Colonial Indigenous Writing: The Complexity of Representing the Colonial Encounter

The authors mentioned above are not the only native writers of their time – there are also Juan de Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua, Diego de Castro Titu Cusi Yupanqui and the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz 1996 Colonial Andean literature) – but they are the only works which are written in Quechua (Huarochirí) or include longer texts in the language (Guaman Poma). Both books reflect the multi-layered reality of a colonial state and its power struggles, but moreover, the fact that they use the Amerindian language contributes to how their writing can be interpreted. They are instances of colonial resistance and subversion, but through their discourse, how they create and construct it, they offer a multiple reading, i.e. their message is not unequivocal and clearly understandable in a certain way, but rather it makes it possible and necessary to interpret it in the form a ‘double entendre’: the understandings are multiple; and depending on the background of the reader, the narratives are about conversion, inversion or subversion. The forms they choose have much in common because they use embedding and intertextuality to render the reading and understanding a complex enterprise. They are pioneering not only as a genre of indigenous colonial writing, but because they also break new ground in the literature of the Hispanic world as a whole. This is only possible because the authors can recur to native and Spanish traditions, and rather than producing a combined image, they manage to create new forms. This enables them to lay down a highly sophisticated presentation of the new power structures, with their effect on the indigenous people(s) and a multiplicity of potential understandings by different addressees.

My study combines the analysis of the Quechua discourses of the missionaries and indigenous authors until 1615 (Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz 2013 Entrelazando dos mundos).