambridge), in collaboration with Leonor Adán and Simón Urbina (both of the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia)

'Archaeology and otherness discourses: the colonial landscape of Valdivia between the 16th and 18th centuries'

The city of Valdivia was founded ca. 1552 by Spaniards at the site of a previous indigenous settlement. Even if the Spanish official discourse and traditional historiography have emphasised the ‘pacific integration’ of Valdivia and its territory into the Spanish empire, the socio-political situation was mostly characterised by strained relationships. Several rebellions and conflicts followed one another in quick succession from the very beginning, and by the 17th century the area of Valdivia became one of the most heavily fortified within the Spanish empire against indigenous attacks. Otherness discourses permeated official accounts through the period, in which fortresses and castles represented the ‘Spanishness’ on the colonial borderland, i.e. a liminal space of exclusion and difference in the region. Yet, archaeological investigations have recently shown that the majority of pottery found in fortifications such as San Pedro de Alcántara on Mancera island, and in the city of Valdivia was mostly of indigenous tradition. In this paper we evaluate this new evidence in connection with the construction of official otherness discourses aiming at reassessing native population’s representation on the Chilean colonial borderland between the 16th and 18th centuries.


Fabrizio Melai (University of Pisa)

'The impossible dialogue between Plato and Epicurus: José Manuel Peramás's Commentarius on Paraguayan Missions'

In 1793 a posthumous work of the former Catalan Jesuit José Manuel Peramás was published: De administratione guaranica comparate ad rem publicam Platonis commentarius. In this work Peramás compares the famous Jesuit missions of Paraguay to the ideal State described in Plato's Republic and Laws. Nevertheless Peramás introduces a third benchmark: the State that was arising from the French Revolution, especially since the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790) had introduced a separation between religion and political institutions. Thus the experience of the old Jesuit missions is for Peramás the heritage of classical political thought, in contrast with philosophical and political innovations of a 'new era'. This polemical comparison between tradition and political modernity was actually a delegitimizing strategy toward the consequences of the Revolution, that not by chance were assimilated to political 'Epicureanism'. Peramás's traditionalist thought did not evolve in an overall reply to Revolution, but it showed some elements that were typical of Christian traditionalism in the age of Restauration.


Joanna Ostapkovicz (University of Oxford)

'Integrating the Old World into the New: Europe within an indigenous Caribbean perspective'

Much has been written about the events and consequences of 1492 and the discovery of a 'New World' on Caribbean shores – a narrative scripted almost entirely through the prism of European conquest and colonialism. In contrast, indigenous Caribbean perspectives on these early encounters remain largely unknown, overshadowed by a turbulent period in which diseases, imposed slavery and assimilation practices led to large-scale demographic and cultural collapse on islands like Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) by ca. 1550. In efforts to explore indigenous agency during the early years of Spanish/Native interaction, this paper focuses on three rare cotton artefacts from Hispaniola – two belts and a cemí – that incorporate a lavish display of European trade goods. Glass and jet beads, mirrors and brass ornaments were integrated into these prestigious objects, offering a glimpse into how Old World exotics were reinterpreted within indigenous value systems during a period of cultural transition and change. It also follows the histories of these long-term museum survivors, documenting their re-interpretations outside Caribbean contexts.


Chiara Pagnotta (University of Barcelona)

'Representations of the Equadorian East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries'

Historically, Europe and Latin America developed economic, social, political and cultural relations that nurtured the creation of an imaginary and perception of an otherness which fed on that same representation. In particular, at the end of the 19th century, following independence, Europeans re-elaborated their own role in relation to Latin America and the imaginary of themselves as bearers of progress to places beyond Europe. These imaginaries of civilisation were developed and re-elaborated by various actors, both Europeans and Latin Americans.

The aim of this paper is to analyse the 'representations' of the Amazon and its inhabitants that Europeans and the Equadorian elite by mutual influence created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I will focus primarily on the Shuar group and begin with photographs taken by George Huebner, Charles Kroehle, Josè Domingo Lasso, Manuel Jesús Serrano and anonymous Salesian missionaries, among others. My hypothesis is that the images were utilised as visual proof of the 'civilising' process and contemporaneously as a tool to give objectivity to the narration of local societies.


Ana Pulido-Rull (University of Arkansas)

'Painting the lands of colonial Mexico: Native artists and the defense of territory in sixteenth-century New Spain'

This paper analyzes how native cultures from colonial Mexico responded to Spanish land distribution policies through the examination of the maps they painted as evidence for the legal proceedings known as 'land grants' or mercedes de tierras. The Spanish Crown implemented this programme in the sixteenth century to allocate the territory of New Spain among its dwellers in an orderly fashion and prevent illegal occupation. The Viceroy specifically requested a painted map as part of the evidence for each lawsuit and this task usually fell on local indigenous artists. In this paper I argue that native-made maps did much more than recording the disputed territories for the lawsuits; they enabled indigenous communities to translate their own ideas about the contested space into visual form, offered compelling arguments for the defense of these spaces, and in some cases even helped them preserve community lands. I will discuss how these images bolstered indigenous claims in legal proceedings and challenged the information presented by the Spaniards in the written case files. The intertextuality between these different forms of spatial practices—written and visual—offer a more nuanced view of the social conflicts faced by indigenous communities in sixteenth-century Mexico and their response to these.


Angela Sanders (University of Neuchâtel)

'Migration and the making of Andean Switzerland'

In the post-war period, governmental and economic relations between Switzerland and Peru intensified. Swiss media praised Peru as a ‘wonderland’, bearing abundance and numerous possibilities; for immigration as well as for the development of new territories.

A growing nationalist consciousness for the ‘Swiss abroad’, emphasising their importance as economic ‘outposts’, stimulated the construction of a self-image as a pioneering ‘Swiss colony’ in Peru and encouraged Swiss actors to embark on a ‘civilising mission’ on behalf of Swiss development in the 1960s.

Pronouncing the geographical 'similarities' between the Alps along with the Andes, Swiss technicians set off to bring the ‘fruits of civilization’ from Switzerland to the Andean valleys. Imagining themselves as bearers of a higher mission, they believed that through better (Swiss) cows, better forage and the production and commercialization of Swiss cheese, the ‘underdeveloped’ Andean population would make up for their lag in development and be able to access the market economy.

Drawing from ethnographic and archival material, this paper shows that the entanglement of Swiss economic and humanitarian involvement in the Andes by the implementation of hydroelectricity and aid projects can be interpreted as symbolic ‘colonisation’, which both legitimised and presumably proved Swiss superior presence in Peru.


Diego Stefanelli (University of Pavia)

'Between science and immigration: representations of South America by Italian scientists at the end of the 19th century'

The contribution aims to investigate the representation of South America provided by some Italian scientists at the end of the 19th century. In their accounts, South America (mainly Argentina) was both a new, wild world and a young, promising land for Italian immigrants. How did these two levels interact? How was the scientific representation of South America functional to the rhetoric of the encouraged economical 'conquest' of the new country? The link between these aspects is particularly evident in Rio de la Plata e Tenerife. Viaggi e studj (1867, 1870, 1876), written by Paolo Mantegazza, the founder of Italian anthropology. The book is not only an anthropological inquiry into the indigenous peoples of the Rio de la Plata, but also a literary representation of new, uncommon landscapes and a useful guide for Italian immigrants. The complexity of the text reflects the multiple identity of the narrator: not only an anthropologist, but also a doctor, a traveller in search of exotic adventures and a sort of 'entrepreneur', who studies the better ways to exploit the wild and rich South American nature. The paper will place Mantegazza’s work within the context of other interesting and less explored Italian writings on South America of the same period, such as Pellegrino Strobel’s Viaggi nell’Argentina meridionale (1869) and Angelo De Gubernatis’ L’Argentina. Ricordi e Letture (1898).


David Tavárez (Vassar College)

'Refashioning indigenous humanism in colonial Mexico'

After the conquest of the Aztec empire came the friars, armed not only with catechisms, but with theological and humanistic works. The Franciscans were behind this intellectual conquest: Bishop Zumárraga, an avowed Erasmist, brought his personal library, while his brethren established the Colegio de Santa Cruz, a hub for indigenous education. The influence of humanism has been ascertained through its impact on Franciscan works on indigenous religion. This presentation moves into a new direction through a survey of poorly known theological and humanistic works adapted into native languages in an attempt to refashion an indigenous humanist self. This paper focuses on a Nahuatl adaptation of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitatio Christi that links Christ to the wisdom of a preconquest deity, and on a Nahuatl commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon, banned by the Mexican Inquisition in 1577, which includes citations from Ovid and Aristotle. Other works in the corpus include a Zapotec doctrine that incorporates Aquinas' discussion of idolatry; a Nahuatl adaptation of a treatise by Denys the Carthusian; and a Nahuatl version of a popular work by Luis de Granada. In the end, colonial authorities considered these projects as a dangerous strand of humanistic thought that defied Counter-Reformation policies.


Miguel A. Valerio (Ohio State University)

'Native American visions of "black conquistadors" in Mesoamerican codices'

A good number of people of African descent, both slave and free, actively participated in the 'conquest' and colonization of Latin America. This means that there was an encounter of a third kind: between Africans and native Americans. While the scholarship has documented the black presence in the 'conquest' and colonization of the Americas (Gerhard 1978; Restall 2014), little attention has been paid to the black-native encounter. In this presentation, I would like to explore what graphic representations of 'black conquistadors' in post-conquest Mesoamerican codices tell us about this encounter. I analyze and compare the representation of an African warrior in the middle of a battle/field in the Nahual Quauhquechollan Cloth (Guatemala, c. 1530) with those of the Azcatitlan (Mexico, c. 1550) and Telleriano-Remensis (Mexico, c. 1565) codices. I argue that the Quauhquechollan Cloth, produced away from the center of power, constitutes a more authentic representation of how Mesoamericans saw blacks; while the other two codices, produced alongside Spanish friars, contain mediated representations of how blacks were presented to native Americans by Spanish colonizers.


Joanne van der Woude (University of Groningen)

'Classical translation in the colonies: challenging imperialism through poetry'

Around 1600, a group of writers from Lima quickly became famous: their works were printed in Seville and even praised by Cervantes. This paper considers a volume by that group: Primera parte del Parnaso Antártico (1603), for its surprising response to conquest. The book is renowned for its translation of Ovid’s Heroides by Diego Mexía and its prologue written under the pen name Clarinda. The prologue’s (anonymous) female voice surveys the latest European literary theory and suggests a canon of women writers. The ensuing Heroides consist of 15 letters from classical heroines to the men who have abandoned or abused them. This accusing chorus includes Dido: the forebear of the wronged native princess that was already a staple of New World texts.

By having the Heroides follow Clarinda, the Parnaso seems to prove the value of female voices that the prologue asserts. It also emphasizes and endorses the voices of the defeated, colonized, and enslaved. Thus, the Parnaso employs the idea of translatio in multiple subversive ways: while the high quality of Mexía’s Ovid proves the excellence of creole poetics, its apparent response to earlier American texts (and implicitly, European, patriarchal rule) make the heroines’ letters signify in new ways.


Callie Vandewiele (University of Cambridge)

'Our grandmother's looms: Q'eqchi' weavers, museum textiles and the repatriation of lost knowledge'

Museum objects and their repatriation have held an increasingly contentious space in the world of historical preservation and anthropological research in recent decades. Textile objects are among the most difficult of museum objects to store, preserve and repatriate. Clothing objects, as noted by Elizabeth Brumfield in her 2006 Article for American Anthropologist, 'Cloth, Gender, Continuity, and Change: Fabricating Unity in Anthropology' play an important, unrecognized and often gendered role in the preservation, development and evolution of cultural and social identities. Among the Q'eqchi' Maya of the Alta Verapaz of Guatemala, the roughly 200 remaining weavers of the traditional Picb'il blouse, or huipil, the question of repatriating specific objects is subsumed by the concept of repatriating the knowledge contained within those objects. Through interviews with over 60 Q'eqchi' weavers of these blouses, emerges an understanding of the production and use of textile objects (primarily and almost exclusively done by women) as an important avenue for preserving and maintaining Q'eqchi' culture, language and history. Weavers in these communities play not only an important role in earning a secondary income, but in providing the framework for individual, family and community identities. For these weavers, access to historic textiles provides them with a link transcending temporal boundaries to reconnect with long-dead weavers, by reviving stylistic choices, patterns and designs that have been lost before or during Guatemala's 36-year-long civil conflict.


Jack Webb (University of London)

'The mechanics of silencing: British interpretations of the Haitian empire'

In 1852, the emperor of Haiti, Faustin (Soulouque) I, produced and distributed across the Atlantic World, the Album Imperial d’Haïti. This leather-bound volume involves two landscapes of the emperor’s coronation, and twelve respective portraits of the emperor, the empress, and their royal household. Following its Revolution (1791–1804), in which the major imperial powers of Europe were defeated, and the universal emancipation of the enslaved was (twice) declared, Haiti gained a fragile independence from France. Some half a century later, the collection of images produced by Soulouque provided a fervent statement of the authority, and legitimacy, of his newly-established empire.

In this paper, I explore the way in which this album was received in the British context. I pay particular attention to its interpretation in a ‘reproduced’ image in the Illustrated London News, a newspaper that focused on the role of the British empire in global politics. I argue that the image of Soulouque, found in the album, was used as evidence of the failure of French colonialism. Through distortions to the facial features of Soulouque, and descriptions provided in the accompanying article in the newspaper, I argue that the emperor was portrayed as the undesirable consequence of extending French revolutionary practices to the Caribbean. Through presenting Haiti as an example of French colonial failure, the image of Soulouque becomes perceived as evidence of the exceptionality of the British empire. Soulouque’s statement of Haitian sovereignty is thus silenced in its reception in the British context.