Introduction
After military conquest and occupation, Spain introduced the Roman
Catholic festival of Corpus Christi to the Americas. An important fes-
tival in all parts of the Spanish colonies, it was especially meaning-
ful in Cuzco, Peru, the former capital of the Inka empire, which was
America's largest pre-Hispanic state, spanning the South American
Andes from Colombia to Chile (Bayle 1951,251-298). In Cuzco, Corpus
Christi, the festival that had been called "a triumph over heresy" by the
Council of Trent (1551), frequently featured indigenous Andean Chris-
tians who embodied Peru's "pagan" past in their performances. Even as
the European council encouraged all Christians-especially the newly
converted-to participate in the triumph that was Corpus Christi, the
first provincial council of Lima (1551-1552) barred Andeans from the
Eucharist except by special authorization. Thus, natives in Peru were
prohibited from partaking in that which Corpus Christi celebrated: the
body of Christ transubstantiated in the wafer of the eucharistic host. Al-
though the second and third councils of Lima (in 1567 and 1582-1584,
respectively) relaxed these restrictions, in practice natives received the
Eucharist only infrequently G. Rowe 1957, 188).1 Even as they danced,
sang, and marched in celebration of Christ's transubstantiated body,
Andeans were distanced from it.
Corpus Christi in the Andes was what I have termed
semiophagolls:
it
was a feast that dined on signs of difference, gaining sustenance for
its triumph from the Andean subaltern. While from the moment of its
instigation the ravenous festival fed on the colonized, consuming their
markers of cultural difference, Andeans themselves could not ingest
the Corpus Christi. Later, even after they were "invited" to consume
the host, they were inscribed by the Corpus Christi celebration as sub-
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