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Scholars of the early modern period have made the term “culture” so essential to our lingua franca that the notable mismatch between its current meanings and the period in question often go unnoticed. The study of early modern Iberian expansion in particular is fertile ground for debating our implicit and explicit understandings of “culture.” Anthropologists long ago identified the descriptive “literature of encounter” of the Renaissance as an important antecedent to, if not the origin of, modern ethnology. Yet chroniclers in the early modern Iberian worlds did not set out specifically to portray African, Indigenous, and European groups as social totalities defined by cultural practices.

This panel asks, what frameworks of social description were actually used in the elaboration of texts in the early modern Iberian worlds? And what are scholars of these texts talking about when they talk about “culture”?


First Session: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT

Implied Geographies: Language as Culture in Viceregal Peru and Early Modern Spain
Leonardo Velloso-Lyons, Stanford University

Between Knowing & Reporting: Jesuits in Estado da India in the Sixteenth Century
Shruti Rajgopal, University College Cork

Failed Antiquity in La Florida
Nicole T. Hughes, Stanford University


- Lunch Break -


Second Session: 1:30 - 2:45 pm PDT

Collation and Persuasion: Knowledge Making in fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s Nahua Scriptorium
David H. Colmenares, Boston University

“Going Native”: On Cultural Particularity and Cultural Reductionism
Alexandra Cook, Columbia University


3:00 pm PDT

Response by Federico Navarrete Linares, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)


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Organized and hosted by Nicole T. Hughes. Contact:


Sponsored by the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures (ILAC), the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), and the Renaissances Focal Group.

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