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Volume 52 / Humanities

HISTORY: ETHNOHISTORY


South America

NOBLE DAVID COOK, Professor of History, Florida International University

THE CENTRAL ANDES continues to be the spatial focus of much of the best recent ethnohistorical research. In spite of pervasive political, social, and economic upheaval at the core, Peruvian contributions dominate. Indeed, perhaps because of the intellectual ferment in that country, there has been an impressive series of attempts at a new synthesis of the Andean past, including those by Manuel Burga (item bi 89009251), Waldemar Espinosa Soriano (item bi 89009253), Luis Millones (item bi 89009270), and María Rostworowski de Diez Canseco (item bi 89009248). Although interpretative differences abound, particularly on the nature of Inca polity, it is surprising that all agree that the past profoundly activates the nation's present, and that the true past is that of her native Americans, not the historical experience of the coastal Creoles.

The dominant ethnohistorian, in terms of monographic output during the past two years, seems to be Luis Millones. In addition to a masterly historical synthesis, he returned to a subject that has interested him for several years and compiled a volume (item bi 90009088) on the Taki Onqoy movement. With linguist Mary Louise Pratt (item bi 90012903) he broke new ground in an analysis of images of love and courtship in the Andes. Further, in a joint effort with Francisco Huamantinco and Edgar Sulca (item bi 89016187), Millones used anthropological perspectives to untangle the web of meaning of dramatic enactments of the death of Atahualpa.

Four specific monographs deserve note. In two the authors combine linguistic and anthropological methods: Rolena Adorno's study of Guamán Poma de Ayala (item bi 89014930), the culmination of several years of work on the important native chronicler, probes the individual as well as the meaning of symbolism within his illustrations; and Regina Harrison's examination of the translation of cultural norms (item bi 91014976) shifts from the early colonial period to the contemporary songs of Ecuadorian women in an insightful blend. Two other works probe the complex structure of Inca society: Gary Urton examines the myths of the origin of the Incas and links to the local elite of the community of Pacariqtambo (item bi 92016802), myths fostered during the early colonial era to gain prestige and power; and R. Tom Zuidema's analysis of the ceque system of Cusco, moiety, and ayllu is finally available in the English language (item bi 90012558).

Several works have appeared on the Bolivian Aymara; most important are the fine synthesis by Thérèse Bouysse-Cassagne (item bi 89009254), and articles by Thierry Saignes (items bi 89013908 and bi 89009282). Each attempts to map contact or early colonial ethnic entities in the region from Lake Titicaca to Lake Poopó. Chilean ethnohistory continues to be dominated by the Araucanian, and Araucanian-Spanish relations. Publication of the ethnohistorical sources for population units in greater Amazonia proceeds, along with mission histories of uneven value. In Colombia, Kathleen Romoli's lifelong study of the Cuevas (item bi 89009264) is valuable, while in Venezuela, Fernando Arellano has provided a massive compilation on native peoples (item bi 89009245).

Much exciting work was stimulated within the various sessions held at the International Congress of Americanists meeting (Bogotá, 1985). Of many excellent articles that were presented at Bogotá, Patricia Netherly's study of Inca penetration and control of Chimor (item bi 90008948) and Frank Salomon's application of onomatical analysis to information provided in a 1559 visita of an encomienda in the Quito basin (item bi 90008946) stand out. Such symposia provide one of the best forums for research on regional ethnohistorical issues, and are particularly valuable when publication of results is assured.


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