Fellow of the Volkswagen Stiftung and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
January 2017 – October 2017
Restoring the Illegible: Unexpected Indigenous Uses of Writing in Early Colonial Peru
This project focuses on the ways in which indigenous peoples of the Andes in the long first century after the Spanish conquest of Peru (1532-1648) appropriated alphabetic writing in ways that were entirely unexpected by the colonizers. This work articulates the concept of legibility to enquire about the ways in which native Andeans conceived of writing in relation to their own various pre-Hispanic forms of inscription that continued to be used for much of the colonial period. Weaving together sources written in Spanish and Quechua, this project traces the historically constructed cultural expectations that progressively shaped asymmetric roles for native and non-native media in the colonial context.
Laura Leon-Llerena is an Assistant Professor of Colonial Latin American Literature at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from Princeton University. She has published journal articles in Spanish and English on Colonial literature, history, and translation including “Narrating Conversion: Idolatry, the Sacred, and the Ambiguities of Christian Evangelization in Colonial Peru” (Hispanic Issues). She will hold a Mellon-Volkswagen Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Dahlem Humanities Center from January to September 2017.