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Journal > Volumes > 52 (2021) / 3 (Autumn)
Untranslatable Huacas: The Languages of Cultural Appropriation in Early Modern Spanish Chronicles in Peru (1550–1615)
Miguel Ibáñez Aristondo
Villanova University

This article examines a series of chronicles in Spanish written in the second half of the sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries by focusing on the untranslatability of the Quechua term w’aka. I explore a corpus of texts that present different interpretations of the word, which is transcribed as huaca or guaca in Spanish sources. The article examines the untranslatability of the word in the writings of Bartolom  de Las Casas, Jos  de Acosta, Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, and the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Moreover, the article provides an interpretation about how the practice of untranslatability from indigenous languages to Spanish reveals mechanisms of cultural domination. After examining how writers incorporated the term huaca into their chronicles, I argue that the untranslatability of the native word reflects specific dynamics of appropriation that writers grappled with as they negotiated the terms of Spanish cultural domination in Peru.

Pages: 629 - 646