Modern Languages: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru

Title: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru: Guamán Poma de Ayala and Primer nueva crónica y buen gobierno
Authors: Omar Granados and Rose Brougham, Department of Modern Languages, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline: Modern Languages, Spanish
Submission Date: March 1, 2014

Abstract: Spanish 321 is the first upper level cultural studies course than Spanish majors and minors take after three semesters of language courses. This class challenges students to develop analytical and critical thinking skills in the foreign language (specifically those of close reading). Until they come to SPA 321, students have been able to identify simple cultural similarities and differences between particular contexts.  However, in their first encounter with historical content in Spanish, students are unable to recognize that control and access to information, class hierarchies, language, race, religion and other social factors have influenced the historical sources we access today.

As a means of developing analytical skills regarding Spanish cultural products and the power hierarchies imbedded in their writing, we decided to focus our lesson study on a chronicle finished around 1615 by indigenous Peruvian author Guamán Poma de Ayala, tiled Primer nueva crónica y buen gobierno. In this 800-page handwritten manuscript sent to King Philip III of Spain, Ayala creates a historical account of the Andes from the earliest human beings to the Incas and the Spanish conquest; and denounces the corruption and abuses of the Spanish toward the indigenous tribes. Ayala offers both text and illustrations to make this argument. For our lesson study we focused on Ayala’s illustration to design an introductory lesson, which challenged conceptions of History writing, authorship, and at the same time, introduced the study of language as a power structure.

Modern Languages Lesson Study: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru (Full Report and Appendix)