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MSU’s Quispe-Agnoli Gets Book Award for Work on Inca Royalty

Michigan State University’s Rocío Quispe-Agnoli was awarded the Flora Tristán Book Award for the best scholarly book about Peru published in 2016 for her work, Nobles de papel: Identidades oscilantes y genealogías borrosas en los descendientes de la realeza inca (Nobles on paper: Oscillating Identities and Fading Genealogies in the Descendants of Inca Royalty). The award was given by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America.

The book, which was published by Iberoamericana Vervuert in Madrid, Spain, last December and distributed worldwide, was produced with support from the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies through the Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP).

Nobles de papel is being hailed by members of the LASA-Peru Section jury as “an innovative study that will have a significant impact in Latin American Cultural Studies and Peru’s Historiography” and “fits well in the current global political situation characterized by immigration bans and women’s claims on gender inequality.”

It examines the oscillating identities of the colonial descendants of Inca kings in the 18th-century borders of the Spanish empire by means of discursive analysis of the petitions of nobility by the Uchu Túpac Yupanqui family of Lambayeque, Perú. The unpublished manuscript of such record, classified as Mexico 2346 in Seville’s Archivo General de Indias, depicts the 12-year legal and social journey of doña María Joaquina Uchu Inca in viceregal Mexico. The interdisciplinary study of written (legal and political documents, letters) and visual iconic texts (coats of arms, portraits) reveals the history of the Uchu Túpac Yupanqui family from 1544 to 1801.

Nobles de papel has allowed me to listen to the voice of an unknown Inca woman in the legal arena of 18th-century Mexico,” Quispe-Agnoli said. “It also demonstrates that while studying our past, we should go beyond assumptions. For example, in spite of living in a male-dominated society, women from the past took action on behalf of their families, and also, the Inca people after the Spanish Conquest were not confined to Peru as it is assumed. They moved through the Americas and Europe while interacting and forging alliances with members of other nobilities such as the Aztec House of Moctezuma in Mexico.”

Professor Nelson Pereyra from the Universidad San Cristóbal de Huamanga (Peru) and Professor Anne Lambright from Trinity College, members of the LASA-Peru Sectionjury, reported that Quispe-Agnoli’s book is “remarkable for its interdisciplinary method. Nobles de papel traces the long-term claims of an indigenous family while considering a diachronic approach, addressing archival documents and heraldry to analyze coats of arms and titles of nobility (history), and studying genealogies and kinship (anthropology) by means of visual arts, gender studies, and studies on identity and otherness.”

Rocío Quispe-Agnoli has been a faculty member at MSU since 2000. She is a professor of Hispanic Studies in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies with an affiliated position in the American Indian Studies Program, as well as a core faculty member of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The post-award interview above (in Spanish) gives more insight into the author’s research journey: La historia de María Uchu Inca en Mexico (The story of María Joaquina Uchu Inca in Mexico).

  • via the College of Arts & Letters website

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