Writing History to Reform the Empire: Creole Religious Historiography in Seventeenth-Century Peru

Friday, January 6, 2012: 2:50 PM
Sheraton Ballroom III (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Carlos Gálvez-Peña, Columbia University
Between the 1610’s and the 1680’s religious scholars based in Lima produced an historiographical discourse aimed at revising colonial history and advance the claims of Peruvian creole elites. Largely overlooked, the political and epistemological significance of this historical discourse needs to be reconsidered. It has to be understood as the propaganda response of the colonial corporate Church to the fiscal pressure of the Spanish Crown. Since it sought to reorient colonial ruling, this discourse needs to be understood as the colonial expression of the European discourse on Catholic statecraft as well. Using historical chronicles, hagiographies, sermons and projects with moral and political aims, religious scholars positioned the colonial Church as the axis of a revamped imperial project of the Crown of Castile. Creole religious scholars revised crucial moments of colonial history creating a narrative that fit the interests and claims of colonial elites and their quest for national identity. These works appropriated the ideas of Giovanni Botero and Justus Lipsius to create the first expression of a colonial political thought and an original expression of the early modern ars historica. The cases of Giovanni Anello Oliva (1630) Antonio de la Calancha (1638) and Diego de Córdova (1651) will be discussed as examples of creole religious historiography.