Pastoral Quechua explores the story of how the Spanish priests and missionaries of the Catholic church in post-conquest Peru systematically attempted to “incarnate” Christianity in Quechua, a large family of languages and dialects spoken by the dense Andes populations once united under the Inca empire. By codifying (and imposing) a single written standard, based on a variety of Quechua spoken in the former Inca capital of Cuzco, and through their translations of devotional, catechetical, and liturgical texts for everyday use in parishes, the missionary translators were on the front lines of Spanish colonialism in the Andes.
The Christian pastoral texts in Quechua are important witnesses to colonial interactions and power relations. Durston examines the broad historical contexts of Christian writing in Quechua; the role that Andean religious images and motifs were given by the Spanish translators in creating a syncretic Christian-Andean iconography of God, Christ, and Mary; the colonial linguistic ideologies and policies in play; and the mechanisms of control of the subjugated population that can be found in the performance practices of Christian liturgy, the organization of the texts, and even in certain aspects of grammar.
“Durston combines several areas of expertise in a fluid text that allows the reader access to very complex concepts and their historical roots. The study focuses on the practice of translation, as the author states, but it is much more than that. I believe the book will find a broad readership in anthropology, history, linguistics, and religious studies.” — Thomas B. F. Cummins, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of the History of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art, Harvard University
" Pastoral Quechua is an entryway into the world of colonial Quechua culture through language, showing how Spanish missionaries did not merely translate Christianity into the Inka language, but built up new and complex syntheses of Inka and Spanish worlds. A foundational work, it opens up new and untouched ways of understanding the impact of European colonialism in the Americas, making a singular contribution to colonial history, to historical linguistics, and to the anthropology of colonialism.” — *Bruce Mannheim, University of Michigan, author of The Language of the Inka since the European Invasion *
“. . . An indispensable and original tool for those in the field of Spanish and Portuguese linguistics, colonial Latin American history, and the history of the Catholic Church. . . . Although this is a complex and scholarly work, Durston’s close examination of the unusual subject matter and his transparent writing make the work very interesting, even for the non-specialist.” — Catholic Library World
“ Pastoral Quechua is a remarkable new addition to the interdisciplinary studies of colonial Peru. Combining the fields of history and linguistics, Alan Durston’s study develops a holistic understanding of Christian translation into Quechua, the principal language family of the former Inca Empire. . . . His many discussions about the institutional struggles for colonial power through the use of the written language open new avenues of analysis for all those interested in colonial history and historical and anthropological linguistics, and for literary critics of this period.” — Colonial Latin American Historical Review
“In this careful study of Quechua pastoral texts Durston’s research is fundamental, opening up news ways of understanding how decisions about translation affected the growth and development of Christianity in South America. Pastoral Quechua is a ‘must-read’ for all scholars of the colonial Andes.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“The volume is worth the effort of even the non-specialist. Few have the skills to reach this level of analysis. Durston has made a major contribution to Andean studies with this well-written and carefully researched analysis.” — American Historical Review
“ . . . Durston has written a carefully documented history of the many ways in which Spaniards sought to study, learn, and then employ Quechua to convert the newest members of the Church’s flock. . . . Durston’s excellent study will be useful to scholars in many fields: linguistics, anthropology, theology, Quechua literature, semantics, history, sociology, and Hispanic studies.” — Renaissance Quarterly
“Durston combines knowledge of Quechua language and linguistics with a sophisticated account of the history of Christianity in the Andean world. His work is based on historical work and the actual analysis of Pastoral Quechua texts in terms of linguistics, genres, themes, and contexts. . . . Durston’s achievement, which is a major contribution, is to show us the detailed and complex inner workings of the Spanish theory of domination through Quechua translation.” — Church History
“For specialists in Andean languages, Pastoral Quechua is obligatory reading. For the nonspecialist, this is a fresh and enlightening way of looking at history. In most colonial church histories language appears as a subtopic under evangelization. In this case, language itself, and the background battles over language, become the lens through which the reader views and relives colonial Andean history.” — The Catholic Historical Review
“Durston’s book explains how pastoral Quechua developed and why it never became a universal written standard for nonpastoral uses. Some of the analyses are little masterpieces of research. . . . His analysis of Ore’s hymns and its intertexts is a marvel. His study of the ways in which Christian writers substituted Andean tropes and images for European ones is another masterpiece of analysis.” — Hispanic American Historical Review
“This densely argued study is sure to stimulate further work on the methods and materials used in indigenous conversion. Durston’s impressive work of scholarship . . . is rewarding reading for those interested in indigenous matters in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Peru.” — Sixteenth Century Journal
“Alan Durston’s work is a massive, detailed, masterful analysis of the process of establishing a single liturgy in a standardized Quechua language that, in theory, would be used throughout the region.” — The Americas
“Pastoral Quechua, with its subtle and complex analysis, is the long-awaited book that successfully charts the correlation between conquest and religious translation in Peru.” — Latin American Studies