Almost 250 years after Tupac Amaru II led an Indigenous rebellion against the Spanish occupiers of Peru, one of his descendants brought a new history of that uprising — based on a family archive and told in Quechua — to the onetime heart of the Spanish empire.
On Thursday a Ph.D. dissertation committee at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain, heard the first ever Quechuan thesis defense in Europe.
Carmen Escalante Gutiérrez, professor of Anthropology at the National University of San Antonio Abad del Cusco, presented her research based on a family archive in her native Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Incan empire.
"In Quechua, things are said with more feelings, with more depth and the words are more sad when one speaks of the death of people who fought for the independence of Peru in the colonial time," she said.
The thesis — "A Roar Raised in Arms: The Descendants of Incas and the Independence of Peru" — was approved unanimously as "outstanding" by the committee.
Despite the fact that Peru's transition from colony to independence — including the 1780 uprising led by Tupac Amaru II — has been widely studied and written about, Escalante pointed out that much of that history had overlooked key sources: family histories.
"In this work we use direct sources, constituted by original files belonging to the Tupa Guamanrimachi Family Archive, owned by our family in Cusco," she noted.
"Our research takes a new approach — that of a family history, that of the descendants of the Incas who were against Amaru and lived the difficult transition from colony to independent Peru — in order to have more information about this crucial stage in the history of Latin America," she added.