The Political Discourse of El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega as a Model for Social Transformation in Colonial Peru
This paper proposes the idea that the Peruvian mestizo historian and first American intellectual, El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616), can be characterized as a political thinker and, in order to grasp the specificity and importance of El Inca Garcilaso's contributions to political thought, his masterpiece, the Comentarios Reales (1609-1617), must be explored through both the European and indigenous Andean contexts from which it emerges. The Comentarios Reales inaugurates a dual and heterogeneous mode of colonial discourse constructed from European and indigenous resources which forwards mutliculturism and intercultural education as the key to social harmony and political reform in colonial Peru. El Inca Garcilaso uses indigenous political concepts as well as European discourse to both justify and criticize the Spanish conquest, at he same time that he initiates an insurrectionary and revolutionary discourse against the Spanish viceroyalty in the service of an independent Peruvian mestizo polity. The paper also discusses El Inca Garcilaso's recommendations for political reform, particularly how he assesses Jesuit missionary practices in order to urge his diverse Peruvian compatriots to pursue social transformation through intercultural education. The paper reconnects Inca Garcilaso to broader conflicts over the Americas by exploring John Locke's citation of El Inca's work in the Second Treatise of Government. Finally, the paper argues that the ideas present in the Comentarios are relevant to the current socio-political situation in the Andean countries and could be employed as a means of resolving many of the conflicts that have prevented development in the region.
Keywords: Literature, Colonial, Latin America, History, Latin America, Politics, El Inca Garcilaso, Discourse, Indigenous
Dr. Jonathan Steigman
Assistant Professor of Spanish, Department of Foreign Languages, United States Military Academy