Contested territories: arenas of geographical knowledge in early colonial Peru

Heidi V. Scott

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11 Citations (SciVal)


This paper explores the Spanish construction of geographical knowledges of sixteenth and early seventeenth century Peru and, in doing so, draws attention to their diversity. It is argued here that there is a need for greater inclusiveness when studying the production of colonial geographical knowledges. An exclusive focus on official geographies of the empire can produce only a partial understanding of European perceptions of colonised territories, as the perceptions of colonisers, and their physical engagement with those territories, often bore little relation to the visions of the empire that were put together in the metropolis. First, this paper traces the construction, in Spain's Council of the Indies, of an imperial geography of America that represented the New World as a space in which European social and political hierarchies had been implanted and pre-colonial geographies consigned to history. It then considers the way in which this vision was undermined in Peru not only by the persistence of pre-Hispanic understandings of territory, but also by the actions and concerns of the colonisers themselves. In doing so, it contributes to recent endeavours to counter the metropolitan bias that is apparent in much of the work on Spanish colonial geographies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-188
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


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