The role of the religious specialist in Andean cultures of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries was a complicated one, balanced between local traditions and the culture of the Spanish. In The Power of Huacas, Claudia Brosseder reconstructs the dynamic interaction between religious specialists and the colonial world that unfolded around them, considering how the discourse about religion shifted on both sides of the Spanish and Andean relationship in complex and unexpected ways. In The Power of Huacas, Brosseder examines evidence of transcultural exchange through religious history, anthropology, and cultural studies. Taking Andean religious specialists—or hechizeros (sorcerers) in colonial Spanish terminology—as a starting point, she considers the different ways in which Andeans and Spaniards thought about key cultural and religious concepts. Unlike previous studies, this important book fully outlines both sides of the colonial relationship; Brosseder uses extensive archival research in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Italy, and the United States, as well as careful analysis of archaeological and art historical objects, to present the Andean religious worldview of the period on equal footing with that of the Spanish. Throughout the colonial period, she argues, Andean religious specialists retained their own unique logic, which encompassed specific ideas about holiness, nature, sickness, and social harmony. The Power of Huacas deepens our understanding of the complexities of assimilation, showing that, within the maelstrom of transcultural exchange in the Spanish Americas, European paradigms ultimately changed more than Andean ones.
The Power of Huacas
Subjects: History, Religion, Anthropology