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Reed College history professor publishes new book on the Indian nobility in South America

David Garrett releases Shadows of Empire: The Indian Nobility of Cusco, 1750-1825.

PORTLAND, OR (December 1, 2005) – David Garrett, associate professor of history and humanities at Reed College, has released a new book entitled Shadows of Empire: The Indian Nobility of Cusco, 1750-1825 [Cambridge University Press, 2005]. Focusing on the descendants of the former Inca nobility and their relation to the Spanish government and local Indian communities of the period, Garrett's new book explores the indigenous elite's social, economic, cultural, and political positions in the Americas after the Spanish conquest.

"The people chronicled in my book comprised the top few percent of wealth and social class in their society," Garrett notes. "In writing the book, I was interested in exploring how those Incas and other indigenous elites, whom the Spanish considered legally noble, interacted with Spain and their communities."

Garrett found the research especially fascinating, in part because the topic of the relationship between the Inca nobility and the Spanish government after conquest has not been significantly studied.

"I wanted to explore the relationship of the Spanish government and the Inca nobility beyond the standard colonizer/colonized dichotomy," he says.

Beyond the Inca nobility, Garrett also focuses heavily on the internal organization and the diversity of cultures within the colonial Indian communities of the bishopric of Cusco and how the nobility and these communities interacted.

For his next book project, Garrett plans to continue his exploration of Cusco by studying the bishopric's economy in the 17th century.

"In the future, I plan to explore the conceptual spaces, the networks within the societies of Cusco," Garrett says. "My next project will explore the tensions between the social, economic, and political structures within the society and how the new colonial administration and government performed their role."

As a professor who often teaches classes on Latin American history, Garrett believes that his teaching and curriculum benefit from his research.

"Since I teach classes on Latin American history, pre-columbian civilizations, conquest, colonialism, and the golden age of Spain, working on projects like this allows me to stay in tune with the current historical debates and present interesting, relevant historical discussion to my students."

David Garrett
Garrett, a member of Reed's faculty since 1998, is an associate professor of history and humanities. He earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University, an M.A. from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Yale University. His main area of interest and research is the colonial Andes – particularly indigenous societies. He is the author of articles in the journals Revista Andina and Hispanic American Historical Review. At Reed, he teaches courses on colonial and modern Latin American history, early modern Spanish history, and Humanities 110 and 210. He has traveled extensively in the Andes, particularly in Peru and Bolivia.