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Indigenous Writers in Colonial Peru


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Writing in the Land of Knots: Indigenous Writers in Colonial Peru

The European technology of alphabetic writing was introduced in Spanish America as part of the process of Catholic evangelization and Spanish colonization. Framed in European sources as a marker of civilization, writing had some serious competition in the complex mediascape that characterized the viceroyalty of Peru. Indigenous inhabitants of the Andean territory, governed by the Incas prior to 1532, appropriated the European media using it alongside their own systems of communication, quipus, knotted cords used to record quantitative and narrative information. Although Europeans and their descendants never learned how to use quipus, they became part of evangelization and colonial administration practices.

Prof. Laura Leon Llerena (Spanish & Portuguese) offers a reframing and re-telling of the history of writing in colonial Peru that discusses the social role that the European mode of communication acquired for indigenous peoples who ‘failed to marvel’ (Seed 1991) at alphabetic writing.

The Buffett Institute Faculty & Fellows Colloquium brings together an interdisciplinary audience to build awareness of global research on campus. This series promotes dialogue on scholarship and develops a deeper sense of community among Buffett Institute affiliates. Each meeting lasts one hour; lunch is provided. Due to space constraints, we will not admit attendees once the space reaches capacity.