Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blogging the AHA: Mumford on Honores, "Lupakas and the Law"

More coverage from the annual meeting of the American Historical Association! The following guest post comes from Jeremy Mumford (Brown University). He attended the panel "South Andean 'Altiplano' Communities and Colonial 'Cacique' Networks, Mid-Sixteenth to Early Nineteenth Centuries."
Renzo Honores (image credit)
In his paper on the final day of the conference, “Lupakas and the Law: Interethnic Legal Dialogues in the Colonial Andes,” Renzo Honores [High Point University] added new insights to the social and political history of the law in Spanish America. His paper showed how members of the indigenous nobility (called kurakas) in the Viceroyalty of Peru pursued their interests within the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish legal system, appropriating the tools of litigation and direct written communication to the king.

In the question and answer session, an audience member challenged Honores on his use of the word “appropriation,” given that the Andean lords were playing the recognized role of provincial elites under the Castilian crown. Honores accepted the point, but noted that many Spanish officials and colonists strove to deny this role to the kurakas. His research showed that litigation among Spanish colonists was as widespread as among indigenous subjects, yet Spanish criticism of the colonial litigation explosion were focused mainly on the latter.

Honores also reported that the efforts of viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1569-84) to curtail indigenous litigation by channeling it through crown-appointed “Protectors of the Indians” actually increased litigation. And he suggested that the Andean chronicle of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (c. 1615), “El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno,” fell within the quasi-legal genre of arbitrio, a formal proposal for reform to the crown.