Chew this coca, sister
August 2, 2005 9:39 AM   Subscribe

The Guaman Poma Website. Felipe Guaman Poma's El primer nueva coronica y buen gobierno (New Chronicle and Good Government) is one of the most remarkable manuscripts of the seventeenth century. Written by a native Peruvian, in the form of a 1200-page 'letter' to King Philip III of Spain, it provides a richly detailed account of Inca society before and after the Spanish conquest. Forgotten for three centuries, it was rediscovered in 1908 in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, which has now published a full digital facsimile online. The illustrations are extraordinary: glimpses of the abuse of colonial power ('Recite the doctrine, Indian troublemaker! Right now!') alongside gentler scenes of agriculture and everyday life ('Chew this coca, sister'). Scholarly articles help to set the manuscript in context. Browse and enjoy.
posted by verstegan (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Amazing find! I love everything Inca. It's interesting to see how the two cultures were so easily integrated. Thanks so much for the new bookmark!
posted by Moral Animal at 10:09 AM on August 2, 2005

Mary Louise Pratt's often-anthologized essay "Arts of the Contact Zone," which deals at length with Gauman Poma's text, is something of a touchstone text, to the point where the phrase "contact zone" has taken on a life of its own. Pratt's perspective suggests -- and I'm likely here missing some facetiousness in Moral Animal's comment -- that the cultural integration was anything but easy.
posted by vitia at 10:27 AM on August 2, 2005

Yeah, sarcasm doesn't carry so well over the internet. I'll try harder to refrain...
posted by Moral Animal at 11:36 AM on August 2, 2005

I love the look of all this, but my stupid lack of Spanish makes it unreadable. It seems that all of the introductory material is translated, right, but not the text itself? Thanks for the link.
posted by OmieWise at 11:36 AM on August 2, 2005

Very cool!
posted by hyperizer at 1:13 PM on August 2, 2005

Fantastic post—I knew nothing about this text, and I look forward to exploring it. And vitia, thanks for that essay, which is surprisingly unhobbled by jargon, with excellent jabs like this:
Models involving games and moves are often used to describe interactions. Despite whatever conflicts or systematic social differences might be in play, it is assumed that all participants are engaged in the same game and that the game is the same for all players. Often it is. But of course it often is not, as, for example, when speakers are from different classes or cultures, or one party is exercising authority and another is submitting to it or questioning it. Last year one of my children moved to a new elementary school that had more open classrooms and more flexible curricula than the conventional school he started out in. A few days into the term, we asked him what it was like at the new school. "Well," he said, "theyre a lot nicer, and they have a lot less rules. But know why theyre nicer?" "Why?" I asked. "So youll obey all the rules they dont have," he replied. This is a very coherent analysis with considerable elegance and explanatory power, but probably not the one his teacher would have given.
I did some googling around and found an essay, "Estevanico’s Legacy: Insights into Colonial Latin American Studies from Postcolonial Africa" by Rolena Adorno, one of the main experts on Guaman Poma's text; she's working on an English translation, of which you can see a sample here.
posted by languagehat at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2005

[this is good] - thanks for sharing this great find, verstegan.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:44 PM on August 2, 2005

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