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The Future of the Andean Past

Comments prepared for the Andean Studies Section Roundtable

CLAH/AHA, San Diego, CA

7-10 January 2010

Let me preface these comments by noting some limitations. It’s not my intention here to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of Andean History at the end of this first decade of the twenty-first century. It’s also not my intention to engage any number of specific works that currently define the field.  Rather, I’d like to reflect on some issues of ethnohistorical method and the social-cultural history endeavor as a provocation for future work in the field. Additionally, I come to this as someone who works, as it were, from the margins of the traditionally conceived heartland of Andean History—I’m a historian of Quito and the north Andes who generally works on the casta plebeians of the city in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As a colonialist, I find myself on the margins of that periodization. As an Andeanist, I find myself on the margins of the heartland of Upper Peru and the Viceroyalty of Lima. And, as an Andeanist, I find myself on the margins of the area of scholarship I find most exciting- ethnohistory of the post-conquest period. And yet, that position within the scholarship gives me, I hope, an interesting perspective on the Future of the Andean Past.

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To kick things off for this year’s CLAH roundtable on the Future of the Andean Past/Futuro del Pasado Andino, we offer the first of a few polls of Andean “historians” of the Andean Past. We start with the sixteenth century, and a handful of chroniclers from the early days of the Spanish empire in the Andes. Please vote for the “historian” you think most important, and feel free to add your reasons with the comment link below.

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