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Andean Cosmopolitans: Seeking Justice and Reward at the Spanish Royal Court

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Winner, Premio Flora Tristán Al Mejor Libro, Peru Section, Latin American Studies Association, 2019

After the Spanish victories over the Inca claimed Tawantinsuyu for Charles V in the 1530s, native Andeans undertook a series of perilous trips from Peru to the royal court in Spain. Ranging from an indigenous commoner entrusted with delivering birds of prey for courtly entertainment to an Inca prince who spent his days amid titles, pensions, and other royal favors, these sojourners were both exceptional and paradigmatic. Together, they shared a conviction that the sovereign’s absolute authority would guarantee that justice would be done and service would receive its due reward. As they negotiated their claims with imperial officials, Amerindian peoples helped forge the connections that sustained the expanding Habsburg realm’s imaginary and gave the modern global age its defining character.

Andean Cosmopolitans recovers these travelers’ dramatic experiences, while simultaneously highlighting their profound influences on the making and remaking of the colonial world. While Spain’s American possessions became Spanish in many ways, the Andean travelers (in their cosmopolitan lives and journeys) also helped to shape Spain in the image and likeness of Peru. De la Puente brings remarkable insights to a narrative showing how previously unknown peoples and ideas created new power structures and institutions, as well as novel ways of being urban, Indian, elite, and subject. As indigenous people articulated and defended their own views regarding the legal and political character of the “Republic of the Indians,” they became state-builders of a special kind, cocreating the colonial order.

ISBN-13: 9781477314432

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Publication Date: 02-05-2018

Pages: 360

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

José Carlos de la Puente Luna is an associate professor of history at Texas State University. He is the author of Los curacas hechiceros de Jauja: Batallas mágicas y legales en el Perú colonial and coeditor of El quipu colonial: estudios y materiales.

What People are Saying About This

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

"De La Puente offers a fascinating study of the emergence of a new indigenous self-made elite of deracinated provincials. Through savvy uses of literacy and control of indigenous urban courts and legal resources, these urban, upwardly mobile, artisanal and mercantile former ‘commoners’ came to completely displace the Inca elites. This study breaks new ground"

John Charles

The most comprehensive examination to date of the indigenous intermediary sector of colonial Peruvian society, which used Spanish and knowledge of the Spanish legal system to advocate for personal and collective interests. One would be hard-pressed to read another book as richly documented by published scholarship and archival findings.

Karen B. Graubart

In this creative and provocative study, we learn that mid-colonial Andean elites approached the Spanish crown not only to demand personal rewards (as we have long known) but also to promote a vision of a Nación Indica, a collective identity that emerged from the juridical construct of the República de Indios. This is certainly a fresh and novel reading of the colonial period, one that will stand out among other intellectual, legal, and social histories.

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

De La Puente offers a fascinating study of the emergence of a new indigenous self-made elite of deracinated provincials. Through savvy uses of literacy and control of indigenous urban courts and legal resources, these urban, upwardly mobile, artisanal and mercantile former ‘commoners’ came to completely displace the Inca elites. This study breaks new ground

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Don Melchor Is Dead
  • 2. Khipus, Community, and the Pursuit of Justice in Sixteenth-Century Peru
  • 3. The Expanding Web: Indigenous Claimants Join the Early Modern Atlantic
  • 4. Who Speaks for the Indians? Lima, Castile, and the Rise of the Nación Índica
  • 5. At His Majesty’s Expense: Imperial Quandaries and Indigenous Visitors at Court
  • 6. What’s in a Name? Impostors, Forgeries, and the Limits of Transatlantic Advocacy
  • 7. The Great Inca Don Luis I
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index