Domination without Dominance

Inca-Spanish Encounters in Early Colonial Peru

Domination without Dominance

Latin America Otherwise

More about this series

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 2 tables, 1 map Published: December 2008

Author: Gonzalo Lamana

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Offering an alternative narrative of the conquest of the Incas, Gonzalo Lamana both examines and shifts away from the colonial imprint that still permeates most accounts of the conquest. Lamana focuses on a key moment of transition: the years that bridged the first contact between Spanish conquistadores and Andean peoples in 1531 and the moment, around 1550, when a functioning colonial regime emerged. Using published accounts and array of archival sources, he focuses on questions of subalternization, meaning making, copying, and exotization, which proved crucial to both the Spaniards and the Incas. On the one hand, he re-inserts different epistemologies into the conquest narrative, making central to the plot often-dismissed, discrepant stories such as books that were expected to talk and year-long attacks that could only be launched under a full moon. On the other hand, he questions the dominant image of a clear distinction between Inca and Spaniard, showing instead that on the battlefield as much as in everyday arenas such as conversion, market exchanges, politics, and land tenure, the parties blurred into each other in repeated instances of mimicry.

Lamana’s redefinition of the order of things reveals that, contrary to the conquerors’ accounts, what the Spanairds achieved was a “domination without dominance.” This conclusion undermines common ideas of Spanish (and Western) superiority. It shows that casting order as a by-product of military action rests on a pervasive fallacy: the translation of military superiority into cultural superiority. In constant dialogue with critical thinking from different disciplines and traditions, Lamana illuminates how this new interpretation of the conquest of the Incas revises current understandings of Western colonialism and the emergence of still-current global configurations.


“[Domination without Dominance is] challenging, rich in detail and complex analysis, and contribute[s] to a deeper understanding of the Andean past.” — Karoline P. Cook, Ethnohistory

“[I]ndispensable reading for all scholars and students of the question of cultural encounters, the construction and deployment of the other, the struggle and constitution of different and competing epistemologies, and the setting up of the coloniality of power/knowledge. . . . [E]xtensively researched and carefully thought out . . . make[s] an enormous contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the Andean post-colonial world and the processes of subject formation that ensued from the conquest to this day.” — Sara Castro-Klarén, MLN

“[T]his book is a must-read for all serious students of early American colonial history.” — Susan Elizabeth Ramirez, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“This is an exciting read. There are a number of interesting twists and quirks as Lamana surveys the strengths and weaknesses on both sides, the practical accommodations that were made, and the troubled history of the first couple of decades of the Spanish in Peru.” — Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

“Gonzalo Lamana squares up with such bravado to the overarching colonial superstructure that has to date given form to Peruvian historiography that the cracks in its fragile edifice can be seen extending with every page the turns. Domination Without Dominance is an eloquent commentary on the confrontation between the structures of meaning imposed by the Spanish colonisers and their Incan wards between 1531 to 1550 in an encounter branded upon Western interpretation as a statement par excellence of European cultural superiority.” — Gavin O’Toole, Latin American Review of Books

“Lamana demystifies standard myths, dismisses overused terms, sites accounts from both parties, and examines simplifications . . . making his account very crucial to the discourse of Peru’s history. Yet, he does so in such a way that is also engaging and readable, with clear recognition of the many complexities and intricate narratives that come with such a multifaceted history; all this contributes to making this book appropriate for many audiences, not just those interested in the fields of South American and Anthropological studies.”
— Molly Levine, AmeriQuests

“The strongest part of the book is Lamana's fundamental rethinking of the role and relevance of Paullu Inca. If historians mention Manco Inca's successor at all, it is usually to dismiss him as a Spanish lackey. Lamana offers a dramatically different reading of Paullu Inca's place in the new colonial society, making a convincing case that the newly crowned Inca actually represented a significant challenge to the Spanish.” — Jaymie Patricia Heilman, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"This book makes a major contribution to postcolonial scholarly literature that attempts to give voices to the silent majorities of the former European global empires…. Every chapter interweaves a running dialogue between critical theory and a critical use of sources and new interpretation of events…. This serious book deserves to be read with patience and care by all scholars interested in balanced historical interpretations of any form of empire building." — Wayne Foster Anderson, Sixteenth Century Journal

Domination without Dominance is a remarkable and revealing analysis of Inca-Spanish relations in the Andes. In this work, Gonzalo Lamana unites the finest of discursive analysis with bold historical research in an argument that may fundamentally alter the way the first twenty years of Inca-Spanish relations are understood. . . . Domination without Dominance is deeply exciting and of fundamental importance to the field of colonial literary scholarship. Lamana’s work is careful, thorough, and persuasive. . . . Domination without Dominance is the kind of argument that stimulates a desire for interdisciplinary dialogue and is one of those rare works of scholarship that achieves a real depth of interdisciplinary integration.” — Kathryn J. McKnight, Colonial Latin American Historical Review

“Gonzalo Lamana boldly reinterprets the first twenty years of Spanish-Andean contact in an effort to understand how a Spanish colonial order in the former Inca Empire came into being. He does so with theoretical sophistication and through an innovative reading of standard Spanish and ex-post-facto native sources, as well as lesser known, locally produced sources. The result is a compelling recasting of the conquest of Peru that effectively dismantles the linear narrative of Spanish domination that has been standard fare since the sixteenth century.” — Yanna Yannakakis, American Historical Review

“Lamana has produced something original in this old story, something that serious scholars of colonialism must read. He successfully shows how his Andean subjects recognised ‘the arbitrariness of power’ in their day, and he engages in a compelling parallel effort to ‘unsettle’ the epistemological assumptions undergirding the history of early colonial Peru.” — Barry Robinson, Itinerario

“Lamana’s book is a ground-breaking study that will have a profound impact not only because of the substantive contribution it makes to our understanding of the first decades of the conquest but also because of the interdisciplinary methodology and theoretical model that it employs. . . Lamana’s highly compelling study will change the way researchers from all disciplines read colonial sources.” — Galen Brokaw, Hispanic Review

“This important book will fundamentally change how scholars look at proto-colonial Peru. . . . Theoretically, the book is well-informed and refreshingly anthropological for a project that so thoroughly overlaps with history and literary criticism. . . . [Lamana] has shown us how to read this notoriously opaque period of Andean history in a new and tremendously more productive way. This landmark book will be of lasting value for that contribution.” — Peter Gose, A Contracorriente

Domination without Dominance is a theoretically historical and historically theoretical argument. Through his valiant and successful effort to learn from the Incas, Gonzalo Lamana shifts the geopolitics of knowledge, stepping back and disengaging from the basic epistemic principles on which the humanities and the social sciences are founded. His detailed analysis of the first two decades of encounters between Incas and Spaniards unveils how from then to today, historical narratives managed to tell half of the story as if it were the totality.” — Walter D. Mignolo, author of The Idea of Latin America

“Far from contributing to the well-known story of European victories against overwhelming odds, this reinterpetation of the conquest of Peru portrays complex, human adversaries who each used their own cultural understandings in an effort to gain control over the other. Everyone who seeks to step outside the vision of the Spanish conquest imposed by the victors since the sixteenth century will find this study invaluable.” — Karen Spalding, author of Huarochirí: An Andean Society under Inca and Spanish Rule

“In this book—the very first ethnographic history of the so-called ‘Conquest of the Incas’—Inca and Christian protagonists negotiate not only who they are vis-à-vis one another but also, and centrally, the terms with which they would recognize their relationship. Combining literary criticism, anthropology, and history, Domination without Dominance extends the historical archive of the period to the present, and through ethnographic-textual analysis of modern historiography, shows ‘the Conquest’ as an event the conceptual politics of which linger today. This book is an important addition to archive studies, de-colonial scholarship, and cultural politics.” — Marisol de la Cadena, author of Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Gonzalo Lamana is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Situated Interventions: Colonial Imprints, Decolonial Moves 1

1. Beyond Exotization and Likeness: Alterity and the Production of Sense in a Colonial Encounter 27

2. Christian Realism and Magicality during Atahualpa's Imprisonment 65

3. Why Betting a Barrel of Preserves Can Be a Bad Thing to Do: Civilizing Deeds and Snags 97

4. Illusions of Mastery: Manco Inca's War and the Colonial Normal 125

5. The Emergence of a New Mestizo Consciousness: An Unthinkable Inca 159

6. Power as Moves: A Mid-1540s Repertoire of Flipping the Coin 193

7. "The End" 227

Basic Political Chronology of the Spanish Conquest 231

Notes 233

Glossary 249

References 251

Index 275
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4311-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4293-9
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