Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru (Paperback)
  • Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru (Paperback)
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Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru (Paperback)

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£21.99
Paperback 264 Pages / Published: 27/09/2010
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Writing has long been linked to power. For early modern people on both sides of the Atlantic, writing was also the province of notaries, men trained to cast other people's words in official forms and make them legally true. Thus the first thing Columbus did on American shores in October 1492 was have a notary record his claim of territorial possession. It was the written, notarial word-backed by all the power of Castilian enforcement-that first constituted Spanish American empire. Even so, the Spaniards who invaded America in 1492 were not fond of their notaries, who had a dismal reputation for falsehood and greed. Yet Spaniards could not do without these men. Contemporary scholars also rely on the vast paper trail left by notaries to make sense of the Latin American past. How then to approach the question of notarial truth?

Kathryn Burns argues that the archive itself must be historicized. Using the case of colonial Cuzco, she examines the practices that shaped document-making. Notaries were businessmen, selling clients a product that conformed to local "custom" as well as Spanish templates. Clients, for their part, were knowledgeable consumers, with strategies of their own for getting what they wanted. In this inside story of the early modern archive, Burns offers a wealth of possibilities for seeing sources in fresh perspective.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822348689
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 358 g
Dimensions: 229 x 156 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Those who read this small but wise volume will doubtless enhance both their understanding of colonial record making, and also their need to treat the documentary record with caution, always contextualizing the making of the records themselves. The author is to be congratulated for this major contribution to the analysis of colonial notarial sources, a book that will benefit all who work in archives." - David J. Robinson, Journal of Latin American Geography
"Joining her voice to those of scholars such as Ann Laura Stoler and Natalie Zemon Davis, Kathryn Burns calls on historians to treat archives as a fundamental part of research rather than simply mining the documents that lie therein. Her rich case study of colonial Peru interrogates the production of archival documents and thus has wide-ranging methodological implications for historians and archivists interested not only in colonial Latin America but also in legal history, the early modern period, and the power of writing.
Her clear and conversational writing style builds a convincing argument through visual and textual examples that show the constructed nature of truth in archival documents." - Elizabeth Shesko, Journal for the Society of North Carolina Archivists
"Kathryn Burns's elegantly written and exquisitely illustrated Into the Archive constitutes a remarkable and innovative contribution to our understanding of the making of Spanish colonialism in colonial Cusco." - Alcira Duenas, The Americas
"This eloquently written book is a must read for scholars and curators, within and without Latin American studies, on the meaning and function of colonial archives and their modern successors. It would be hard to find a more passionate argument for the vitality and profit of notarial collections and sources as subjects of historical inquiry."
- John Charles, Journal of Archival Organization
"Burns has given us a truly fascinating analysis of the dynamics involved in the creation of what comes to us as an archives. It is essential reading for any scholar who intends to engage in archival research or in research on the nature of the archives itself. . . . The book is rich in analysis, well researched, and full of possibilities." - Francis X. Blouin, Jr, American Archivist
"'Believe me, sir, it all depends on us,' brags a notary in a Francisco de Quevedo novel. 'So true,' say historians of early modernity; after all, history comes to us through these men's quills. But who are they? With an ethnographic eye, Kathryn Burns brings to life the surprisingly unpredictable human business that took place over notarial desks. Burns' fresh, rich, and ingenious investigation of notaries' power over letters adds crucially to our understanding of how Andean peoples joined the transatlantic textual community."-Frank Salomon, author of The Cord Keepers: Khipus and Cultural Life in a Peruvian Village
"Kathryn Burns leads us into the archive through a fine-grained historical ethnography of notarial practice and its social context in colonial Cuzco. Gracefully-written and engaging, yet rigorous in its use of historical materials and its social analysis, Into The Archive's reading of the colonial notarial office as a space of political and social negotiation and intrigue will transform our appreciation of these repositories and our understanding of the colonial Latin American 'lettered city.' No longer transparent, the very production of archival documents becomes a space in which colonial society is revealed."-Joanne Rappaport, author of The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes
"While historians are increasingly attentive to how actions and intentions get filtered through the voices and pens of intermediaries, or standardized by juridical and legal formulas, very few scholars have undertaken a systematic examination of these processes and their implications. Kathryn Burns has done so, and brilliantly. Her book Into the Archive will be of enormous interest to cultural and social historians of colonial Latin America, to students of Latin American history more broadly, and to many scholars outside the field of Latin American studies, particularly those engaged in research on the early modern world, legal history, and the history of archives."-Barbara Weinstein, New York University
"Burns has given us a truly fascinating analysis of the dynamics involved in the creation of what comes to us as an archives. It is essential reading for any scholar who intends to engage in archival research or in research on the nature of the archives itself. . . . The book is rich in analysis, well researched, and full of possibilities." -- Francis X. Blouin Jr * American Archivist *
"Joining her voice to those of scholars such as Ann Laura Stoler and Natalie Zemon Davis, Kathryn Burns calls on historians to treat archives as a fundamental part of research rather than simply mining the documents that lie therein. Her rich case study of colonial Peru interrogates the production of archival documents and thus has wide-ranging methodological implications for historians and archivists interested not only in colonial Latin America but also in legal history, the early modern period, and the power of writing. Her clear and conversational writing style builds a convincing argument through visual and textual examples that show the constructed nature of truth in archival documents." -- Elizabeth Shesko * Journal for the Society of North Carolina Archivists *
"This eloquently written book is a must read for scholars and curators, within and without Latin American studies, on the meaning and function of colonial archives and their modern successors. It would be hard to find a more passionate argument for the vitality and profit of notarial collections and sources as subjects of historical inquiry."
-- John Charles * Journal of Archival Organization *
"Those who read this small but wise volume will doubtless enhance both their understanding of colonial record making, and also their need to treat the documentary record with caution, always contextualizing the making of the records themselves. The author is to be congratulated for this major contribution to the analysis of colonial notarial sources, a book that will benefit all who work in archives." -- David J. Robinson * Journal of Latin American Geography *

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