Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Columbia University
A New World’s-Knowledge: Colonial Andean Historical Cosmography, 1551-1656

My dissertation is a study of a Colonial Andean intellectual field of historical and cosmographical thought that emerged in the first century of European rule of the Andean Region. The Spanish conquest of the so-called New World in the sixteenth century worked as a refutation of the historiographical and cosmographical paradigms of Classical and Biblical traditions at work in Western Europe, while it devastated the intellectual traditions of Indigenous Americans. As a result, new forms of world imagining and new ways of narrating the history of the now broader humankind were imperative. I argue that, alongside conquest and colonization, innovative answers to how to think the world’s history and cosmography emerged in Colonial Andes. These answers, theses that understood the whole world as a single entity fully integrated in time and space, are the main object of my dissertation. By analyzing novel ideas about historical time and cosmographical spaces that were forged in the circulation of material and written sources from different parts of the world, I tell the story of a yet unacknowledged intellectual revolution of Early Modernity. The endeavors of Colonial Andean agents to create new understandings of the world’s history and cosmography were a groundbreaking innovation of Early Modernity. The Colonial Andean corpus has been studied as a testimony of the expansion of Western culture and the end of Indigenous traditions. My dissertation offers an alternative understanding of these works by framing them as novel cosmographical and historiographical treatises and unveiling their inventive epistemological principles. I focus on sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spanish Colonial Andean texts, including conquerors, such as Betanzos and Cieza, religious figures, like Acosta and Murúa; and Indigenous ethnic lords, such as Guamán Poma and Santacruz Pachachutiq. I read them alongside both Western Classical and Modern sources and Pre-Columbian Andean cultures' archaeological vestiges.