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20 June 2022 - 20 June 2022

5:30PM - 7:00PM


  • Free

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The medieval European mappa mundi looked back and forward in time: from the Creation of the world in Genesis to its redemption as interpreted by the Christian Gospel.

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Guaman Poma's Mappa mundi, in Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, GKS 2232 4o, The Royal Library of Denmark.

'A New World Mappa mundi'

How might a Quechua-speaking native Andean of highland South America have interpreted it around the year 1615? With a look at the intellectual and imaginative life of such an individual, Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (ca. 1535-ca. 1616), we will examine how he interpreted that tradition and set it into the framework of the modern, global era when Europe was consumed by desire for the political and commercial uses of the silver of Potosí. While Guaman Poma himself looked back to the world of the Incas, hoping to carry forward some of its remembered achievements, he also looked forward, signaling the importance of “the Indies of Peru” to the wider world of his day. All this in that era about which we were told, a half century ago, “Indians did not write books!” (But Guaman Poma did.) Thus, we’ll consider this New World Mappa mundi in two senses: the complexity of Guaman Poma’s graphic creation and the “map” of the development of indigenous studies since the early 1970s.

Rolena Adorno is the Sterling Professor Emerita of Spanish at Yale University. Her books include Colonial Latin American Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2011), De Guancane a Macondo: estudios de literatura hispanoamericana (2008), y The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (2007, 2015). Adorno is the co-author, with Roberto González Echevarría, of Breve historia de la literatura latinoamericana colonial y moderna (2017) and, with, Patrick C. Pautz, de The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca (2003) y Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez (1999). Her books have won prizes from the Modern Language Association, the American Historical Association, the Western Historical Association and the New England Council of Latin American Studies. Since 1996 she has been an Honorary Associate of the Hispanic Society of America, and since 2007 she has been an Honorary Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima. In 2015 she was honored with the “Lifetime Scholarly Achievement” award by the Modern Language Association of America. The MLA awards this honor only since every three years, and Adorno is the only recipient to date who specializes in Spanish-language literatures. Appointed by President Barack Obama, she served for ten years on the National Council on the Humanities. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She is perhaps best and longest known for her work on the seventeenth-century Andean chronicler Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, and she is the author, in English and Spanish, of monographs on that subject and an editor of print and digital editions of Guaman Poma’s opus magnum, the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (New Chronicle and Good Government). She will take us today to the Andes of South America and talk about the way Guaman Poma envisioned the “Indies of Peru” from Inca times to that of Christianizing Spanish colonization in the context of the global economic importance of the silver mines of Potosí. She will also reflect briefly on how far indigenous studies have come since the days when she was told, as a graduate student, that “Indians don’t write books”.