This volume originated with a panel titled “Indigenous Intellectuals in Mexico
and the Andes” organized by the editors at the 2009 American Historical
Association Annual Meeting and Conference on Latin American History.
Our objective was to further our understanding of political culture in Latin
America, particularly how indigenous people operated within bureaucracy,
shaped civil and ecclesiastical institutions; and in their roles, interpreted,
translated, and represented indigenous individual and collective objectives
for diverse audiences. The discussion, which focused on these figures’ ideo-
logical and practical actions, left us wanting more. The panel, which spanned
the colonial period to the present, made clear that the scholarship on indige-
nous intellectuals in contemporary Latin America is much more developed
than that of the colonial period. We also felt strongly that to analyze the role
of indigenous intellectuals in the making of colonial culture and society, we
needed to approach Mexico and the Andes, the sites of the hemisphere’s two
major pre- Columbian societies and colonial viceroyalties, from a compara-
tive perspective. Few colonial studies have compared the two regions; doing
so puts much that we take for granted in each field into strong relief.
With a comparative volume in mind, we organized a symposium at Cam-
bridge University in September 2010, and invited both veteran and up- and-
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