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Vilcabamba, a colonial Neo-Inca state, has been widely studied through its main male figures: Manco Inca, Sayri Tupac, Titu Cusi and Tupac Amaru I. With a straightforward chronology of events from 1536 to 1572, scholars of the colonial Andes have examined Vilcabamba’s military native resistance and their clashes with the Cuzco Inka factions. The stories of indigenous women in this period and places are lesser known as primary sources give us scarce detail about their lives. Yet, genealogical accounts, Spanish, indigenous and mestizo chronicles as well as official documentation from this era allude to the presence of women from various ethnic groups in this jungle stronghold, a topic that should not be overlooked. The inclusion of these women, both Inka and non-Inka, in the traditional narratives of this native garrison is not only a much-needed revision of colonial history, but also an invitation for a renewed methodology. In this seminar, I would like to propose a methodology that combines a philological approach to reassess primary sources and ethnohistorical documentation to include indigenous women and their agency in the major events of this period. Careful attention and sensitivity to the wealth of details provided in Quechua, Aymara and Puquina terms within Spanish sources as well as an analysis of the social networks of notaries, interpreters, legal proxies, and witnesses that participated of the wars against the Inkas, yield an alternative history that genders the study of the colonial Andes. I will illustrate this methodology with the recasting of Kusi Warkay, a Vilcabamba noblewoman often perceived as a poverty-stricken widow, but who was in fact one of the last local power-players in a global early modern world.

SARA GUENGERICH is Associate Professor of Spanish at Texas Tech University. Her scholarship combines skills and methodologies from the fields of literature, history and cultural studies with a special interest in the colonial Andean region. Her publications examine the often-ignored discursive production of colonial subaltern subjects (women, Indigenous and Black people) in colonial manuscripts in the context of the Spanish conquest and colonization of Peru and its connections to the Early Modern Atlantic World. She is co-editor of Cacicas: The Indigenours Women Leaders of Spanish America, 1492-1825 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2021), and is currently writing a book tentatively titled, Daughters of the Inca Conquest: Indigenous Women Under Spanish Rule.

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