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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · October 11, 2017

Report on the 4th annual Southwest Seminar

#VastEarlyAmerica 4 min read

Today’s post is a special report from Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez of Texas State University on the Southwest Seminar, one of several conferences on #VastEarlyAmerica the OI is proud to support this year.

From October 5 to 7, 2017, the University of California – San Diego hosted the fourth annual meeting of the Southwest Seminar Consortium on Colonial Latin America. The Southwest Seminar is a collaborative effort among scholars from across the US Southwest dedicated to promoting innovative approaches to the study of Colonial Latin America. The seminar’s annual meetings are conceived as a venue to exchange ideas and encourage collegiality and conviviality among specialists of varied backgrounds and with diverse research interests. This year’s meeting, Beyond the Conquest—New Approaches to the Ethnohistory of Colonial Latin America, brought together more than thirty scholars. Seminar participants, ranging from full professors to doctoral candidates, came from five countries: the US, Peru, Colombia, Spain, and Mexico.

Sessions began on Thursday, October 5 with a public round table titledHow Do We Commemorate First Contacts in the Americas? From Indigenous Peoples to Columbus and Cabrillo.” Eleven sessions followed over the next two days, each focusing on a pre-circulated article-length work-in-progress. The materials chosen by the committee included dissertation chapters, journal articles, and book sections and the papers covered a wide geographic and chronological span, from the Louisiana-Texas borderlands in the north, to the Río de la Plata Basin in the south, and from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Authors at different stages of their careers received constructive, cogent feedback from an interdisciplinary array of participants that included social historians, cultural historians, ethnohistorians, anthropologists, literary scholars, and art historians, representing over twenty institutions of higher education.

Some of the most recurrent discussions in this year’s meeting revolved around native agency, cultural transmission and translation, and the indigenous legacy to Western knowledge. These and other themes were the object of lively, thought-provoking conversations and a fruitful exchange of ideas that will surely help the authors refine their essays. UCSD Professor Emeritus Eric Van Young, who served as general discussant, was responsible for wrapping up the event with his final reflections on the different papers under discussion.

The Southwest Seminar is supported by the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, Northern Arizona University, Texas Christian University, Texas State University, University of Arizona, University of California-San Diego, University of Texas-El Paso, and Utah Valley University. Additional information on the Southwest Seminar can be found at

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