Writing the New World
WRITING THE NEW WORLD r f rn Mauro Jos Caraccioli Gainesville
is book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem)â€”a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Librariesâ€”and the generous support of Virginia Tech. Learn more at the TOME website, available at openmonographs.org. Copyright rf by Mauro Jos Caracciolie text of this book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives .r International License (CC BY-NC-ND .r): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/.r/. To use this book, or parts of this book, in any way not covered by the license, please contact University of Florida Press at our website at http://upress.un.edu. Pu b lished in the United States of America t b f t b f ISBN -f-tr-ft-f (cloth) ISBN -f-tr-fr(paper) ISBN -f-tr-fb(ePDF) ISBN -f-tr-f(OA ePDF) ISBN -f-tr-f-t (ePUB) DOI: fr.b/ftrf Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publications Data Names: Caraccioli, Mauro Jos Ã¾e , au thor. Title: Writing the new world : the politics of natural history in the early Ã¾ Sp anish Empire / Mauro Jos Caraccioli. Description: Gainesville : University of Florida Press, rf. | Includes Ã¾ bi bliographical references and index. Identiers: LCCN rrrt (print) | LCCN rrrt (ebook) | ISBN Ã¾ ftrftf (hardback) | ISBN ftrfb (pdf) Subjects: LCSH: Natural historyâ€”Political aspectsâ€”Latin America. | Ã¾ Po litical scienceâ€”Latin America. | Philosophyâ€”Latin America. | Latin Americaâ€”History. Classication: LCC QHfrt.b .C rf (print) | LCC QHfrt.b (ebook) | DDC br.â€”dc LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/rrrt LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/rrrt University of Florida Press rt NE Waldo Road Suite frr Gainesville, FL tr http://upress.un.edu
For Vanessa, my greatest teacher And for Celeste and Gustav, everyday joys of wonder
Man, in sum, the greatest marvel posed to human comprehension, a synthesis composed of qualities of angel, plant, and beast whose elevated baseness shows traits of each of these. And why? Perhaps more blessed than other forms it was designed that Man, through loving Union, should join with the Divine. A favor never fully fathomed, and, were we to judge by how it is reciprocated, insuciently appreciated! â€”Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz, First I Dream
Ã¾ List of Illustrations xi Ã¾ Ac knowledgments xiii Ã¾ Op ening: Of Nature and Other Demons f Ã¾ f. Ã¾ Na rratives of Conquest and the Conquest of Narrative f Ã¾ . Ã¾ Ov iedo, Las Casas, and the Dierence at Made Nature Ã¾ . Ã¾ e A nthropolitics of Bernardino de Sahagn t Ã¾ . Ã¾ e I mperial Renaissance of Francisco Hernndez Ã¾ b. Ã¾ Jos de Acosta and the Ends of Empire fr Ã¾ Ep ilogue: Toward a Natural History of Colonial Domination ft Ã¾ No tes f Ã¾ Bi bliography ff Ã¾ In dex f
Figures Ã¾ f. Ã¾ Iguana, Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo bf Ã¾ . Ã¾ â€œ e Ahuizotl,â€ Bernardino de Sahagn t Ã¾ . Ã¾ â€œ e Bird of the Heart,â€ Bernardino de Sahagn Ã¾ . Ã¾ An onymous drawing of Francisco Hernndez Ã¾ b. Ã¾ Ri vea corymbosa , Francisco Hernndez t Ã¾ t. Ã¾ Fr ontispiece, Jos de Acosta fff Ã¾ . Ã¾ In dian miners at Potos, Teodoro de Bry fbTable Ã¾ f. Ã¾ Constitutive narratives of natural history
rBooks, like an education, are never entirely our own doing. My own selfdiscovery while writing this work has put me in contact with dozens of people who have supported, encouraged, counseled, and pushed back to make the ideas and stories therein come alive. All its limitations are entirely my own fault. Ã¾ is p roject began at the University of Florida, where Leslie Paul iele helped steer the early stages of my research with care and camaraderie. My own thinking about the potential for judgment that a changing natural world demands would not have been possible without his probing, thoughtful guid ance. e driving questions of this book were born in ery discussions with D a n Oâ€™Neill. Danâ€™s generosity of intellect and humor convinced me that I be longed in Political eory, not to mention modeled for me a way to ma ke f riends in academia. Aida Hozic was, and remains, a champion of the mantra that clear conviction makes for clear writing. I would not have arrived at either of those without her incisive honesty. Ido Oren shepherded the historical and personal scope of this work as a master of his cra. He was also careful to re mind me how important the life of the mind is in trying times. Lastly, much of w h at this book tackles would not have been possible without the encyclopedic knowledge of Ida Altman, who always made time to think together. Ã¾ At t he University of Florida, my teachers, colleagues, union comrades, and students drove me to tell my story without fear. Larry Dodd was a true champion of my intellectual and personal growth, single-handedly pushing me to the limits of my own capacity for wonder. Badredine Ar, Eric Keys, Ben Smith, Laura Sjoberg, Dietmar Schirmer, Leann Brown, and Sophia Acord were all marvelous interlocutors, particularly in those times I doubted who and what this project was for. e Political eory maa at UF heard more versions of this account than I am willing to admit, but they did so with selness
candor: Lorna Bracewell, Alec Dinnin, Evgenia Ilieva, Jon Masin-Peters, Manu Samnotra, and Seaton Tarrant were true fellow travelers and exemplary of the dierence community makes. Ã¾ e Department of Political Science during those years was a timely social experiment. Reading groups, workshops, membership drives, movie nights, and student life would not have been nearly as enjoyable without the following colleagues and friends: Oumar Ba, Kevin Baron, Lina Benabdallah, Mamadou Bodian, Dave Bradshaw, Li-Li Chen, Ross Cotton, Rolda Darlington, Amanda Edgell, Dan Eizenga, Kevin Funk, Adi Mamo, Chesney McComber, Koki Men dis, Lia Merivaki, Macarena Moraga, Anna Mwaba, Victor Olivieri, Buket Oz tas, Sebastian Sclofsky, C. G. Shields, Dragana Svraka, Saskia van Wees, Anna W ei smann, and most especially Jon and Isabella Whooley for their endless generosityâ€”with love, always. Ã¾ is b ook was initially more about the science of imperialism than about the relation between faith, nature, and empire. I was able to pursue archival research at the John Carter Brown Library thanks to a generous Research & Travel Grant from the UF Department of Political Science. At the JCB, the original projectâ€™s limitations quickly became evident thanks to the charitable curiosity of Ken Ward. During my time in Providence, Ben Reed was a true friend in an environment I wasnâ€™t sure how to navigate. Alexis Ettner provided a home and warm memories. Bob Cook and Meghan Kallman shared with me their meals and roof on the edge of Pawtucket. Adam and Esther Ryland Keul witnessed with me the most beautiful (and only) moonrise Iâ€™ve ever experi enced. Robert Samuels helped make a layover in the Imperial Capital fun and r e stful. Ã¾ Acr oss several years, three cities, and two children, many more friends and colleagues accompanied this bookâ€™s evolution. At Saint Michaelâ€™s College in Vermont, Herb Kessler was the rst to invite me to share the full scope of my work with the faculty. Bob Brenneman and Gabriela Ochoa hosted many eve nings and helped me think through so many questions with care. In the Politi cal Science Department, Michael Bosia, Je Ayres, Shefali Misra, Bill Grover, J o hn Hughes, and Trish Siplon welcomed me into their pedagogically rebel lious oasis. Valentina Rojas, Crystal Lâ€™Hote, Steven Obranovich, Farrah Fatemi, A l lison and Kevin Jerram, and Bret Findley gave me friendship and solidarity like few others. Ã¾ At V irginia Tech, my work is better today thanks to the tireless mentoring of Franois Debrix and thoughtful friendship of Cara Daggett, Danna Agmon, and Matthew Gabriele. Among my amazing friends, colleagues, and students, I xiv Acknowledgments
would also like to thank: Tim Luke, Edward Weisband, Yannis Stivachtis, Karen Hult, Luke Plotica, Charles Taylor, Ilja Luciak, Nick Copeland, Rebecca Hes ter, Rachel Gabriele, Melanie Kiechle, Priya Dixit, Andy Scerri, Besnik Pula, W a yne Moore, Scott Nelson, Caitlin Jewitt, Sylvester Johnson, Clair Apodaca, Paul Avey, Karin Kitchens, Nick Goedert, Aaron Brantly, Binio Binev, and Eric Jardine for all their encouragement. In the closing months of nishing this book, Desire Poets, Bikrum Gill, Audrey Reeves, Edward Polanco, Gonzalo Montero, Patrick Ridge, and Javiera Jaque joined our outlaw mountain haven with an unbridled commitment to strengthening its fellowship. I am a better scholar for having them in my life. Lastly, my ASPECT comrades-in-arms (past and present) and students have also been key to my evolution: Jenn Lawrence, Rohan Kalyan, Bettina Koch, Brett Shadle, Rachel Scott, Leigh McKagen, Alex Stubbereld, Ezgi Seref, Rob Hodges, Jay Burkette, and Kate Morton all saw in my story something that took me a bit longer to articulate. It was through their eyes that the scope of my endeavors became fully visible. Ã¾ Mos t of the chapters in this book were rst discussed over long conversa tions with friends and colleagues across the world. Many thanks are owed to: D a n Green, Michael Nordquist, Brent Steele, Jon Carlson, Harry Gould, Ella Street, Jack Amoureux, Alex Barder, Stefanie Fishel, Einar Wigen, Julia Costa Lpez, Halvard Leira, Benjamin de Carvalho, Ty Solomon, Bob Vitalis, Pat rick Jackson, Mark Shirk, Jeppe Mulich, Morton Anderson, Xavier Guillaume, S wa ti Srivastava, Manuela Picq, Patchen Markell, Jeanne Moreeld, Michelle Schwarze, Michael Goodhart, Nina Hagel, Briana McGinnis, Nev Koker, Bren don Westler, Anatoli Ignatov, Josh Simon, Ins Valdez, and many others for t h eir impressions, friendship, and support. Ã¾ e r st revisions of the book beneted greatly from a Faculty Mentoring Grant sponsored by the Oce of the Provost at Virginia Tech. Special thanks goes to the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah and the Francis D. Wormouth Chair for hosting me during a book manuscript work shop in November rf. Brent J. Steele has been a steadfast champion of my w o rk and his generosity over the years has contributed greatly to making my ideas sharper and clearer. Steven Johnston pushed me to speak from the cour age of my convictions like only he can. Ella Myers read the original manuscript w i th razor-sharp care and an eye toward its broader audience. Christopher Jen sen urged me to bring back the epic dimensions of this period, for one should n e ver let the old stories die. Karolyn Campbell combed each page of the manu script with an eagle eye. And lastly, Mark Button oered the greatest compli ment and challenge this project has garneredâ€”as only a true friend could.xv Acknowledgments
Ã¾ A version of chapter previously appeared as â€œA Problem From Hell: Natura l History, Empire, and the Devil in the New World,â€ in Contemporary Po l iti cal eory , V ol. f, No. (November rf), pp. â€“b. Portions of chapter b previously appeared as â€œe Learned Man of Good Judgment: Nature, Narra tive and Wonder in Jos de Acostaâ€™s Natural Philosophy,â€ in History of Po l itical ought , Vol. , No. f (January rf), pp. â€“t. My thanks to the editors of these journals for their permission to republish this material. e images in this book (and the cover) appear courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University and the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. Ã¾ At t he University of Florida Press, Stephanye Hunter has been a phenom enal editor. Not only did she believe in this project from the start, but her unfa i ling support throughout the process reassured me that Florida was the right home for it. Mary Puckett, Valerie Melina, Rachel Doll, and Deirdre Rufno were nawless and patient in overseeing the production process. Feedback f r om three anonymous reviewers also made the manuscript a more holistic intervention. Open Access publication of this book was made possible through a generous grant from the â€œToward an Open Monograph Ecosystemâ€ (TOME) initiative led by Peter Potter at Virginia Tech. Ã¾ My fa mily has had to listen to me talk about Spain, missionaries, nature writing, and especially academic politics more than anyone should ever have to. ey are the motivation that keeps me coming back to the New World and to the stories we tell about ourselves. To my mom and dad, Amanda Aguilar Velasquez and Mauro Hiplito Caraccioli Henderson, who stimulated my love of ideas, in spite of their impracticality, los amo . To my extended and adoptive family: Aida, Mauro, Elisabeth, Mauro Alberto, Mauricio, Gennieve, Mendy, Ivonne, Begoe, Carolina, and Camilaâ€”for all the life-changing journeys through joy and tears, gracias totales. And the lionâ€™s share of gratitude is for my love, friend, and life-partner, Vanessa Diaz, who has been by my side through it all. We navigated life as immigrants, students, professors, and nowâ€”our best jobâ€”parents, and I can always count on being in this together with her. I dedi cate this work to you and our children, Celeste and Gustav, who, when I am w i th them, remind me of what truly mattersâ€”in natura veritas. I love you.xvi Acknowledgments
fOf Nature and Other DemonsAnd so, once idolatry was rooted out of the best and noblest part of the world, the devil retired to the most remote places and reigned in that other part of the world, which, although it is very inferior in nobility, is not so in size and breadth.Jos de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies In fb, the Jesuit father Jos de Acosta arrived at the port city of Lima in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Tasked with traveling inland to meet the viceroy Francisco lvarez de Toledoâ€”who was on a tour of the colony aer the suppression of the Tupac Amaru uprising a few months earlierâ€”Acosta and about a dozen fellow Jesuits crossed the province of Huarochir, making their way through the Pariacaca mountain range to the east of Lima. Reaching upward of ,rrr feet in altitude, Acosta wrote how, â€œaer all my preparations, when I climbed the Staircases, as they are called, the highest part of the range, almost in an instant I felt such mortal anguish that I thought I would have to throw myself o the mount onto the ground.â€ He would go on to describe in excruciating detail how for almost ,rrr miles he and his companions suered from the eects of common altitude sickness. Despite levels of anguish that seemed to push their bodies to the brink of death, the small cadre of travelers would soon feel normal, leading Acosta to conclude that: â€œthe illness of the Indies of which I speak . . . stirs up the inner organs, and, what is even more remark able, it happens even when there is pleasant sunshine and warmth in the same s p ot . . . that the harm is due to the quality of air that a person breathes, because it is very keen and sharp, and its cold is not so much perceptible by the senses
as it is penetrating.â€ Much the same can be said about the rest of his time in the Americas. Ã¾ Al though he was there to aid in the establishment of new Jesuit colleges, what Acosta encountered in Peru was a world the likes of which no other Euro pean chronicler or armchair philosopher had ever before seen. e experience wa s o f such transformative power that the resulting book, his magnum opus the Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias , bolstered Acostaâ€™s prestige across the Spanish Empire as a learned man and commentator of the New World. Yet despite a notable background in humanist philosophy, Acostaâ€™s observations were permeated by a fear of the demonic that cast a shadow over all his empiri cal judgments. Indeed, much of what he notes about Peruâ€™s Indian inhabitants i s co ncerned with deciphering how the Devil himself, â€œretired to the most re mote places . . . in that other part of the world,â€ so ably captured the devotion o f in digenous peoples, â€œ[subjecting] them to things of no importance, many of which were very vile.â€ Ã¾ To that end there are many devils in this book. Chief among them is the c hallenge posed to political theorists to take seriously the intellectual contribu tions of early modern Spanish and Spanish American thinkers in their eorts t o m ake sense of nature and other demons at the dawn of modernity. More the result of omission than commission, misleading narratives about Latin Amer ica produced by members of the early modern canon still retain a hold over t h e ways political concepts, debates, and exemplary names of the sixteenth century are dened. As someone highly indebted to that same corpus, I have written this book to broaden its horizons and rethink its political contours. Like countless postcolonial thinkers, I endeavor here to convey how historical domination is not only composed of epic conquests, but is also reproduced (even if inadvertently) via scholarly work. Specically, the kind of inquiries I document here lie at the very heart of debates between the empirical and theo retical foundations of early modern political thought. at they happened at t h e other side of the known world, at a time when Europeans were only begin ning to contemplate the existence of literally unknown utopian spaces, is a key p a rt of the story. Ã¾ Usin g Spainâ€™s politics of natural history in the New World as my central object of analysis, this book argues that the study of nature in the New World was about the cultivation of wonder, more so than merely extractive, utilitarian interests. My aim is to show how the natural historical writings of chroniclers, explorers, and, most notably, missionaries helped to lay out a distinct set of empirical foundations for modern political thought, as these developed in the
New World. Natural history, I maintain, was a contentious eld of narrative inquiry, and should be read today as a distinct genre of early modern political thinking. Ã¾ e q uestion of genre in the history of political thought has served to es tablish important boundaries around what political theorists do in their cra. A s J ames Farr remarks, genre oen serves as â€œan ideal-type, admitting of ex ceptions and dierences,â€ that helps narrate the history of ideas as a lineup: â€œ a lin ked chain of innuence and attention . . . bound together as a tradition, engaged in a great dialogue, each later thinker speaking to or about each previ ous one.â€ To think of natural history as a genre of political thought, then, is to present for political philosophers the interfaces between politics, science, and faith as they developed in the early Spanish Empire. Natural history here serves as a vital link in demonstrating the empirical texture of moral wonder across the sixteenth century, both in the Americas and Europe. Ã¾ Al though the many implications of the European encounter with America have been increasingly documented, missing still is a closer look at how the natural environments of the New World fed into the broader intellectual trans formations taking place across Spanish America. ough these objectives are n o t unwelcome within the eld of Political eory, there remains some reluc tance to rethink the established lineup. e reasons for this, in my view, are sociological and ideological. For one, the academic division of labor under which t o dayâ€™s political theorists are trained has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Indeed, the cultures I take up in this text have garnered greater at tention in recent years, particularly as the notions of rationalism, rights, and s e cularity that todayâ€™s political theorists predominantly wrestle with were only being sown in the Old World at the time of its encounter with the New. Ã¾ e clear-eyed condence articulated by Francis Bacon, omas Hobbes, and John Locke, among others, was allegedly still a few centuries behind in the Americas, where the natural and supernatural coexisted (and arguably still do) along multiple registers. And while the contemporary makeup of interdisci plinary scholarship has made it easier to take up a project that bridges litera tures in Colonial Spanish American history, religious studies, and the history o f s cience, with the developing program of the political theory of empire, the innuence of a Great Books tradition remains strong. Is this work really po litical theory? Or is it Latin American Studies? e verdicts seem everywhere a n d nowhere, particularly as the burden of proof lies in demonstrating that political thinking on the margins of the European metropole can and does take place, positioned such as it is against an established canon. My point is not to
complain (or obfuscate), but rather situate the present text and the challenges raised therein. Vital for me is the question of whether the historical study of political theory can accommodate a broader conception of modernity than what it currently espouses. And if it cannot, at what cost? Ã¾ Ide ologically, there is a more salient issue to unpack. As Quentin Skinner long ago warned, â€œIf we want a history of philosophy written in a genuinely historical spirit, we need to make it one of our principal tasks to situate the texts we study within such intellectual contexts as enable us to make sense of what their authors were doing in writing them.â€ To tell the story of the revival of natural history during Imperial Spainâ€™s conquest of the New World therefore requires some attention to who its most notable practitioners were. As they happened to be primarily men of the cloth, additional diculties emerge given their analytic vocabularies and evangelizing motives. More akin to eccentrics than savants, these chroniclers, missionaries, and scien tists nonetheless oen risked life, limb, and reputation to defend an emerging s t yle of inquiry that was ethnographic and empirical in scope, as much as it was exegetical and demonological in character. Indeed, making sense of their politics demands reconciling how natural landscapes and indigenous people alike possessed unnatural powers and yet were also coveted as subjects of a distant crown. Ã¾ To think with demons, then, rather than against them, can say much about t he way in which the most notable and dynamic explorers of the New World wrestled with their various intellectual commitments. As Stuart Clark has ar gued, belief in the workings of demons, witches, and other occult, unnatural c h aracters was an essential ingredient of modern intellectual history for nearly rr years. â€œIn eect,â€ he writes, â€œdemonology was a composite subject con sisting of discussions about the workings of nature, the processes of history, t h e maintenance of religious purity, and the nature of political authority and order. Inevitably, its authors took up particular intellectual positions in rela tion to these four major topics of early modern thought. Quite simply, their v ie ws . . . depended on concepts and arguments drawn from the scientic, his torical, religious, and political debates of their time.â€ Moreover, accounting for the demonological discourses operating in the New World also addresses the reluctance to think of works by Spanish naturalists as canonical to the history of ideas. Ã¾ As t hese thinkers developed a vocabulary to speak about what they saw, both among themselves and among various audiences, so, too, did the con cept of New World nature emerge. ough the Americas have always held
b a special place in the modern imagination, much of the fantastic world that was rst shared with eager audiences on the European continent remains alien to many of us today. What did early travelers nd that lay beyond their dreams? How were these fantasies shared as desirable realities? What did imperial ambition rst look like in the face of great moral and environmental challenges? Ã¾ My approach in this book is to address that interplay between empire, fa ith, and the experience of New World environments, illustrating how dif ferent conceptions of nature shaped Imperial Spainâ€™s early eorts to cultivate a N e w World civilization. To do so, I focus on works attending to the dis tinctive ecological character of the Americas, lending greater attention to h o w early naturalist writings shaped the intellectual context of Spainâ€™s New World Empire, particularly its millenarian ethos. By extension, I also dem onstrate how spiritual wonder played a central role in making sense of the N e w Worldâ€™s exotic landscapes and peoples. Tracing the innuence of religious conviction on the study of natural history in the New World, my aim is to broaden the evidentiary basis for rooting the Scientic Revolution in mat ters of faith as much as politics. Moving through two themes only cursorily en ga ged in by political theoristsâ€”the history of conquest narratives and mis sionary nature writingâ€”I seek to unravel a long-denounced, but tenacious, hi s toriographical prejudice that portrays the Spanish Empire as a largely marginal feature of modernity. Ã¾ While political theorists such as Diego von Vacano and Juliet Hooker have r ecently sought to engage accounts of the early Spanish Conquest of the New World in innovative ways, their analyses border on oering a one-dimensional portrait of Spanish dominationâ€™s role in the formation of racial hierarchy and exclusion. Alternatively, scholars in Imperial Studies, such as Orlando Ben tancor and James Fuerst, have turned their attention toward more eclectic explorations of the continuities and ruptures between Spanish metropole think ers and colonial practices. By their accounts, agents of Imperial Spain are problematic gures, but they are also intimately wrapped up in the creation of something distinctly new. Hence if political theorists are to gain greater insight into the logics of domination that inform early modern vocabularies, they need a more nuanced glimpse of the imperial imagination and its intel lectual formation. Ã¾ In light of these historiographical advances, this is the rst work of politi cal theory that accounts for New World exploration and evangelization as a d u al science of domination. Rather than portraying imperialism as a project
t forged from abroad, I oer instead a more complex genesis of the imperial ide als proered by the study of nature within the Americas. Ã¾ Na tural historyâ€™s deployment led to enduring literary motifs in the represen tation of New World nature, as well as contentious depictions of a future colo nial society. e case of Spanish natural history is thus a critical juncture in the r e lationship between science and empire: driven by religious wonder, scientic inquiry thrived; yet as the empire grew unwieldy, the normative aspirations of naturalist thought were subsumed to instrumentalist economic growth. Span ish experiences of nature in the early modern period helped shape spiritual v i sions of the natural world, oered an adaptive discourse for empire, and called for a new map on which the future of civilization could be written. is vital period remains today a disputed space from which to convey the imperial politics of science, particularly as contemporary forms of environmental ethics rediscover indigenous ways of relating to nature that reject romanticism and capitalist cooptation. Ã¾ No doubt the history of Spainâ€™s â€œnatural encounterâ€ holds valuable lessons f or theorists, historians, geographers, and conservationists of nature alike. In deed, the conditions under which Imperial Spainâ€™s power evolved generated lo n g-enduring themes within Enlightenment thought. Of particular salience was the proposition that humans could reconnect with their natural selves, if only they looked to the indigenous past. Today, as greater environmental challenges emerge from the unintended consequences of anthropogenic cli mate change, a curious revival of that past is developing in popular culture. At s t ake in media and political narratives alike is a radical, and almost paradoxi cal, ultimatum for the future of civilization: climate salvation, or a slow decline in t o self-induced extinction. Ã¾ Similarly caught between the extremes of global deliverance or destruction, t he story of Imperial Spainâ€™s rst century in the New World highlights the moral complexity of domination in the face of cultural and ecological incommensu rability. While reliving these early moments may not solve the ongoing climate cr i sis, the natural histories I engage can give theorists of nature and the public alike a renewed sense of the dierent ways of thinking that made nature into a source of contemplation. More than this, it is my contention that the urgent times we currently inhabit are in need of stories that serve as springboards both to action and renection. Long ago, natural history helped launch a cultural wave of discovery and invention, albeit one that was analogous to conquest. ough I do not know the extent to which our present crisis remains linked to those stories, this book shows how their restoration is a timely eort.
Why Natural History?e last decade has found political theorists profoundly interested in the his tory of empire again. In a recent review of the eld, Jennifer Pitts argues that em p ire is a pivotal focal point in the genealogy of modern political theory, particularly in tracing the extent to which liberalism has developed alongside British, French, and American imperial legacies. Drawing upon several areas of scholarly salience (for example, the history of political thought, postcolo nialism, globalization studies, and international law), Pitts exhorts political t h eorists to engage with the imperial projects linked to contemporary ills and connicts, specically pointing to â€œthe substantial responsibility on the part of the great powers for conditions such as extreme poverty, ecological crisis, civil connict, and tyranny around the world.â€ Ã¾ Yet despite sustained attention to the economic, military, and legal dynam ics o f imperialism, Pitts neglects to oer a resounding example of historical w o rks engaging the relation between empire and ecology. e closest reference is to Anthony Pagdenâ€™s classic work, e Fall of Natural Man , a text more inter ested in the impact of New World anthropologies in European legal thought t h an on the uses of imperial nature. Reduced to a backdrop for resource extrac tion, then, Pittsâ€™ account suggests that nature was merely an ancillary concern o f em pires, second to the larger objectives of territorial sovereignty. While pro viding an otherwise trailblazing review on the current state of the eld, Pittsâ€™ acco un t also acknowledges how important early debates across the Spanish Empire were over the legitimacy of their rule in the Americas. Much of those debates occurred in Spain, however, and said very little about the New World as autochthonous legal spaces with their own voices. Ã¾ Indeed, even the scholarly treatment of settler colonial logics in the Global S outh takes more of an interest in matters of legal ownership than what exactly is to be owned. Upon further investigation, it becomes evident that the existing literature on the political theory of empire largely neglects the European en co unter with nature as a formative experience, bounded almost overwhelm ingly by a fascination with liberalism. Ã¾ As recent anthologies of the subeld have unequivocally shown, political t heoryâ€™s presentâ€”and arguably its futureâ€”is imbricated within the logic of global liberalism. In their introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Political eory (rrt), John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips assert the trou bling claim: â€œLiberalism has demonstrated an almost unprecedented capacity f o r absorbing its competitors, aided by the collapse of its rival, Marxism, but
also by its own virtuosity in reinventing itself and incorporating key elements from opposing traditions.â€ While seemingly omniscient, the editors of the Oxford Handbook also oer a warning: liberalismâ€™s ability to absorb its chal lenges is paralleled by â€œincreasing anxiety about the way Western liberalism il legitimately centers itself,â€ with even prominent liberals ready to â€œacknowledge t h at there are signicant traditions of thought beyond those that helped form Western liberalism.â€ Arguably, the contemporary turn toward empire can be read as symptomatic of this intellectual anxiety. Ã¾ What role then, if any, does nature have in the turn to empire? More point e dly, where does natural history itself t in the history of political thought? F r om ucydides to Nietzsche, the meanings that men (and women) have made of their natural environments over time have been central to theories of politics. ose conceptions are in turn vital to the kinds of imaginaries that peoplesâ€”and empiresâ€”deploy to fulll their own aspirations. Equally impor tant, however, is how might someone elseâ€™s environments, for instance, change t h ose ambitions? While previous scholars have attempted to account for what was once termed the â€œimpactâ€ of the New World on the Old, few of their ar guments had at their disposal the interdisciplinary registers available today. Although a wide scope of inquiries around the concrete matter of nature can be found across modernity, it is the collective experiences of nature in the New World that are vital to the political transformations of the Old World. Ã¾ I do not pretend to address all of the mechanisms at work in the intel le ctual struggle with the wonder and incommensurability of nature in the A m ericas. In my view, however, many of modern political thoughtâ€™s assumptions about nature and society stem from the early representations of na ture in the New World that emerged in the wake of the Spanish Conquests. S p aniards turned to natural history as part of a larger attempt to formalize the experience of wonder and oer typologies for the seeming incommen surability informing their earliest encounters. While visions of nature in the A m ericas were part of larger shis in European migration and exploration, the distinct views of nature, wonder, and empirical inquiry held by Spanish naturalists possessed radical implications for modern science and political theory. at missionary orders were among the rst to pursue the revival of natural history, adapting their biblical vocabulary to new times, adds an important interpretive horizon. Ã¾ is, then, is a story about faith, as much as it is about nature in the rst cen tury of Spainâ€™s New World Empire. It aims at nothing less than providing the theoretical scaolding to study this interplay of forces in light of a greater
historiographical debate within the human sciences, what Jorge CaizaresEsguerra calls: writing the history of the New World. Ã¾ In comparing the eorts of Spanish chroniclers, explorers, and missionaries t o make sense of New World nature, I demonstrate that the natural histories they forged as part of their various eorts exerted a decisive innuence on the intel lectual climate of Spain, its colonies, and Europe. ey also produced connicts o f in terest between the Spanish Crown and its colonial representatives. As a his torian of political thought, this juxtaposition helps me theorize Spainâ€™s Empire in m o re varied ways, jettisoning the notion that Spanish rule operated singularly across distinct territories. Going further, my analysis will also substantiate the eects of New World nature on dierent Spanish imperial imaginaries. Ã¾ By s howing that scientic activity in the New World was linked with a spiritual wonder that theorized the possibilities of a future colonial society, this book challenges established accounts of not only political thought within Imperial Spain, but also the intellectual, cultural, and religious climates of the Americas. Indeed, by reading imperial political thought in Spain as the prod uct of a broader culture of inquiry, rather than a solely continental development, one can paint a richer portrait of imperial formation. Furthermore, I r e construct a critical period in the New Worldâ€™s modern history: a period of innovation, dispossession, and accommodation, dubbed the Spiritual Con quest: a period in which European thinkersâ€”and the colonized people of the A m ericasâ€”struggled to resolve the emerging moral and political challenges of their new joint fate. Recognizing that Spanish imperial agents held more critical views of ancient and biblical historiography, as well as more complex appreciations of indigenous cultures, should prompt political theorists today to reconsider the oblivious tropes surrounding Spain and its political signicance for modernity. Ã¾ Yet I am not interested in reviving old debates and grand narratives of the Black or White Legends, nor of freeing Spanish colonizers from moral scrutiny. What I aspire to is to use the interpretive tools available to historians of political thought as a means of clarifying concepts, understanding distinctions, and ap preciating the worldviews of these characters. In a few words, again with Skinner, I a im t o â€œso far as possible . . . see things their way.â€ Where I dier from existing accounts of early Colonial Spanish Americaâ€™s place in the history of political t h ought is two-fold: rst, that I read missionary writings as contributing to the emerging Enlightenment spirit being cultivated across European universities in the sixteenth century; and second, that it was men of various religious faiths who would sow the seeds of these new cultures in the New World.
fr Ã¾ Only by excluding the activities and stories of what historians have dubbed t he Hispanic Enlightenment does the narrative of a monolithic Spanish back wardness hold sway, and by extension, the allegedly derivative character of New W o rld intellectual production. is is not to whitewash the violence and blood shed of Spanish Conquest. Plenty of ink has been spilled over this very question a n d what little remaining value there is to grand narratives of what Lewis Hanke once called Spainâ€™s â€œcivilizingâ€ justice. Yet if political theorists today engage with the individual actions of Spanish intellectuals in the New World, the six teenth century garners a rather fascinating mirror through which we can per ceive many of our own preconceptionsâ€”about nature, to be sure, but also about t h e boundaries between wonder, politics, and political thinking. Ã¾ In deed, Carlos Fuentes long ago captured this sense of historical renexivity in his celebrated text, e Buried Mirror . Writing on the Latin American connec tions with Europe, he considered how â€œthe Spain that arrived in the New World o n t he ships of the discoverers and conquerors gave us at least half our being. So it is not surprising that our debate with Spain should have been, and continues to be, so intense. For it is a debate with ourselves.â€ If, in eect, political theorists still have something to say about Imperial Spainâ€™s legacies on our present think ingâ€”particularly about natureâ€”this study continues the debate. Ã¾ Fina lly, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that this is a history of con querors more so than a history of the conquered. is may raise several dilemmas for scholars in the humanities and social sciences, as well as environmen tal activists, particularly at the risk of rendering my account into some kind o f a h agiography. Yet as Bianca Premo notes, the Spanish Empire is at the core of the most critical intellectual transformations of modernity, with none more important than the very notion of the Enlightenment as an epistemology and historical event: In what was once called the â€œDebate of the New World,â€ creole intellec tions defended the regionâ€™s past and their own ability to interpret it, skep tical of the eyewitness accounts of early Spanish chroniclers as well as of n e wer northern European alternatives that degraded Amerindians and American-born Spaniards. Spanish American historians created a new way of writing history based on their proximity to the New World and their mastery of native sourcesâ€”in many ways, laying the foundation for our own way of writing historyâ€”in a dialectic with the rest of Europe.I do not intend for these renections to whitewash the violence of Spainâ€™s impe rial past. However, not knowing the stories that conquerors themselves em -
ff ployed in justifying their violenceâ€”physical and intellectualâ€”is also a venture full of risk. As Edward Said noted almost r years ago in Culture and Imperi alism , â€œ e power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and em erging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.â€ Understanding that process of nar rative formation underlies my motivations, certainly more so than neglecting t h e history of Amerindian peoples who sueredâ€”but also contributed in unacknowledged ways toâ€”Spainâ€™s rule for rr years. Any egregious omissions are my own fault. Ã¾ e book develops across ve chapters. In chapter f, entitled â€œNarratives of Conquest and the Conquest of Narrative,â€ I show how literary forms and tropes inherited from the early formation of the Spanish state were central to the conceptualization of American nature by Spanish naturalists. By framing their eorts as an empirical typology of narrative inquiry across distinct works of natural history, I demonstrate the ways dierent types of stories employed by sixteenth-century naturalists can be traced and reconstructed. Ã¾ Ch apter , â€œOviedo, Las Casas, and the Dierence at Made Nature,â€ en gages classical work in the political theory of empire, focusing on the history of n a ture writing. My substantive focus in this chapter is on the connict between the Dominican friar Bartolom de Las Casas and the ocial royal chronicler Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo. Las Casas and Oviedo traveled to the New World while emerging from the cultural context of the Spanish Reconquista . In the two historiansâ€™ works one nds opposing visions of a utopian Ameri can landscape, where nature was not so much the setting, as it was the means t hr ough which a modern imperial project could be made possible. Whereas Las Casas is credited for inverting the story of territorial conquest originally deployed by Oviedo, he adapts this genre to the specic interests of an entire generation of missionary scientists: religious assimilation. Ã¾ Ch apter , â€œThe Anthropolitics of Bernardino de Sahagn,â€ homes in on Book XI of the renowned polyvocal text, the Florentine Codex , specifically a chapter entitled â€œEarthly Things.â€ I argue that Sahagn inherited several narrative elements and themes from early travelers of the Americas, includ ing the conception of colonization as part of a satanic epic. By attempting t o de humanize native peoples and demonize the natural world, the story of conquest in this period is transformed into an account of conflicting moral orders. Yet Sahagnâ€™s journey also demonstrates the extent to which natural historians were indebted to indigenous beliefs and intellectual la bor, despite the dangers this proximity would pose to notions of European
f supremacy, as the problems of deciphering culture became indistinguish able from the interpretation of faith. Ã¾ Ch apter , â€œe Imperial Renaissance of Francisco Hernndez,â€ paints a portrait of natural historyâ€™s fall from prominence as a lost episode in the early modern culture of scientic inquiry. e chapter focuses on reconstructing the contributions of the little-known imperial doctor (protomedico ) Francisco Hernndez de Toledo. In fbr, Hernndez was appointed by King Philip II to lead the rst scientic expedition aimed at collecting and cataloguing natural life in the New World. Although a massive wealth of information on the natu ral environment of New Spain emerged from Hernndezâ€™s mission, by fb H er nndez had lost favor with King Philip II, with much of his work lost to re and intrigue. Hernndezâ€™s story therefore captures the contentious role played by natural history as a handmaiden of empire, as well as source of ideological confrontation during the late Spanish Renaissance. Ã¾ In chapter b, â€œJos de Acosta and the Ends of Empire,â€ I look at the Jesuit his torian Jos de Acostaâ€™s contributions to the theoretical development of natural hi s tory, reconstructing the normative goals and literary strategies behind his magnum opus, the Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias . As a philosophical exploration of the natural landscape of the New World, the Historia Natural is fraught with connicting goals. Although the workâ€™s zealousness has led to its modern-day marginalization, Acostaâ€™s contributions to natural philosophy are central to the development of foundational political thinkers of the seven teenth century. To this end, he remains an indispensable interlocutor in the em er gence of early modern political thought. Ã¾ In t he concluding epilogue, â€œToward a Natural History of Colonial Domina tion,â€ I present the story of Spanish natural history as part of a larger journey o f hi storiographical evolution, asserting how the stu of nature has, over time, become the stu of human civilization. is, at least, is how Western scholars have dened the development of the human sciences, where the documen tation of collective memory is central to the movement from savagery and b a rbarism toward the more familiar plains of commercial society. e conclu sion reiterates why the return to natural history retains a contemporary moral r e levance. In turn, it points toward new directions in studying the relationship of mutual dependency between European power and indigenous American thought. Ã¾ At the heart of the dynamic exchange that shaped the creation of the New World is the evolution of narrative modes of inquiry central to the political landscape of the Americas, past and present. is, indeed, is the normative
f assumption of recent works across the humanities that seek to resist both the slander and misappropriation of Latin Americaâ€™s many voices; it also drives the political immediacy of my own eorts. In closing, then, telling that history of resistance and adaptation to the project of natural history is a necessary task. Invariably, many of the sources I draw inspiration from have already begun that arduous process. My hope is that by telling the story of how would-be conquerors were transformed by the marvels of the New World, we can add an other crucial piece in support of that larger struggle for self-expression across t h e Americas.
1 nt b b ntese works do not describe events; they are events, and they transcend self-reference to refer to the world outside themselves.Rolena Adorno, e Polemics of Possessione central claim of this book is that Spanish natural historians of the sixteenth century created a new genre of inquiry in their representations of the New Worldâ€™s natural environments. In the process, they deployed a wide range of recurring narrative tropes found across modern political thought: premod ern states of nature, progressive strategies for resource â€œimprovement,â€ and r o mantic epics dramatizing the plight of human life against environmental insecurity. Central to this collective endeavor was the image of the New World as an untamed landscape that could serve the dual ends of imperial extraction: resource accumulation and knowledge appropriation. Ã¾ Yet what emerged from the eorts of these early explorers was the blurry p ortrait of a future world from which Europeans could assess their failings. For both Spaniards and their Creole successors, natural history served as a medium through which lived-experience, natural philosophy, and visual cul ture could inform a burgeoning narrative of civilization. is chapter focuses on how that vision came about, specically the distinct elements from Spainâ€™s Reconquista that constitute a master narrative from which sixteenth-century missionaries could cra a historiography of New World nature. Ã¾ In the long sixteenth century, natural history was but one of the narratives s haping the emergence of European modernity and the Scientic Revolution. Alongside merchant capitalism and the centralization of juridical power, natural historians competed with other ideological trends to render their cra p o litically useful. ey also had the added goal to line up their eorts with the
fb aims of â€œthe Queen of the sciencesâ€â€”theology. Key to the development of this missionary science was natural historyâ€™s concerns with genealogy (particularly in the absence of biblical or classical points of reference), comparative analysis (as an extension of exegetical interpretation), experimentation (as a feature of cultural extirpation), and practical philosophy (as a key disposition of their humanist training). Spanish naturalists were situated between state demands for survey data, on the one hand, and the experience of wonder eagerly sought by Europeans, on the other. Ã¾ As I a rgue below, however, natural history evolved in this context along dierent narrative axes and disputes over the proper bases of empirical evi dence. Closer examination of these dierences shows not only the evolving co n ceptual formation of natural history, but more importantly its cohesion as a genre of political thought. In the rst part of this chapter, I discuss the nar rative origins of Spanish descriptions of American nature and why narrative i s t he appropriate conceptual starting point for the intellectual reconstruction of sixteenth-century New World nature. Second, I examine the narrative styles employed by Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, Bartolom de Las Casas, Ber nardino de Sahagn, Francisco Hernndez, and Jos de Acosta in order to de v elop a typology of constitutive narratives in and about New World nature. roughout the chapter, I note how the evolution of early modern natural his tory as a science of domination is inextricable from Spainâ€™s grand narrative of im p erial ascendance, illustrating the distinct blend of exegetical analysis and empirical observation characterizing its practice. Ã¾ At t he background level, the encounter, conquest, and naturalization of a Spanish imperial project was preceded by a series of epistemic shis in the po litical imaginary of the European continent. Central across these shis was the n a rrative of La Reconquista : a rr-year military and cultural campaign against the Moorish Caliphates of Southern Iberia that culminated in the joint reign of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile as Reyes Catlicos . As Patricia Seed has shown, La Reconquista served the dual function of priming narrative accounts in the New World to justify the creation of an empire, while also le gitimating the violence employed in its conquest. I go further here by showing how La Reconquista set up what I call distinct â€œconstitutive narrativesâ€ across the long sixteenth century; that is to say, moral frames of reference that would guide the eorts of missionary naturalists as they moved from the conquest of nature to its colonial domestication. Ã¾ By un packing the respective tropes, sources of evidence, and alleged nor mative implications that Spanish naturalists saw emerging from their interac tion with indigenous societies and nature, I also show that key to the aims
ft of their natural histories was to ground the political narrative of empire in the proper spiritual and philosophical terrain. Rather than merely extending the epic chronicles of religious conquest and manly virtue that characterized the Spanish Reconquista , natural history gave rise to a more complex master narrative, with parallel modes of scholarly inquiry to legitimate its goals. Ã¾ I wan t to be careful at the outset to present a portrait of the multiple natural environments and beings depicted by natural historians that does not treat the Americas as an undierentiated canvas. Indeed, this is one of the primary issues with how canonical political theorists from John Locke to Adam Smith tended to conceptualize precontact life in the New World. While the range of landscapes, animals, weather patterns, and rituals examined by the natural histories I interpret is limitless, my focus is on how distinct audiences were engaged. Ã¾ Pa rticularly in the cases of Oviedo and Las Casas, rhetorical description itself was â€œthe event â€ to admire, not only the contents of their observations. To that end, I spend more time looking at specic depictions of New World nature in Sahagnâ€™s, Hernndezâ€™s, and Acostaâ€™s works than in Oviedoâ€™s and Las Casasâ€™s. is is by no means a rejection of the contents they each described, but rather a tactical choice to emphasize their form and its lasting eects. At stake in clarifying these dierent subgenres are the connective tissues between a narrative of conquest inherited from Spainâ€™s rise to imperial prominence and the attempts by naturalists to shape their own narrative of empire throughout the early decades of colonization.The Narrative Origins of American Naturee concept of nature is not a new concern for political theorists. Yet naturalis tic experience of the New Worldâ€”not to mention its documentationâ€”remains a n a mbivalent theme within the study of early modern thought. ere are two prevailing views on the relationship between lived-experiences and their nar rative representation, whether in textual or visual form. On one side, theorists a n d philosophers of narrative from Hayden White to Paul Ricoeur argue that all attempts at reconstruction or contextual clarication of concepts are cultur ally bound. More specically, as Hayden White writes, â€œIt is precisely because the narrative mode of representation is so natural to human consciousness, so much an aspect of everyday speech and ordinary discourse, that its use in any eld of study aspiring to the status of a science must be suspect.â€ In applying discursive frames to the past, we inevitably impose upon it our own assump -
f tions and stories about the world. Another camp of theorists and philosophers of language, from Martin Heidegger to David Carr, see the role of stories in more structural terms, as features of human consciousness. As Mark urner puts it, precisely about the colonial past, â€œhistorical knowledge works very much like a mythology: it is always written and read from and for a posterity that is â€˜usâ€™ â€˜and oursâ€™ . . . from a future that already is or was . . . the writing of history is always about what has been and is, but also about what should or will be.â€ For this camp of theorists, the history of the world itself would be impos sible without our ability to tell stories. Ã¾ e t ension between experience and representation is perhaps all the more salient when it concerns accounts of nature. As William Cronon has shown, at the heart of nature-centric narratives lies a negotiation of human values. e kinds of stories humans have told and continue to tell about the natural world, he argues, show that â€œwhat we care the most about nature is its meaning for human beings. . . . Human interests and connicts create values in nature that in turn provide the moral center of our stories.â€ In the sixteenth century, this moral center was constantly in nux, as the struggle over telling natureâ€™s his tory was mirrored by the imperial struggle over nature itself. at control was r st sought out as part of a moralizing mission grounded in stories, myths, and allegories, where colonial domination accompanied a renewed search for knowledge and millenarian convictions of salvation. To make military con quest endure, a spiritual conquest was necessary to provide meaning out of s uc h otherworldly transformations. Ã¾ Fo r my purposes, linking the concept of narrative to the shiing moral cen ters of the sixteenth century conveys the innovative ways that Spanish chroni clers, explorers, and missionaries wrote about the New World. Following Leslie P a ul ieleâ€™s description, narratives â€œserve as the banisters of ethical life,â€ where attempts to ground experience via â€œmetaphor and mythology play a greater role than axioms and argument in the development of moral character.â€ e natural histories composed by Spanish missionaries and explorers sought to provide such a banister in a still-unknown New World. As I elaborate below, the implications of their contributions to history, science, and political ideol ogy have been mostly overlooked, I suspect, as a result of their ties to religious ide a ls; yet their revival sheds light on many historical, even contemporary, challenges worth re-examining from our posterity. Ã¾ o ugh Imperial Spain claimed possession over the largest known territo rial expanse of its time, the culture of state secrecy that shaped its scientic en de avors remains an obstacle for historical interpretation. Although knowl -
f edge accumulation was encouraged, knowledge dissemination proved far more politically risky. Yet there are broader institutional dynamics to account for as well. As John H. Elliot has documented, one of the most innuential myths of our age of sovereign states is to overplay the extent to which territorial unity is the de jure governing principle of modernity. Instead, Elliot points to the history of â€œcomposite statesâ€ across the eenth and sixteenth centuries as an alternative, and at the time desirable, path of political aggrandizement. In this composite model, units with a strong administrative core, â€œ[coexisted] with a myriad smaller territorial and jurisdictional units jealously guarding their independent status.â€ Hence the model of national histories is not only inad equate to study the cultures informing scientic exploration in the Americas, i t c an be downright misleading. Ã¾ Gi ven the composite status of the Spanish Empireâ€”which included not only the imperial metropolis and viceroyalties in the New World, but also multieth nic territories across the Netherlands and Germany, alongside a wide array of co r porate entities from missionary orders to commercial clearing housesâ€”the links between its symbolic power and innuence over its agents are far from straightforward. at diusion of power is what allowed, on the one hand, for jurists and philosophers to actively debate imperial policy toward indigenous peoples in Spain, but also generated, on the other hand, the culture of bureau cratic rivalry that pit colonial municipalities, merchants, and missionary or ders against each other for jurisdiction over indigenous labor and well-being. i s p artly explains the absence of conventionalâ€”or, in their case, Scholasticâ€” Spanish political theorists, such as Luis de Molina or Juan de Miranda, among others, in my analysis. While some of these thinkers wrote treatises in urban capitals, others braved the elements to tell of the unknown and build altogether new analytic vocabularies. In sum, the â€œempireâ€ was shaped by groups and in dividuals on the so-called geographical margins just as much as by the learned m en in t he courts. Ã¾ Moreover, as historians of science have increasingly documented, the Span i sh encounter with the lands, peoples, and creatures of the New World played a de ci sive role in the emergence of a modern, scientic worldview across Eu rope. e distinct environments of the Americas fueled a vital concern with perennial questions regarding the state, the boundaries of legality, national identity, and civilization, in addition to inquiries into the ecological origins of these landscapes. If nature was the catalyst, natural history was the means to arrive at a whole set of new questions. As Shawn Miller notes in his An Envi ronmental H istory of L atin America , one such set of new concerns was rethink ing what writing history was all about:
f History without nature is not only self-serving, it is inaccurate, short sighted, and potentially perilous to the human story line. For the drama t o b e complete, we must cast both nature and culture in the roles of pro tagonist, for each have dealt the other health and sickness, aid and harm, a n d life and death . . . All of our histories need not be environmental, but in some of our histories, nature and culture deserve equal billing.us beyond the potential material benets of seemingly boundless natural resources, the spirit of conquest was paralleled by a spirit of inquiry. Just as Charles V had sought to rebrand the Spanish nation under the Romanesque mantra of Plus Ultra , so too did natural historians aspire to become a â€œPlinyâ€ of the New World. Yet despite its prominent role in making the New World rst known and familiar to European audiences, Imperial Spain and its various agents have since the sixteenth century retained a distinct notoriety. Ã¾ As r ival empires emerged in the seventeenth century, the violence and greed that characterized the early conquest of the Americas was used to denounce and diminish Spanish authority. Spain was increasingly deemed a backward, corruptive, and abusive power. Much of that negative image was especially fu eled by the pen of the empireâ€™s own missionaries, most notably Bartolom de L a s Casas (fâ€“fbtt). In his Brevsima relacin de la destruccin de las Indias , published in fbb, Las Casas notes with unparalleled candor, if not hyperbole, the extent of Spanish atrocities. Indeed, as the work was translated into mul tiple languages, it was adapted for other kinds of anti-Spanish endeavors. Not ir o nically, the rst translation appeared in Antwerp in fb, just two years aer the city had been sacked by Spanish soldiers in a massacre known as the Spanish Fury. Translated by the Flemish author Jacques de Miggrode, the preface exp l ains how Las Casasâ€™s testimony should â€œserve as example and warning to the seventeen provinces of the Low Countriesâ€ of the extent to which Spaniards would go to subjugate a free people. Ã¾ Deemed as incapable of civilized rule, and ill-suited to be the intellectual cen ter in a shiing geopolitical landscape, Imperial Spainâ€™s reputation was threatened long before its administrative or territorial control of the New World was challenged. Yet the historical arc of Spainâ€™s triumph and decline is doubly instructive. As Jorge Caizares-Esguerra has documented, North Eu ropean thinkers from Francis Bacon to Alexander von Humboldt relied heav ily on the empirical repository collected by agents of Imperial Spain. e dierence in how these two thinkers appropriated Spanish ndings, however, is contextually important, for as Caizares-Esguerra notes, â€œIncreasing Dutch and English competition and the failure of Spain and Portugal to carry out
r reforms to consolidate the centralizing power of the state as in France led to the relative â€˜declineâ€™ of the Iberians in the seventeenth century. Already dur ing the Reformation and wars of Dutch independence,â€ he goes on to illus trate, â€œnorthwestern European printers had created an image of the Iberians as s u perstitious and rapacious plunderers. â€˜Declineâ€™ not only hardened percep tions; criticism now came wrapped in the idioms of progress and the Iberians w er e cast as essentially non-Europeans: backward and ignorant.â€ Critiques of Spanish intellectual indolence were thus linked to a broader narrative deployed in defense of threatened Protestant interests and with the intent of curbing Catholic Spainâ€™s ideological power. Ã¾ Whi le scholars of global history such as Brian Owensby and Bianca Premo have recently made inroads to account for Imperial Spainâ€™s early political con tributions to modernityâ€”without sugarcoating the complex architecture of do min ation it maintainedâ€”much of that literature concentrates on the legal and institutional formation of the empire vis--vis its European competitors. e empirical origins of that political infrastructure, to say nothing of how religious orders were at its intellectual center, are also a key part of the evolving scholarly discourses on the history of the Enlightenment. As Spanish naturalists made sense of the New Worldâ€™s environmental riches, they blazed a trail t h at others would soon follow.Writing the Natural History of the New WorldNews of Columbusâ€™s arrival in the Americas brought elaborate, fantastic de scriptions of new lands and peoples. Many of the rst chroniclers of American n a ture also spawned outrageous tales of monstrous creatures and uninhab itable landscapes. As these images became widespread throughout Europe, growing numbers of humanists, scientists, theologians, jurists, and learned scholars were in the midst of returning to the writings of Greco-Roman think ers, and in turn began searching for interpretive links between the so-called O ld a nd New Worlds. According to Antonio Barrera-Osorio, the connuence of commercial and scholarly pursuits of the time incited great artistic and techno logical innovation, as â€œscientic practitioners began to leave aside traditional t ex tual-medieval practices and to search for empirical methods of understand ing nature.â€ A growing sense of boldness and investigation informed writings from this period, challenging in great numbers the authority of the Ancients on the laws and secrets of nature. Ã¾ For political theorists, as well as historians of Imperial Spain, the work of A nthony Pagden has been foundational in translating the many intellectual
f and political changes that Spanish exploration brought forth to early modern thought. His now-classic text, e Fall of Natural Man , documents the debates over natural slavery and economic development that shaped colonial legisla tion, from the Leyes de Bu r gos of fbf to the Leyes Nuevas of fb. ese bodies of law dictated the proper behavior of imperial agents in light of the conquestâ€™s worst excesses. As Pagden argues, the emergence of these laws would have been impossible without the observations of visionaries such as Las Casas, whose experience in the Americas challenged Aristotelian notions of natural slavery and the alleged incapacity of Amerindian peoples for mental and social development. However, although Pagden is interested in recovering a philo sophical attitude about the New World and its inhabitants, he is less attuned t o h ow the natural environment of the Americas itself plays a formative role in the legal, social, and political discourses shaping imperial actions. Ã¾ In their eorts to cra natural history as a coherent eld of study, New World naturalists negotiated two ideological imperatives: on one hand, they served the material and political interests of Spanish imperial administration; on the other, natural historians saw their cra as part of a distinctively scien tic worldview. According to Mara Portuondo, â€œNowhere was the determina tion to create a new framework to explain the reality of the New World more s t eadfast than in sixteenth century Spain.â€ However, she goes on to warn: Practices that from our modern perspective might seem scientic and that we associate with post-Newtonian methodologies either did not ex ist during the early modern era or belong to wholly dierent approaches t o exp laining nature. erefore, when early modern historians refer to science we are using the word anachronistically but also as an expedient way of referring to a group of quite distinct ways of producing knowledge about the natural world.Storytelling in this context helped naturalize the imperial mission by taking the American landscape and its contents as the unit of analysis to explain so cial, political, and economic dierences between indigenous peoples and Europeans. e natural world was thus not the setting, but the means through which modern empire itself was rst formalized. And while histories of Imperial Spain oen begin with the dual legacies of stateand empire-formation, b o th are the result of two narrative tropes: an existential struggle with allegedly uncivilized others and the legitimation of wartime exploits through chivalric myths of manly virtue. Ã¾ Chivalric epics became a central medium through which the battles, ballads, a nd romances were popularizedâ€”rst in the Reconquista , then in the New
Worldâ€™s conquest. A veritable Siglo de Oro was inaugurated with the encounter and colonization of the Americas, as Spainâ€™s alleged cultural, religious, and his torical superiorityâ€”rst forged in just warfare against the Moorsâ€”was further b o lstered by the formalization of the Castilian dialect. Soldiers, jurists, and missionaries alike portrayed their struggles and stories in the vernacular of a so-called Spanish tongue. More than just oering stylized accounts of military prowess, however, the chivalric epic shaped a narrative style that emphasized both lived-experiences and providential cultural goals. Epic heroes told their stories as appeals to action, shaping cadres of sailors, soldiers, and men of faith to follow the bidding of both King and Church. Natural historians were no dierent in this regard. More critically, their writings sought to blend the aims of military and spiritual conquest toward the subjugation of nature itself.Natural History as Narrative of Conquestree dierent constitutive narratives about New World nature can be traced in the writings of sixteenth-century natural historians: rst, the monstrous and paradisiacal narratives of Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo (fâ€“fbb) and Bar tolom de Las Casas (fâ€“fbtt); second, the ethnographic and anthropological theories of Bernardino de Sahagn (fâ€“fbr); and third, the experimental models of data collection and practical philosophy developed by Francisco H er nndez (fbfâ€“fb) and Jos de Acosta (fbâ€“ftrr). Taken separately, these three frames focus on a respective political premise: for Oviedo and Las Casas, dierent ethical models of nature-society interaction debated by imperial a u thorities; for Sahagn, the value of intercultural knowledge for the manage ment of colonial institutions; and for Hernndez and Acosta, the central role o f p ractical philosophy as a scientic strategy of domination. Ã¾ Ta ble f below lists the dierent narrative types employed by Spanish mis sionary naturalists and their respective works of natural history. In addition t o t ropes and evidentiary sources, I include the â€œConstitutive Narrativesâ€ that gave rise to distinct stylistic elements, as well as the â€œNarrative Eectsâ€ that would emerge from hypothesized interactions between future colonial soci eties and the natural world. Rather than oering a continuation of the epic n a rrative of religious conquest and manly virtue, natural history gave rise to a more complex, integrative, and experimental mode of scientic inquiry and political storytelling: a naturalist epic. Ã¾ Eac h of the above literary tropes employed by Spanish natural historiansâ€” for example, nature as a timeless space, as a bifurcated realm of good and evil, or as a Great Book to learn fromâ€”represents a dierent style of empirical
inquiry, a set of theoretical presuppositions, and a range of political eects, which I explore in more detail in the following sections. Importantly, the nor mative dimensions of these inquiries were negotiated through the search for co h erent, baseline evidence of the connections between American nature and Amerindian societies. Taken together, these three phases in the evolution of sixteenth-century natural history reveal the layered eorts to formalize the experience of nature: rst in the name of cultural conquest and later as a selfconscious science. ough the Reconquista was not the only narrative at work in early modern Spain, it brought together elements that framed the encounter with the New World in a familiar light for droves of Spaniards. at famil iarity served to legitimate a greater civilizational mission in the face of new c h allenges. Ã¾ Ra ther than reading each of these thinkers in isolation from each other, I approach them by emphasizing their role in the narrative conquest of nature in the Americas. By way of this original script, I also aim to examine the po tential of their attempts to rewrite the story of empire. What sixteenth-century S p aniards found in the Americas was a landscape that challenged existing as sumptions about nature, people, and the earth. While many of the marvels of t h e New World were met with the violence of conquest and colonization, an entire eld of study was deployed to catalogue, test, and, in some instances, conserve the diversity of life found in Americaâ€™s strange lands. Natural history, Table 1. Constitutive narratives of natural history Constitutive Narratives Narrative Style Trope Evidence Narrative Eectse narrative of conquest (1492) Chivalric; taxonomical (Oviedo/ Las Casas) Nature as timeless Analogical; eyewitness accounts Nature as corruptive; nature as salutary Demonology as anthropology (1552) Ethnographic; interlingual (Sahagn) Nature as bifurcated Scripts & codices; semiology Nature as source of order and fear Naturalist dissonance (1570) Experimental; philosophical (Hernndez / Acosta) Nature as Great Book Exploration; observation Nature and man as mutually interpretive Compiled by author.
a eld of inquiry empowered by a burgeoning empire, was reinvented in light of empirical puzzles that challenged existing European systems of knowledge. Natural historians tasked themselves with explaining how the world should be, but also what made the Americas a suitable space for colonization.Constitutive Narrative : The Narrative of ConquestFor one set of actors in the Americas, the narrative of conquest born in Spain was expanded to include a monstrous and unpredictable natural world, not just an allegedly uncivilized opponent. In this view, the unknown and exotic were used as proof of Godâ€™s favored view of the Spaniards as bearers of the Chris tian faith, as well as Satanâ€™s exile from Heaven into a forgotten and dangerous w o rld of seduction. A cosmic battle was waged to defend both nation and faith. For another set of imperial agents, the drives behind conquest demanded moral and spiritual reform. Spaniards had been seduced by evil to wage war on the New World; if there was any hope for either, proper cultivation of the land and its inhabitantsâ€™ souls had to take place. erefore, reconquering the natural world in the Americas had to take place through a â€œconquest of nar rativeâ€ itself. Ã¾ As the rst of three distinctive styles, the narrative of conquest displays the evolution of the Reconquista narrative between the publication of Gon zalo Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la Na t ural Historia de las Indias (fbt) and Bartolom de Las Casasâ€™s Brevsima relacin de la destruccin de las Indias (fbb). In this time, early natural historians emphasized two aspects of nature in the New World: its seemingly endless abundance and its constitutive role in the formation of indigenous polities. Natural history was conceived as a kind of â€œpublic mirrorâ€ to engage wider European audiencesâ€”at once conrming or denecting European preconceptions around religion, psychological develop ment, and the necessary elements of civilization in the Americas. Ã¾ Li ke the writers of epic romances before him, for example, Oviedo wrote of an exotic, liminal land populated by eroticized pineapples and delicious iguanas. As court historian, his attempt to collect and classify as much as possible of the New Worldâ€™s environments led him to posit American nature as an inviting space, where, in Kathleen Ann Myersâ€™s words, â€œthe reader can praise the wonders of Godâ€™s creation.â€ Yet when writing of the arduous tasks he endured to produce his General and Natural History of the Indies , Oviedo nevertheless nds great uncertainty in the experience of New World nature, hoping that his readers will: â€œbe satised with what I have seen and lived with many dangers . . . enjoy it and suer none of them, and may he [sic ] be able to
b read it in his own country without undergoing such hunger and thirst, heat and cold, or innumerable other travails, without venturing into storms at sea, nor the misfortunes one suers in those lands.â€ Ã¾ Las Casas, as well, saw in the Americas a lost Edenic paradise. In his mind, seemingly untouched lands and peoples were proof that God had once ruled over this allegedly new space and that Spanish Conquest threatened its pristine order. As he reports on the kingdoms of Naco and Honduras, for instance, before the arrival of conquering Spaniards they had â€œseemed a true paradise of delights and were more populous than the most frequented and populous land on earth. And now we have passed there and come that way, and we saw them in such devastation and so wanting in inhabitants that any person, however hard he might be, his heart would break in grief to see it.â€ Ã¾ Both men therefore viewed the environments of the New World as spaces of g reat beauty, but also great uncertainty and instability. ough the sources of that volatility varyâ€”for Oviedo they emerge from the native peoples, for Las Casas from the Spaniardsâ€”key in their rhetorical strategies is to place upon Imperial Spain a kind of providential charge to take responsibility over that for which they were now master narrators. Ã¾ La s Casas, for instance, was awestruck by the great extent to which land, an imals, and peoples seemed to emerge as if from nowhere. Having commented ext en sively on the epistemological expectations that early European travelers brought with them in the rst stages of the encounter, Tzvetan Todorov de scribes Las Casasâ€™s aection for American nature as a theoretical source for m o dern applications of natural law. More specically, for Las Casas, the Amerindian relation to nature represented a model of what life in the Edenic para dise most likely resembled. Ã¾ Whi le Las Casas did not complete his monumental account of the origins of the New Worldâ€™s peoples, the Apologtica historia summaria de las gentes de stas In dias , h e continued a practice of using eyewitness experience that helped frame his broader arguments regarding the moral dimensions of the New Worldâ€™s environments, including the politics of race and the religious ends of empire. Compiled in fbtr, the Apologtica historia is regarded by contempo rary observers as a â€œproto-ethnographic treatise,â€ the heart of which is Las Ca sasâ€™s use (in Rolena Adornoâ€™s words) of â€œclassical and medieval environmental t h eories . . . [applying] them to the Antilles, demonstrating that the archipelago was a most propitious place to favor humanity and foster the development of a benign human nature.â€ Ã¾ Las Casasâ€™s contributions are generally contrasted to those of Oviedo, who as t he ocial royal chronicler of the empire popularized a vision of the Americas
t that was more in line with European desires to master the continentâ€™s novelty. As he writes in the Preface to his General and Natural History , â€œWhat mortal understanding can comprehend such diversity of languages, habits, [or] customs among the people of the Indies? Such variety of animals, from domestic t o w ild and savage? Such an unutterable multitude of trees, [some] laden with diverse kinds of fruit and others barren, both those which the Indians cultivate as those produced by Natureâ€™s own work without the aid of human hands?â€ ough the two chroniclers dier in their portrayal of American nature as either epistemologically or spiritually incommensurable, they share a conceit common to Spanish natural history to see New World nature as timeless. Ã¾ Li ke many of their contemporaries, both men were shocked to nd that such a vast world could have existed unbeknownst to the â€œOld Worldâ€ and its litany of learned men. e great desire for knowledge of the New Worldâ€™s mys teries therefore contributed to its representation as a space from which only t h e properly trained historian could garner temporally relevant, practical, and authoritative meaning (as in Oviedoâ€™s case), or, as a space untouched by the degradation and vices of modernity and capable of redeeming all its inhabit ants (as with Las Casas). Ã¾ As s paces seemingly frozen in time, the Americas oered contrapuntal mod els of regeneration for European travelers. In Las Casasâ€™s vision, the Americasâ€™ temporal and moral superiority was renected in lush and vibrant landscapes; in Oviedoâ€™s story, hybrid creatures, languid peoples, and seductive terrains popu lated the New World as a land of epistemological strife, a realm divorced from t h e domain of the knowable. Many of the sixteenth-century chronicles of nature are couched between these extremes. No consensus existed over the proper nar rative terms that historians should use to witness, portray, and understand the e v ents of the conquest. Yet as Spanish colonizers became more adept and im mersed in the American environment, these narrative poles gave way to more co m parative strategies and a greater concern with cultural appropriation. Ã¾ Mo ral appropriation of the natural world, as a corruptive or salutary envi ronment, is one of the implications stemming from the Reconquista a s t rans planted narrative to the New World. With the discovery of new lands and p e oples, the chronicle of La Reconquista was ably deployed through the two mediums of travel narratives and epic poems. In particular, the travel narrative acted as an expression of distinct civilizational prejudices concerning mascu linity, faith, and textual authority, as well as served to portray the Americas as a r ep ository of licentious desires. What more patriotic a journey could subjects of a great empire partake in than the conquering of a New World? Ã¾ One a nswer to this question comes from the epic poems written during the
Reconquista and later adapted to the circumstances of New World exploration. In the classical epic poems, the Iberian territory was portrayed as a feminine space in need of salvation from the corruptive Moorish caliphs. Coupled with a conception of manly virtue that championed virility (in battle, as well as sub jugation), the Reconquista n a rrative deployed religious overtones that depicted priests as knights in pursuit of Satan and his allies. During the conquest of the Americas, the same literary tropes found sustained expression. Campaigns were portrayed as expansions of Catholic Providence, where imperial agents were actively plotted against by Satan. Notable in these narratives was the con ception of the natural environment itself as being allied to demonic forces. One n d s examples of this narrative trope across all three of the puzzles I explore below, but none as polemical as in the earlier Edenic writings of Oviedo and Las Casas. Ã¾ Ov iedo and Las Casas drew connicting lessons from the Reconquista . Oviedo saw conquest as an opportunity for projecting Spainâ€™s glory onto a corrupt co lonial canvas; the oddities and monstrosities in the Americas served to legiti mate the myth of a world perverted by Satan and the need for Spain to conquer i t. I n that light, conquest served the function of craing a new portrait of em pire and imperial history. Las Casas, on other hand, saw conquest as a mirror in w hic h Spaniards could renect on how far they had strayed from their pro fessed faith. New World nature was proof that God had set indigenous peoples a p art from the corrupt forces of modernity, so that Europeans may learn from them. Spanish violence against these prebiblical peoples and landscapes only brought Spaniards closer to Satan himself. Ã¾ A clos er look at nature and the ways indigenous peoples lived with the earth, Las Casas argued, would show Spaniards a better path and lifestyle to ward salvation. New arts of reading and interpreting indigenous systems of k n owledge would emerge here and begin to gather a solid scholarly standing. Early conquerors had emphasized the readings of signs and the production of literary scripts as markers of mental, social, and technological development in the Americas. In the land itself, agriculture and urbanization became the visual cues highlighting dominium over nature. As debates ensued over the ve racity and reliability of early Edenic writings on American nature, ethnography p l ayed a greater role in developing typologies of cultural dierence.Constitutive Narrative : Demonology as AnthropologyModern theorists of history and social progress, such as those emerging from the Scottish and French Enlightenments, challenged Spanish writings from
the sixteenth century on developmental grounds. Central to their disagree ments was nding the proper way of framing the Americas, and the phenom enon of historical writing more broadly, as part of a growing self-conscious s c ience of man. Key to this science was the typology of historical stages that emerged to substantiate previous analogies between the Ancient and New Worlds. Ã¾ As En lightenment theorists castigated Spanish chroniclers for letting their prejudices get too much in the way of their documentation of the American world, Franciscan missionaries such as Bernardino de Sahagn had already developed great comparative systems that oered the raw material for Scottish stadial theories. In these systems, one nds representations of the Americas as a repository of cultural deviance that needed to be archived, coded, and withdrawn from circulation, so that proper cultivation of Catholic values could take place. e principal task of the ethnographer, as Sahagn saw it, was to â€œlight all the words of this [Nahuatl] language with their literal and metaphoric meanings and all their manners of speech and the greater part of their antiqui ties, good and evil.â€ Yet in his exposure to the land and people, the natural world was catalogued as a source of both order and fear. Ã¾ A popular misconception of this period, known as the Spiritual Conquest, i s to see Spanish missionaries as agents of destruction. Figures like Sahagn, however, established great repositories of cultural, political, and medicinal knowledge, thanks largely to the conscription of indigenous informants. Un like Oviedo and Las Casas, Sahagn saw indigenous peoples as potential allies in I m perial Spainâ€™s cosmic mission, but also susceptible underlings to a covert satanic past. Ã¾ La s Casas had already gone to great lengths to invert the traditional con quest narrative into a â€œnaturalist epicâ€ documenting the spiritual treasures to b e r eaped from a greater understanding of the New Worldâ€™s natural order. His work, alongside Sahagnâ€™s collaboration with indigenous scribes, is an evident turning point in the conquest of narrative, as literary and ethnographic sen sibilities converged with distinct civilizational objectives. Sahagn, for ex ample, arrived in the Americas committed to the Churchâ€™s evangelizing mis sion. rough his eorts at conversion in New Spain, however, he developed a n unr ivaled catalogue of cultural, religious, linguistic, and social practices in Aztec society that culminated in the renowned Florentine Codex (fbbâ€“fbr), which aimed to counsel colonial authorities in the proper ways to indoctrinate indigenous peoples, but occasioned a more dynamic legacy. Ã¾ As he strived to understand the world of the Nahua people, Sahagn devel o ped one of the rst systematic ethnographies aimed at dierentiating between
practices that were amenable to the Christian faith and those inextricable from satanic innuence. Yet paradoxically, the work was only possible through the shared knowledge of indigenous conscripts who, together with Sahagn, com piled one of the most comprehensive indigenous accounts of the New Worldâ€™s C o nquest. In the Codex , Sahagn and his informants develop a natural history employing Aztec knowledge of the Valley of Mexico prior to the arrival of Spanish conquerors. Much like his eorts to compare and reconcile existing Nahua religious practices with central rites of Christianity, Sahagnâ€™s natural history blends indigenous methods of collection with the growing emphasis on textual evidentiary standards emerging in Spanish natural history. His eorts, moreover, represent a surprisingly ambivalent appropriation of indigenous lo cal knowledge and belief systems. Ã¾ a t these moments of cultural miscegenation occurred in the interest of religious conversion should not be understated. Similarly, the notorious In quisitor Diego de Landa, known for the cataloguing and subsequent destruc tion of thousands of Mayan codices, books, and other documents, also plays an im p ortant role in the evolution of natural history. While it is dicult to situate de Landa in the naturalist tradition, his role in the Spiritual Conquest fullls a contrapuntal position to Sahagn, similar to that discussed above between Las Casas and Oviedo. Charged with the task of uncovering and destroying heretical documents, de Landa wrote of Mayan society well aer its collapse; these writings became one of the few remaining records le in the aermath of the conquest. According to Anthony Pagden, what we nd in de Landa is not just the zealous missionary eager to destroy indigenous culture, but also â€œan assiduous chronicler of Indian aairsâ€; his example portrayed â€œan important stage in the history of the relationships between the friars and their Indian charges, between the ancient Indian peoples of America and their European conquerors.â€ What we therefore see in de Landa is the darker side of natural history as an imperial strategy. Ã¾ e p articipation of Spanish missionaries in the mutual destruction and conservation of naturalist data also points to larger inconsistencies in the early deployment of empire. Making sense of the political realities on the ground required taking stock of the great diversity of oral, written, and archival knowl edge on the New World; doing so also meant identifying indigenous scholarly a t titudes and practices to legitimate further expeditions. Sahagnâ€™s work was thus an act of great creativity and boldness, as he found himself likely adopt ing more of the indigenous cosmology he was supposed to extirpate than what li k ely sat comfortably with imperial authorities. Ã¾ e a nthropological ethos born out of Sahagnâ€™s eorts, hence achieved
r two lasting transformations in the study of natural history. First, it formalized the exotic character of Amerindian society and nature in a systematic eort to know how to control all sources of subversive knowledge. In his anthropologi cal system, Sahagn separated Amerindian cultures from the natural world, c o ntributing to a vision of nature itself as bifurcated. Herein is the second transformation: as nature came to represent a source of order (such as in the geographic knowledge the Nahuas oered Sahagn), it also became a source of fear, representing the seductive and degenerative qualities Spaniards inferred would destroy them. Ã¾ In addi tion to the â€œConstitutive Narrativesâ€ from which these conceptions of the New World were born, how these narratives were juxtaposed by Spanish natural historians in the framing of an imperial project reveals natural historyâ€™s political nature. Sahagnâ€™s Florentine Codex , for instance, is indispensable as it espouses both great contextual and ethnographic detail, as well as betrays a distinctly imperial normative agenda. Hence this second moment in the evo lution of Spanish natural history saw the appropriation and transformation of in dig enous empirical frameworks into objects to be destroyed, but also found insights deemed worthy of conserving. Sahagnâ€™s observations increasingly formed part of a practice of demonology: the study of the supernatural by way of allegedly occult practices and rituals. While there is no doubt that Sahagnâ€™s eorts were part of the broader goal of destroying idolatry and facilitating reli gious conversion, his eorts to conserve some kinds of indigenous sources be ts speculation. Indeed, the subsequent events following Sahagnâ€™s encounter w i th indigenous conceptions of nature may reveal how the â€œNarrative Eectsâ€ of natural history were taken up politically. Ã¾ Fo r Sahagn (and later, the Jesuit Jos de Acosta), the collection of indig enous rituals was meant to cra eld guides for what future generations of im p erial agents might expect to nd on the ground as colonization (and con version) expanded. Some practices were more tolerated than others and it took a particular ethnographic judgment to determine which were more suit able. For another set of explorers and surveyors, data collection was part of un der standing how to survive in an entirely alien world. Beyond conversion, imperial agents were interested in managing people, ideas, and resources. With no anthropological data on how best to do this, chroniclers and colonizers would be le without any conceptual mooring. Worse yet, they would be free to blatantly pillage and destroy. New World nature may have been originally perceived as a source of turmoil, but Spaniardsâ€™ long-term survival depended on reconciling how indigenous peoples lived in the past with the emergence of a new political order.
f Constitutive Narrative : Naturalist Dissonancee last generation of natural historians I consider faced dierent political circumstances than their predecessors. Despite their proximity to the seats of imperial and colonial power, Francisco Hernndez and Jos de Acosta each le behind disparate intellectual legacies. For both, exploration of the American landscape provided an unprecedented opportunity for the testing of philo sophical assumptions prevalent in Europe since the Ancient Greeks. As natural hi s tory was a vehicle for intellectual exploration, it was also a formal venue to properly inform the theological ends of empire. But like Las Casas and Sahagn before them, Hernndez and Acosta aimed to get a personal sense of the Amerindians and their environments. Ã¾ e J esuit natural historian Jos de Acosta, for example, is primarily known for having raised one of the most important challenges to the ideological domi nance of Scholastic philosophy on purely empirical grounds. As the master di s course of Medieval Europe, Scholasticismâ€™s authority rested on St. omas Aquinasâ€™s synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology. While theology and philosophy are considered separate elds of inquiry today, Acos taâ€™s mastery of experiential, biblical, and philosophical knowledge pushed the limi ts o f what Scholastic thought could achieve. His ambitious Historia Natural y Moral de Las Indias (fbr) innuenced explorers, theologians, and natural phi losophers in the Americas and Europe alike. Yet as Caizares-Esguerra points o u t, Acostaâ€™s writings are singled out today more as the work of an ethnogra pher and a geographer than of a natural philosopher interested in both the me chanics and purpose of things. e kind of work he inaugurated, however, was n o les s than an attempt at â€œmodifying dominant narratives of marvels . . . con stantly [seeking] to frame natural phenomena and the seeming inversion of p h ysical laws in the Indies with a discourse of providential design and lawful regularities.â€ Ã¾ Acosta framed his criticism of dogmatic conceptions of natural law and cosm ological order on the experiential basis of Spanish cosmographers, who in their exploration of the Americasâ€™ landscape pioneered a form of understanding both ethnographic and nationalistic. More specically, Acosta was part of a lin e o f scholars who shied attention from studying nature as an object of unchanging laws subject to classical interpretations, to a realm that demanded thoughtful redescription and informed classication. Speaking of the scales used to weigh silver, for instance, Acosta writes how â€œit is a delicate job and requires great skill, which Divine Scripture also mentions in dierent places to indicate how God tests his chosen and to take note of the dierences and
merits and worths of souls . . . which is the proper activity of the spirit of God, who weighs the souls of men.â€ Ã¾ Among the naturalist predecessors Acosta admired was the Imperial doctor F rancisco Hernndez, who was appointed to lead a massive botanical expedi tion that would cost him much anguish, money, and hard-earned prestige. A l though less prone to theological aspirations, perhaps no other Spanish natu ralist of the sixteenth century could amass as many botanical catalogues as H er nndez did, particularly having relied so heavily on indigenous sources and practices. In the scant seven years it was ocially sanctioned, the Hernndez Expedition (fbrâ€“) arguably collected more empirical and ethnographic data on the natural environments of New Spain than all previous attempts com bined. In fbr, both men were sent to the New World under dierent auspices: H er nndez was appointed as protomedico (physician-in-chief) by King Philip II to head an ambitious natural expedition in the wide valleys and mountains of New Spain; Acosta was sent as head of the Jesuit mission in Peru, and chair of theology at the University of Lima, to document the religious challenges that Jesuit missionaries faced in the conquered, but never truly subdued, Peruvian highlands. e two menâ€™s expeditions were meant to compile very similar re ports for the monarchy, yet their ndings brought them unique empirical and p o litical challenges. Ã¾ Hernndezâ€™s work was never published in his lifetime due to many personal, p olitical crises in New Spain as well as Europe. On the other hand, Acosta pub lished his ndings as a missionary eld manual that, in its philosophical scope a t le ast, far surpassed Hernndezâ€™s work. While Acosta has been increasingly regarded as an example of the Renaissance spirit of scientic inquiryâ€”a natural philosopher interested in making sense of Amerindian culture, history, and the whole earthâ€”Hernndezâ€™s credentials as a humanist and exemplary proponent of the Spanish Renaissance have long been celebrated, yet mostly as a botanist. eir work gained political prominence, however, in an imperial culture that relied on empirical information of the elements and properties of natural re sources to supplement its material power. Hernndezâ€™s mission, though medi cal in nature, served to initiate the empireâ€™s eorts at a systematized catalogue o f in digenous pharmacological knowledge. Acostaâ€™s writings on minerals and their distribution across the earth were also used by miners who sought to pat ent tools, gadgets, and testing practices. is attention to utility was one of the dimensions that shaped their distinct political trajectories. Ã¾ As Hernndez noted in a poem to his friend the philologist Arias Montano, there were many in New Spain and across the empire who did not view his task with much approval. â€œere are those who snap at my heels,â€ he wrote, â€œand
spread the poison of envy, who try to damn my innocuous labors, which they will not see, orâ€”if they read themâ€”even understand.â€ King Philip IIâ€™s wan ing interest in natural science can be attributed to the ability of Hernndezâ€™s en emies t o successfully loosen natural historyâ€™s grasp on the empireâ€™s political imagination. ough Hernndez never gave many clues as to the identity of his detractors, his confessions do reveal that he returned to Spain a hopeful, but broken man. Ã¾ My o wn contention, which I will argue further in chapter , is that Hernn dez is a primary illustration of the complex relationship between scientic k n owledge and state power emerging out of the early modern period. By Hernndezâ€™s time, natural historians had garnered signicant ideological and political innuence in the empireâ€™s courts. Yet increasing disagreements over the future course of the empireâ€”coupled with the growing costs of war against other European powersâ€”saw the study of natural history fall out of favor as a political priority. Spainâ€™s culture of state secrecy kept sensitive information on the New Worldâ€™s resources locked away. Some argue that such secrecy is the source of Hernndezâ€™s relative obscurity outside of historians of Imperial Spain. His case documents a radical break in the empireâ€™s political narrative, whereby natural history is transformed from a mounting intellectual force into an instrumental economic activity. e study of New World nature was thus not a mere scholarly pastime, but rather a debate over the premises on which the so-called Spanish Empire should be built. Ã¾ As B arrera-Osorio points out, though men like Hernndez, and particularly Acosta, were convinced that â€œthe study of nature led to the understanding of the order of nature and, in turn, to the glorication of God,â€ their wider inter pretive eld included a larger network of ocials, chroniclers, and merchants, a l l eager to make sense of the Great Book of Nature for their own interests. Indeed, both Hernndez and Acosta posited a picture of the New World that was sensitive to its distinct cultural and biological diversity, as well as espoused a kind of naturalist theology against the alleged presence of demonic forces in the landscape. eir writings lay the groundwork for an experimental concep tion of science based on observation and a kind of political ethnology, where g r eater observation of the New Worldâ€™s people could serve to better accom modate future colonial expansion. Ã¾ Yet t his was not a fully conscious project. Written toward the ends of their lives, Hernndez and Acostaâ€™s works are the product of connicting sentiments. A kind of naturalist dissonance emerges in their texts, between the potential cognitive and material riches the New World oered and the conceptual chal lenges it posed to the empireâ€™s ideological objectives. Despite their dierent
positions, both menâ€™s works were picked up by political theorists and scientists across the continent, giving rise to numerous debates on the value of Spanish contributions to modern scientic inquiry. Ã¾ Pa rticularly important in Hernndez and Acostaâ€™s accounts of New World nature were the eects of the natural environment on the faculty of judgment. e novelty of the New World not only generated great pleasure, but it appealed to the exquisite perceptions and judgments of Spaniards whom Hernndez and Acosta deemed critical to the development of a broader imperial ethos. us the great empirical contributions of Spanish natural history oered a new, though contentious, narrative layer in the emergence of sixteenth-century im perial science. Ironically, the great intellectual and political glory that Spain s o ught carried within it the seeds of its future scientic demise. Ã¾ Des pite their radically dierent trajectories, both the Hernndez Expedition and the Historia Na t ural arrived at an important conclusion: the New Worldâ€™s natural landscapes represented a Great Book from which Imperial Spain could learn. Hernndez may have been politically positioned to take the study of natural history to greater heights. His failure, however, came as a result of changing geopolitical circumstances, not lack of sound reasoning. Study of the natural sciences took a secondary role to the greater need to document available resources. Acosta relied on a dierent kind of audience to communicate his ndings. Tasked with cataloguing and devising the most eective ways of uprooting indigenous idolatry, the more Acosta explored the environments of the Americas, the less sanguine he became about the ability of classical and biblical sources to account for the New Worldâ€™s di versity. e Historia Na t ural captures this dissonance, as Acosta outlines a simultaneously empirical and theological framework for the study of natural philosophy. Full of observations on the myriad nora, fauna, and societies of the New World, the work explicitly promotes the interpretation of nature as a Great Book. e result is an incomplete, though revolutionary, call to bring faith into communion with science.Reconstructing the World of Natural HistoryWhile histories of the Scientic Revolution and Enlightenment locate the maturation of natural history and natural philosophy under the purview of canonical gures such as Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and Alexander von Humboldt, my goal so far has been to demonstrate that Spanish missionary naturalists hold an equally indispensable place at the crucible of modern sci ence. Spanish natural historians had been some of the rst European thinkers t o co mpare the social and mental development of the New and Old Worlds. Yet
b aer having developed the narrative strategies to explain New World nature, their contributions were conquered by the preconceptions of Enlightenment progress. Yet as Karen Stolley has pointed out, â€œFor Spanish America the past has oen served as a discursive key to an identity that dierentiates Spanish America from its European component. In that discursive process,â€ she main tains, the region â€œoccupies an intermediate zone between making and denying di er ence, between America and Europe, and between the evocation of a past and an evolving future.â€ Ã¾ Although Stolley was writing about the eighteenth centuryâ€”rife as it was w ith a revival of naturalistic inquiry of equally global proportionsâ€”the same story is oen said about Spanish exploration in the sixteenth century. inkers outside of Spain, this narrative suggests, revolutionized scientic inquiry by overcoming the religious superstition and intellectual subservience to ecclesi astical authority characteristic of Spanish learned circles. Yet if we empirically co n sider Spainâ€™s position in the burgeoning intellectual cultures of the early modern era, there are at least three legacies worth recounting to further contest this narrative. Ã¾ Firs t, as the unchallenged military power of the sixteenth century, Spain ex plored vast stretches of land and sea unknown to European eyes. Many of the empireâ€™s rst geographic missions across the Americas accumulated numer ous surveys of administrative and indigenous knowledge of the New Worldâ€™s l a nds. ese surveys, known as relaciones geogrcas, generated a wealth of data that the empire used to distribute administrative, commercial, and strate gic resources. Ã¾ Second, as a highly diused territorial empire, Spanish subjects in the N ew World oen held competing material interests and political agendas. Merchants and missionaries traversed the same spaces in search of resources to exploit and souls to save. Yet one of the diculties encountered by con temporary historians of the sixteenth century is the lack of published mate rial illustrating these competing interests. Royal missions were sanctioned to produce reports meant only for the monarchyâ€™s eyes, limiting the circula tion of the many ndings and recommendations for encountering the New W o rld. Even self-published works required royal approval, though these were also oen censored by regulatory and conservative tribunals such as the In quisition, as the cases of Sahagn and Hernndez will illustrate below. In spite o f s uch institutional constraints, Spanish chronicles were nevertheless highly coveted in early modern Europe. Indeed, new literary genres conveying the utopian character of the Americasâ€”from travelogues, to conquest narra tives, and especially reports of scientic expeditionsâ€”captured the imagina -
t tion of learned criollos and peninsulares alike, all emerging from the eorts to document the multiple testimonies claiming New World experience. Ã¾ ird, and nally, natural historians were the rst to test the potential rami c ations of science as a public endeavor in the New World. As Mauricio Nieto O l arte has noted, the eld was fundamental in developing â€œa medium to build a domesticated nature and a colonized humanity.â€ Although â€œscienceâ€ was regarded as a handmaiden to Imperial Spain, early naturalistic concepts and practices such as ethnology, biogeography, apothecaries, and cosmology were upheld by their proponents as the empirical backbone on which the Spanish monarchy could strengthen its moral claims over the Americas. Ã¾ Yet as I show in the following chapters, crisis and ideological dissonance co lor much of natural historyâ€™s political trajectory. e study of natural his tory was presented by the missionary writings I engage as a central tenet of im p erial conquest, capable of shaping the geopolitical interests of the early Spanish Empire, as well as marking the future contours of European science. e eldâ€™s own trajectory is thus rife with accusations of intrigue, heresy, and controversy. In order to uncover the overlap between the multiple interpretive layers blurring natural historyâ€™s rise and fall, I propose a dierent focus: to treat its practitionersâ€™ missionary ethos as the core of natural historyâ€™s philosophical aspirations. Ã¾ A ke y feature of what I have sought to clarify in this chapter are the links between the spiritual experiences of wonder in early modern natural history and the concrete experiences of nature in the New World. On the one hand, developing proper conceptual frameworks for the study of the natural world in the Americas was part of an eort to naturalize the imperial project. In using the language of the supernatural to couch their ndings, Spanish naturalists rendered the experience of wonder in the New World into an adaptive feature of naturalistic thinking. However, it was also a form of political thinking, for to hypothesize the history of an unknown world meant evaluating its character, in addition to cataloguing its component parts. is represented a wholesale ef fort to rationalize the New Worldâ€™s place within a broader cosmology of Euro pean ascendance, a process I have described through the formation of distinct co n stitutive narratives. Ã¾ St ories and chronicles emerging from these ventures can thus be read as attempts to formalize wonder into a concrete philosophical and political cat egory. e subsequent experience of encountering, understanding, and do mesticating nature was therefore a critical formative moment of the early Span ish Empire that continues to beg for interpretation. rough four contextual p o rtraits of this larger methodological struggle, I aim to make a compelling
case that the sixteenth century in the Americas was replete with theoretical innovationâ€”scientic and political. Each of the authors I prole adapted their ndings to a dominant imperial narrative of cultural appropriation via the use of empirical evidence. In their eorts to recover something beyond the imme diately visible, however, they also nominally shied how that narrative would p u sh the empire forward, putting their eorts into connict with the competing interests of imperial conquest. Ã¾ er e are three implications to this reading of empire, faith, and nature: the rst suggests that human experience in nature is always part of an eort to create values out of the unknown and unfamiliar. Spanish natural history captures both the spirit of modern scientic inquiry and the zealous search for a purpose to human society; it paved the way for an antigrand narrative of modernity and the possibility for greater, though contentious, inclusion of subaltern knowledge. Ã¾ e s econd implication is that nature itself was regarded as a prominent actor in the history of the New World. Spanish natural historians recognized the great innuence that such radically new environments could have on human industry, learning, and particularly religious salvation. eir visions raised im portant political and ethical questions: How were such vast lands unknown f o r so long? What happened to human faculties of judgment in dierent envi ronments? Where did indigenous people come from? ough many of their co n clusions were limited by the political and cultural prejudices of their time, their eorts at social assimilation are nonetheless instructive of the mutual dissonance between nature and society in modernity. Ã¾ La stly, Spanish imperialism was no force for ecological harmonyâ€”far from it. Yet if we see the newness of the New World as a key component of the emer gent forms of political, scientic, and religious governance panning out at the b eg inning of the sixteenth century, a more nuanced portrait of empire as an ideology of cultivation emerges. Among these forms was the possibility of us ing the natural environmentâ€”as a site allegedly imbued with progressive and deg en erative forcesâ€”to trace the destinies of human civilization. As I show in later chapters, millenarian beliefs therefore became strong catalysts for early scientic exploration and their popularity proved threatening to the empireâ€™s economic interests. Ã¾ Ma king sense of the interpretive and political problems natural historians encountered requires not just a trans-Atlantic understanding of environmental history. It also demands an emphasis on the interplay of context, imagination, and experience in politics that narrative approaches to political theory can provide. By focusing on the ways that natural historians situated the study of
New World nature within a broader political narrative of conquest, one can il luminate the ideological motivations of dierent mendicant orders and fellow t ra velers. Such an approach requires overcoming historiographical biases that read early modern history as the secularization of thought away from spiritual concerns. ey also require an attention to the power of stories and the dier ence they made in the making of an imperial nature.
2 ft, , bb ne blind man cannot distinguish colors, nor can one who is absent bear witness to these matters like one who sees them.Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, General and Natural History of the IndiesAll the things that have taken place in the Indies, both since their marvelous discovery and those rst years when Spaniards rst went out to them to remain for some time, and then in the process thereaer down to these our own days, have been so extraordinary and so in no wise to be believed by any person who did not see them, that they seem to have been clouded and laid silence and oblivion upon all those other deeds, however bold and dauntless they might be, that in centuries past were ever seen and heard in this world.Bartolom de Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the IndiesIn a recent essay titled â€œe Dierence at Made Spain, e Dierence at Spain Made,â€ William Eamon argues that Enlightenment critics across Europe could all agree on one thing about Spain: it was dierent. Its dispari ties ranged from barbarism, sloth, and ignorance to despotism, depravity, a n d, ultimately, decline. e sources of its degradation all seemed to coalesce around contrasting notions of disease. But as Eamon puts is, â€œe dierence that was Spain had nothing to do . . . with the character of its people or its supposedly degenerative environment, but instead had everything to do with the most obvious fact about its early modern situation: it possessed the larg est empire the Western world had ever known . . . the rst empire in world hi s tory over which the sun never set.â€ What, then, could Spain add to the
r conversations around science, history, and morality that shaped the Enlight enment? In but a few words: the discovery of the New World and, with it, â€œthe co min g together of scholars and crasmen, the renewed interest in natural history, the emphasis on collecting, and the development of institutions to organize empirical knowledge.â€ Ã¾ In this chapter, I look closer at the narrative origins of the Spanish culture o f discovery by engaging the links between empire and nature in contempo rary political theory. I argue how early natural histories of the New World p r ovided critical insights on colonization, narratives of civilization, and the formation of modern empire that illustrate the dierence that the experience of nature makes in the history of political thought. More than this, Spaniards involved in the cra of natural history created their own conceptions of nature to frame distinct normative agendas. Across the Spanish encounter with the New World, nature was not so much the setting, as it was the means through which modern imperial projects were made possible. Ã¾ Yet des pite sustained attention to the economic, military, and legal dynam ics of imperialism, the â€œimperial turnâ€ in political theory oers no examples o f hi storical engagement with imperial explorations of natural environments. Nature, if at all depicted, is presented as a legal or resource problem. In other instances, nature is a symbolic space used to distinguish the modernizing process from backwardness or barbarism. Such stark distinctions between the earlyand late-modern past leave the impression that the natural envi ronment itself was a secondary concern of great powers such as Spain. Yet as t h e case of natural history shows, the discursive dierence that the writings of early-modern Spanish naturalists make is critical for the history of politi cal thought. Ã¾ As I s how below, the polemical debates over the boundaries of morality, society, and the formation of modern empire convey foundational normative assumptions of early modern political theory. Specically, I turn to the exem plary rivalry between the royal historian Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo and t h e renowned Dominican priest, bishop, and ery â€œProtector of the Indians,â€ Bartolom de Las Casas. ough the two chroniclers dier in their portrayal of American nature as a space of diabolical, or Edenic, qualities, they share a conceit common to Spanish natural history that portrays nature as timeless. Ã¾ To i llustrate these distinct visions, I juxtapose Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de historia natural de las Indias (Summary of the Natural History of the Indies , published in fbt) and Las Casasâ€™s famous polemic, Brevsima relacin de la destruccin de las Indias (An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies ,
f published in fbb) as connicting models of moral restoration. Within a space allegedly frozen in time, the two men turned to natural history as a means to communicate the great potential of the New World to Spanish audiences. For Oviedo, the New World presented an opportunity to relive the grand exploits of Spainâ€™s recent past. What Las Casasâ€™s writings reveal, however, is that although the development of European empire is tied to the material transformation of the New Worldâ€™s natural landscapes, the grounds for that change renect a series of spiritual and empirical connicts. e Spanish Empire, then, does not emerge from mere technological or juristic competition between civilizations; it is tied to the nascent cultural crises that weighed heavily on the ways nature shaped human consciousness. Ã¾ I beg in by returning to Jennifer Pittsâ€™s challenge for political theorists to â€œdeal adequately with the imperial features of the current global order, including the substantial responsibility on the part of the great powersâ€ for contemporary political crises. Striking among the calamities she presents is the challenge of ecological degradation. While Pitts acknowledges that early work on the history of empire began with Spanish debates concerning its imperial legitimacy, subsequent work in the field overlooks the role of nature in these debates. Ã¾ I go on to map the relation between empire and nature in contemporary w ork on the history of early Spanish naturalism. While most of this work is situated in the elds of environmental history and the history of science, there is much that political theorists can contribute, particularly in rethinking the role that New World natural experiences played on early European colonial isms. Turning to these elds broadens Enlightenment metanarratives on the origins of modernity, while carving out a space for rsthand accounts within early modern theories of nature-society interaction. Ã¾ I clos e the chapter by reconstructing the polemical rivalry between Oviedo and Las Casas, both of whom are credited for producing the rst descriptive systems of New World natural history. Pivotal for their interpretive frame works was the experience of American nature as a site of redemptive, para disiacal, and providential design. While such visions of nature seem alien to o ur t ime, particularly as the natural world is no longer deemed either sacred or autonomous, Oviedo and Las Casasâ€™s writings oered European audiences rsthand testimonial of the New Worldâ€™s moral potential. eir participa tion in the greater debate surrounding the formation of Spainâ€™s New World Em p ire establishes a distinctive literary trope I call the naturalist epic. As Anthony Pagden has pointed out, such accounts are crucial to re-evaluating
the eects of the â€œdiscoveryâ€ of America on Enlightenment thought. I would add that a clearer picture of how early modern metanarratives emerged also provides contemporary scholars with a stronger foothold in the polemics of historical writing.The Imperial Moment in Political TheoryAlthough contemporary historians of political thought continue to draw inspi ration from the past and present experiences of Spanish America, most of that a t tention has been focused on examinations of ideology, revolution, or radical democracy. As Jennifer Pitts puts it, when it comes to the question of empire: â€œWhether the subject is canonical political thinkersâ€™ renections on conquest, or the theorization of politics in the postcolonial present, much of the most innovative work, with which political scientists should engage far more than they do, takes place outside the connes of the discipline.â€ To be sure, this emphasis stems from the eldâ€™s own discursive foundations, focusing on how words represent forms of political action. Ã¾ Pittsâ€™s own intervention in framing the political theory of empire and impe r ialism comes at a time when several currents in contemporary theory seek to addr es s the political impasse generated by liberalismâ€™s global dominance and the rediscovery of opposing traditions. Comparative political theory, to give one example, presents itself as a rejoinder to â€œend of historyâ€â€“style narratives proclaiming the imperial and intellectual dominance of Western Liberalism over the rest. e resurgence of empire as a eld of inquiry not only raises questions about the diusion of imperial norms and practices, but also about the understated commonalities between political vocabularies found across British and Spanish America. Having come late to this conversation, political theorists have yet to fully investigate the oen-willing complicity of their ranks with imperial governance, as opposed to elds like Anthropology and History. Re-engagement with these disciplines, Pitts warns, is crucial to maintaining political theoryâ€™s vibrancy, as the eld â€œhas contributed less to the vigorous and signicant scholarly conversation on empire than it might have been expected to do.â€ Such expectations, she holds, stem from the eldâ€™s long-held fascina tion with the sovereign nation-state. Ã¾ As t raditional denitions of the state bend and break through increased global interdependence, the turn toward empire also emerges against the back drop of a long hiatus in international history. e drive to explain both eco nomic and cultural dierences, made more evident now in light of global capi -
talismâ€™s revolution in communications, has prompted a rethinking of where concepts such as dierence, authority, and legitimacy come from. More than this, it has prompted intellectual historians to call into focus the entwined paths of globalization and political thought. Ã¾ Yet even more pertinent to political theory has been the revival of imperial hi story as a central feature of economic, as well as political and cultural, knowl edge. Empire is a concept that straddles both national and international his tory; its primary orientation, however, is global in scope as European-led com merce and conquest have made the world an arguably smaller place. ough t h ere is signicant scholarly disagreement over how consolidated (or accurate) such global orders may be, there is an increasing realization that the history of political thought is itself wrapped up in the material dynamics of imperial order. Ã¾ Much of the eldâ€™s current interest in empire stems from the realization that t he links between â€œextra-European commerce and conquest to the develop ment of European political thought [are] heightened . . . by the active involve ment of key political theorists as legislators or as employees or associates of t radin g companies.â€ Political theorists are not only complicit in the expres sion and defense of an economic or social status quo; they are also guilty of i ts p erpetuation through practices of scholarly legitimation. e implications of such involvement have demanded greater attention to theoristsâ€™ historical, linguistic, and imperial contexts: [A] full understanding of these thinkersâ€™ ideas, as well as the broader traditions to which they contributed, requires attention to imperial and global contexts and concerns. . . . Just as we must understand modern Western constitutional democracy (and international law) as having emerged in an imperial context, so we must understand its exponents in the tradition of political thought, and those of other inherited political forms and concepts, in the same global and impe rial context.Indeed, a turn to empire not only facilitates greater understanding of the origins and deployments of foundational concepts as the result of exchanges from imperial conquest and commerce, it also claries the boundaries and limits of such concepts for our own times. e history of Liberal Imperialism is an important case in point, for example, as historians of political thought have gone to great pains to articulate liberalismâ€™s mutual constitution along side empire.
Ã¾ Key assumptions and tropes of liberalism have been rendered questiona ble in light of their imperial liaisons. Yet despite political theorists having t a ken up the challenge of rethinking liberalismâ€™s relationship to empire, there is no consensus on whether or not this relationship is as universally negative as critics so oen maintain. More specically, there is a signicant degree of ambivalence in current debates within political theory as liberalismâ€™s own complexity has given rise to far more nuanced defenses in its favor. Ã¾ Such complexity is highlighted by Pitts as she frames liberalismâ€™s trajectory a s â€œan always changing ideology whose commitments at any given time result from contingent conjunctures of discourses (for instance, of rights or liberty), interests (such as those of merchants in an emerging commercial society), and institutions (for example, the Bank of England, the East India Company).â€ For Pitts, at stake in the interrogation of liberalism is the emergence of questions about the structures of international law and the prevailing liberal order. e continued disenfranchisement of both native and noncitizen individuals in settler colonial societies points to vibrant debates by political theorists on the limits of Western sovereignty, the overcoming of liberal notions of freedom, and the possibility of coexistence within liberal constitutional structures. And while this work is important and critical to the development of certain forms of Euro-American imperialism, it neglects an alternate dimension to the unraveling of â€œimperial universalismsâ€ made popular by Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the spiritual cultivation of colonial society. Ã¾ Sin ce Anthony Pagdenâ€™s early work almost single-handedly brought the Spanish sixteenth century into the disciplineâ€™s imagination, few political the orists have taken up his challenge for a â€œmuch-needed re-evaluationâ€ of the p er iod. e work of John Pocock may be a singular exception to this as his attempts to reconstruct Edward Gibbonâ€™s e History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire aimed at clarifying the literary and political implications of writing imperial histories. Ã¾ For Pagden and Pocock, the Scottish Enlightenment theory of civilization w ould have been unthinkable without the legacies of Spainâ€™s Empire and the debates surrounding descriptions of the New World. Yet today the terrain remains idle as there is little work on empire concerned with the connicts in c u ltures of knowledge production in the early modern period, most notably concerning Imperial Spain. e problem, then, with political theoryâ€™s turn toward empire does not lie in its stance toward excavating the origins of global inequality or domination. Rather, as Stanley Homan once argued about the
b eld of International Relations, the undisclosed anxiety perhaps lies in its be ing â€œtoo close to the re.â€ Ã¾ As historians of political thought increasingly locate the origins of moder ni tyâ€™s vices within the rise to prominence of liberal empires, a large part of t h e Americasâ€™ past continues to be subsumed into a tale of rational progress and the instrumental transformation of nature. ere is no space for wonder in that story. ere is certainly little to say, moreover, about a concept of na ture stripped of any normative and spiritual power. e fascination over New W o rld nature embodied in Spanish natural history evolved along dierent dis cursive axes, contrasting epistemological visions, and political disputes over t h e proper bases of empirical evidence and moral propriety. is is a story yet to be well told. Ã¾ In the eld of Historical International Relations, for instance, the terrain on which empire, science, and nature have been studied is somewhat less am bivalent. Cultural and social historians have addressed the Spanish Empireâ€™s p l ace within the origins of international law, discourses of civilization, and even the long-revered state of nature. Yet much of this work does not propose a historical re-evaluation of the empireâ€™s trajectories. at is to say, there are attempts to sanitize individuals within the empire that stood out as a result of their resistance to Spanish abuse, or because of their eorts to universalize Spanish rule. Yet historical engagement with how imperial agents perceived and conveyed their missions remains undeveloped. Ã¾ e de arth in historical analysis is, in part, the product of a contemporary bias among political scientists that takes for granted historical changes in the meaning of the term â€œempire.â€ e coordinated expansion of European power that characterized the Scramble for Africa, for example, is a far different project than what Spanish colonizers or British explorers encountered in t h e Americas. As Edward Keene has suggested, the encounter with the Americas â€œhad such a profound impact on sixteenth-century geography and natural science that it is easy to overestimate the extent to which, in itself, it posed a novel problem for theologians and political theorists. . . . e real impact of the discoveryâ€”and, even more importantly, the conquest and col onizationâ€”of the Americas was to force this long-standing issue about how t o co nduct relations with non-Christians into the foreground of theological and political debate.â€ Ã¾ e novelty of the New World brought into relief the inadequate extent to w hich theories of the state and natural law could account for non-Western peoples, as well as vast, unexplored natural landscapes. Many of these short -
t comings have given rise across the centuries to greater degrees of specializa tion in the study of regional, structural, and global modes of governance. It is a r guably that heightened degree of specialization that has generated a lack of interest in the trans-Atlantic history of international political thought. Yet as a space of conquest and domination, the Spanish Atlantic was a testing ground for human and nonhuman conceptions of geopolitical power. As I illustrate below, the degree to which the natural world can be governed may not have been a new concern for early modern scholars, but how nature was conceived had a signicant eect on how to rule future societies.Missionary Science and the Wonder of New World NatureIn his f book, e Fall of Natural Man , Anthony Pagden tells the story of indigenous peoplesâ€™ place in European visions of the Americas. By â€œnatural manâ€ Pagden was not referring to Rousseauâ€™s picture of the noble savage, an ahistorical critic of European morality who in the Enlightenment played the critical function of nipping civil society on its head. Rather, Pagden wanted to focus on the ways indigenous peoples were excluded from the emergent nar rative of civilization, oen portrayed as beings living â€œoutsideâ€ the boundaries o f h uman community. Much of Pagdenâ€™s account is a recovery of the ways that the idea of â€œnatural manâ€ was constructed, diused, and later debunked in scholarly debates across the Iberian world. Yet the crux of Pagdenâ€™s story is in the anthropological roots of â€œnatural manâ€ and his emergence as an object of scientic and philosophical inquiry. Ã¾ Fo rced to remain at the margins of the sixteenth centuryâ€™s intellectual ho rizon, â€œnatural manâ€ was sought for as a fact b y v irtue of his construction in theory ; he was not so much found in nature, as he was described as decient in nature, allegedly lacking the mental faculties of civilized social beings. For Pagden, however, these normative assumptions only told half the story behind justications of Spanish imperialism, demanding a wider inquiry into the em pirical implications of colonizing the Americas. Turning to the early writings o f S panish chroniclers like Las Casas and the Jesuit Jos de Acosta, Pagden sought to highlight a â€œprogram for comparative ethnologyâ€ that, in his mind, oered the necessary framework for interpreting Amerindian history, culture, and conquest in an imperial context. at program is itself rooted in earlier polemics concerned with establishing the political stakes of Spanish rule, as seen in the writings of Oviedo and Las Casas. Ã¾ Bo th Oviedo and Las Casas turned to descriptions of nature as part of a
larger attempt to formalize the experience of wonder they faced and oer ty pologies for the seeming incommensurability informing early Spanish experi ences. Neither of the two men saw a systematic narrative as their intended goal, b u t rather expressed it as a reaction to the limits of the dominant ideology of Scholasticism in making sense of the myriad dierences brought to light by Amerindian life. Ã¾ Largely based on Aristotelian psychology, Scholastic philosophy was con cer ned with the order of things within a highly stratied Christian cosmol ogy. e discovery of the New World threatened to destabilize that cosmol ogy, prompting an important set of disputes that would consume the empireâ€™s le a rned circles. While visions of nature in the Americas were part of larger shis in Spanish exploration, Oviedoâ€™s and Las Casasâ€™s distinct views of nature, wonder, and empirical inquiry brought forth radical implications for the mod ern understanding of science and civilization. In this last regard, my eorts b ui ld on a growing historiographical concern with the intersection of nature, empire, and nation. What is dierent in my eort is the intention of clarifying how Oviedo and Las Casas linked the natural realm they encountered to the ideological landscape they were inextricably a part of. Ã¾ No do ubt exists that the jarring experience of the New World was itself key for the two men, for as Stephen Greenblatt observes, â€œthe experience of wonder continually reminds us that our grasp of the world is incomplete.â€ Yet incom pleteness is more an invitation than it is a sign to stay away, a striking desire s h ared by the early natural historians as men possessed by the larger objectives of their projects. Describing those intentions is not to assess the â€œobjectivityâ€ of their accounts; rather, as Pagden says, it means clarifying â€œthe context of contemporary epistemological concerns with the operations of what the Jesuit Acosta would later call â€˜the machine of the world.â€™â€ Ã¾ My account of the two menâ€™s works begins with outlining how they engage t he writing of the natural landscape of the conquest: What do they say? Where are they situated? To whom do they speak? And why are their audiences rel evant? e context of production in which these works emerged shows how e ac h man inherited (and adapted) dierent aspects of the narrative of conquest for his own purposes. By comparing two of their most renowned worksâ€” Oviedoâ€™s Sumario and Las Casasâ€™s Brevsima relacinâ€” I lay out the broader framework of narrative description they respectively establish. Ã¾ Pr ecisely because of their widespread diusion across the European conti nent, the highly charged visions of the natural world that both works portray des er ve a closer analysis. While scholars have singled out the two works as
examples of the broader shi away from a Scholastic worldview, I am more in terested in what they have to say about the experience of the Americasâ€™ natural l a ndscape and the writing of history more generally. Las Casas, specically, plays a transformative role in his reactions against Oviedo, illustrating how, according to Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œIberians have come to represent the antithesis of modernity,â€ despite their rich portrayal of New World ecologies.Experience and Ethnography in OviedoLooking at the natural histories of Oviedo and Las Casas marks an important rst step in the longer genealogy of the modern empireâ€™s narrative of civiliza tion. According to Tzvetan Todorov, the written text was an important symbol o f t he experience of discovery, particularly as an expression of eyewitness au thority. While Todorov is interested in clarifying how textual referents are in dicative of the larger dynamics of modernity, contemporary scholars of Span ish historiography have gone on to extend this logic to the experience of rising co mm ercial and administrative classes in fundamentally alien landscapes. e Americas were perceived as a laboratory for empirical learning, as much as they were considered a space of salvation, or a site of imperial management. Alongside conquistadors, priests, alchemists, collectors, astrologers, painters, and curious men of letters, Oviedo and Las Casas were among the rst chroni clers of the Americas that brought with them old assumptions about natural hiera r chies, yet developed a new vocabulary for experiential knowledge. Ã¾ In s pite of his reputation as an ideologue of conquest, Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo y Valds, known simply as Oviedo, is considered by literary historians as one of the luminaries of the Spanish Golden Age. Trained in the arts, letters, and sciences of Renaissance Italy while growing up in the peripatetic Castilian courts, Oviedo started his literary career as the composer of chivalric epics and dramas. One epic in particular, entitled Don Claribalte , has garnered some at tention as the â€œrst novelâ€ of the Americas. Ã¾ e story is presented as the translation of a manuscript Oviedo found while t raveling in a ctitious kingdom and recounts the romantic misadventures of a young knight-errant who embodied the political aspirations of Imperial Spain. Yet the work also conveyed Oviedoâ€™s rst attempts to overcome the challenges of craing accurate, historical representations. at Don Claribalte was composed during one of Oviedoâ€™s many sojourns in the New World is no biographical ac cident; nor are the similarities between his heroâ€™s trials and their place in Oviedoâ€™s p et itions for an audience with Charles V mere facts of convenience. As Stephanie
Merrim remarks, the novel is â€œtoo provocative to simply abandon,â€ particularly if regarded as â€œan experiment in varied modes of representation, which with all their naws and failures themselves constitute rich and telling developments.â€ Ã¾ In fb, Oviedoâ€™s eorts tellingly prevailed, and he was appointed by the Em p eror as the ocial royal chronicler of all matters concerning the nora, fauna, a n d peoples of the Indies. His administrative role granted him access to myriad documents nowing in from all over the empire, as well as placed him alongside prominent conquerors, missionaries, chroniclers, and other intellectuals; this included taking part in a public dispute with Bartolom de Las Casas. Indeed, in his role as the empireâ€™s scribe, Oviedo produced what some consider as â€œthe most comprehensive history of the discovery, conquest, and colonization of the Americas from f to fb . . . the most authoritative text on the Americas from the rst half of the sixteenth century,â€ a massive book he titled the Histo ria gen eral y natural de las Indias . ough this work, the rst part of which was published in fbb, cemented Oviedoâ€™s status as the leading natural historian of the early modern period, it was preceded by a smaller, more descriptive text that framed much of his later writings. Ã¾ It wa s not stylistic innovation or breadth that caught the eye of Oviedoâ€™s audiences. Rather, it was his self-professed â€œnew and gallant style of speak ingâ€â€”that is, the adoption of the Castilian language as a tool for the building of co lo nial memoryâ€”that gave Oviedoâ€™s work an innuential place in the history of New World narratives. e Sumario de la Natural Historia de las Indias , commissioned by Charles V in fbt, is in part a framework for Oviedoâ€™s more ambitious Historia general; however, the work also constitutes what Andrs Prieto calls â€œa renection on the problems that arise when the observational and taxonomical conventions used to describe Old World species are imposed upon a new, and hitherto unknown, biological reality.â€ Ã¾ In Oviedoâ€™s reading of the New Worldâ€™s natural landscapes, there is more t han just a novel subject matter. Ever since the Reconquista , the intertwining of faith and territorial expansion served as the backdrop of much Spanish ex ploration, even while the newness of the Americas raised challenges to the his torical and religious preconceptions of European colonizers. Oviedoâ€™s work emerged in this interplay of narrative forces as an attempt to bridge factual documentation with the need for an imperial program. In this regard, the writ ing of history played a prominent political role in making the royal chronicler a k in d of master narrator. Ã¾ Wh at Oviedo oered in his Sumario was a rethinking of the relationship between history and empire through the medium of naturalistic observation.
br e strategies Oviedo employed to achieve this transformation were a result of what Pagden calls the â€œproblem of recognition,â€ whereby the lack of inter changeable categories to make sense of New World novelties led Spanish observers to â€œclassify and describe what they recognized to be unfamiliar in w h at they saw.â€ Oviedo had already spent many years in the New World traveling, surveying, and assessing the many uses of natural resources. ough he claims to have written the book from memory, his attention to geographic, navigational, and naturalist detail renect assiduous training. rough his drawings of fa n tastic creatures, appeals to his own eyewitness experience, and the melding of both the monstrous and the natural through the construction of memory, Oviedo sought to cultivate a strange canvas for a new kind of audience. Many of the things Oviedo describes within the Sumario â€”from the iguana to the horseshoe shape of the American continentâ€”renect the earlier dilemmas of representation Oviedo rst encountered in Don Claribalte when he attempted to convincingly describe things and events that seemed unreal. Ã¾ ro ughout the Sumario , where Oviedo lacks the words to describe what he sees, he oers visual sketches that help portray what he is encountering. In one famous example, he describes his perplexed position on the iguana, an animal both terrestrial and aquatic in its behavior, as â€œuncertain if they are animal or sh, because they go about in the water and in the trees and by land, and they have four feet, and they are larger than rabbits, and they have an alligatorâ€™s tail, and the skin is all painted . . . and by the spine they have pointed spikes and sharp teeth and fangs.â€ e attention to detail aside (see gure f), Oviedo attempts here to compare the iguana to all kinds of animals familiar to Euro pean taxonomies: sh, rabbits, and alligators are all used as examples to convey t h e various folk-taxonomies that Oviedo was surely familiar with through his training in Renaissance natural history. Ã¾ Hi storians have interpreted the equivocal stance on the iguana, and several other examples that Oviedo describes, as expressions of his dissatisfaction with simply transposing those European taxonomical systems to the New World. However, that Oviedo does not know how to place the iguana within a dis crete taxonomy (that is, as reptile, mammal, or sh) is not what I nd relevant. R a ther, what is innovative is his attempt to overcome the limits of naturalistic description by way of what Kathleen Myers calls a â€œvisual epistemology.â€ As Myers describes it, Oviedoâ€™s illustrations of the New Worldâ€™s exotic specimens â€œremind the reader that the author experiences the apprehension of the new and communicates that personal experience and process to the reader so that he may participate in it and understand it.â€
Figure f. Iguana, Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias (Seville, fbb). Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
b Ã¾ e self-assurance that colors both Oviedoâ€™s style and his approach to the Sum ario , no matter how seemingly innocuous or incommensurate, is indica tive of his vast documentation of the New Worldâ€™s plant and animal life, but a l so the vast spirit of inquiry that gures like Oviedo attempted to embody. As Antonello Gerbi describes him, however, Oviedoâ€™s motivations were not just to serve, but to have his works regarded as classics, like the Ancient Greek and Roman natural histories: [Oviedoâ€™s] attitude to the physical nature of America is what we might expect from an unprejudiced but not ingenuous observer, from a gied â€˜dilettanteâ€™ enamored of his material, happy to rediscover nature, not only mentally, in tune with the general movement of the Renaissance, but con cretely, in lands hitherto unknown; to be able to emulate Pliny and at the s a me time render him eternal homage in becoming himself, proudly and enthusiastically, the Pliny of the lands across the ocean.Yet it was not Oviedoâ€™s strictly naturalistic descriptions that were polemical among his contemporaries. Rather, it was his approach to representing the New Worldâ€™s environments and indigenous peoples that raised objections among other communities of scholars documenting the New Worldâ€™s contents. roughout many of his later works, Oviedo oscillated back and forth over his role as a historian: was he to merely collect samples of the New Worldâ€™s many wonders, or was the thing that warranted documentation the very experiences he claimed to have, hold, and narrate for others to enjoy? Ã¾ Wr iting to Charles V in the dedicatory preface to the Sumario , Oviedo ex plains how: â€œe thing that best preserves and sustains the works of nature in t h e memory of mortals are the histories and books in which they are found written.â€ His initial claim of writing the Sumario from memory, given his escape from political events in Panama, therefore served two functions: rst, of establishing an experiential basis for natural knowledge, but second, and more specically, to dierentiate the textual authority of Old World ways of knowing from New World ways of living. As Andrs Prieto outlines, there is nothing innocent or modest about that juxtaposition, especially as an objective of colonization: Written for the benet of the Empire by an Imperial agent, the Sumario changes the location of knowledge from Europe to America by con stantly predicating that knowledge on the memory of colonial experience . . . the Sumario p l aced both knowledge and authority not in the Imperial metropolis, but in the Colonial periphery, claiming pre -
b cedence over the works written in Spain by armchair scholars . . . its aim was not to present a collection of already known facts, but instead to present new facts and knowledge about a hitherto unexplored part of the world.Such facts were needed to build a historical record from which future readers could retain the memory of conquest and establish a new society. By contrast to Oviedo, the Dominican Fray Bartolom de Las Casas is famously known as the most vocal defender of Amerindians in the New World. He was also a ferocious critic of Spanish colonial violence, and his legacy on that front is best captured by the ocial title granted to him as â€œProtector of the Indians.â€ From that position, Las Casas endeavored to institute a dierent kind of colonial project.Polemics and Possession in Las CasasLas Casas had been a colonizer of the island of Hispaniola as the son of a Spanish encomendero (a work grant title, or ocial overseer of a cadre of indigenous laborers) and also took part in the â€œpacicationâ€ of the islandâ€™s Taino natives. He renounced his territorial holdings upon being ordained a Dominican priest in fbfr and took the Taino massacre as his moral point of departure. ough Las Casasâ€™s work has been the subject of great scholarly and political debate, no doubt exists that he was, in Antonello Gerbiâ€™s famous formulation, â€œa man possessed by an ide xeâ€ â€” the inherent moral superior ity of the New Worldâ€™s indigenous peoples. e dispute between Las Casas and Oviedo therefore rested on more than just historiography or royal innu ence: it established rival traditions of interpretation concerning indigenous c u ltures and dierent responsibilities for the historical interpreter in the face of an alien natural context. Ã¾ Las Casasâ€™s Brevsima relacin , a small manifesto and perhaps the most em blematic of his many texts, has been deemed the inaugurator of what is called t h e Black Legend and is considered one of the most widely translated texts in modern history. And while the Brevsima relacin is regarded as a vivid denun ciation of Spanish atrocities in the Americas, it is less known for its utopian des cr iptions of the natural landscape of the Americas. More specically, the Brevsima relacin paints a portrait of the Americas that is both fantastic and prophetic, taking stock of the New Worldâ€™s wonders, as well as outlining a role for the historian in terms of capturing its signicance. Las Casas frames the natural and human landscape of the New World as a kind of untouched Eden
b through which Europeans can rediscover Christian natural right and exercise a new program of civilization. Many of his anecdotes and descriptions of the natural world are coupled with descriptions of the Amerindians in its midst. In his introduction to the text, for example, he describes Terra Firma and its peoplesâ€™ celestial character: Terra Firma, which lies at its nearest point two hundred y leagues dis tant . . . possesses a sea-coast of above ten thousand leagues discovered (a n d more is discovered everyday), all lled as though the land were a beehive of people. . . . And so it would appear that God did set down upon those lands the entire multitude, or greatest part, of the entire hu man lineage. A l l these universal and innite peoples a toto genero, God created to be a simple people, altogether without subtlety, malice, or duplicity, ex cellent in obedience, most loyal to their native lords and to the Christians w h om they serve; the most humble, most patient, meekest and most pa cic, slowest to take oence and most tranquil in demeanor, least quar relous, least querulous [sic ], m os t lacking in rancor or hatreds or desire for vengeance of all the peoples of the earth.No doubt seems to exist in Las Casasâ€™s mind that whatever connicts emerged from the encounter, the peoples of the Americas were the least responsible for them. It was simply not in their nature, or that of the landscape, to induce harm or quarrel. e Amerindian lifestyle and behavior contrasted so radically with the Spaniards (who had come to see the natural environment for its monetary and instrumental uses) that Las Casas at times even suggests that Spanish colo nizers were unworthy of having discovered the New World at all. Writing on t h e conquest of Yucatn, he outlines the conquistadorsâ€™ ravenous indierence to the healing character of the continentâ€™s verdant lands: is kingdom of Yucatn was lled with innite numbers of people, for it is land in great measure healthful and abundant with food and fruits (even more than the land of Mxico) and particularly abounding in honey and wax above any other part of the Indies that has so far been seen. . . . e people of said kingdom were notable among all those of the Indies, both in prudence and policy and in their lack of vices and sins more than others, and very t and worthy to be brought to the knowledge of the Spaniardsâ€™ God, and their land a t place where there could be made great cities of Spaniards and they might live in them as though in an earthly paradise, were they worthy of itâ€”but they were not, because of their covetousness
bb and greed and insensibility and great sins, as they have been unworthy of the many other parts that God had shown them in those Indies.Las Casas is appealing to several audiences here. First, the Brevsima relacin was initially intended and dedicated to Charles Vâ€™s son, the prince Philip II, aimed at convincing the monarchy of the violent and irresponsible behavior of Spanish colonizers. Las Casasâ€™s attempt is credited for the passing of the New Laws of fb (which led to the formal abolition of native slavery) and the infamous Debate at Valladolid (fbbrâ€“fbbf) between Las Casas and the noted jurist Gins de Seplveda. More on Las Casas and Seplvedaâ€™s debate will be said below, particularly since at the heart of their disagreement lay a crucial dierence in their interpretation of human nature and the character of the American environment. Ã¾ Yet in ad vocating for the New Laws one can also see Las Casasâ€™s intent in describing the Americas as a fruitful place for the emperor to take tutelage of indigenous peoples, a kind of space of salvation where, as he noted above, â€œthere could be made great cities of Spaniards and they might live in them as though in an earthly paradise.â€ Ã¾ Whi le addressing the ramications of the conquestâ€™s violence on Spanish souls, Las Casas also sought to curry favor to institute his own brand of paci cation through conversion. As Santa Arias writes, Las Casasâ€™s rhetoric has a do u ble character to it: â€œgrounded in spatial interrelations where the methods of aggression in one place innuenced other spaces as colonialism extended throughout in the hemisphere,â€ he was able to generate â€œa polemical debate about the consequences of empireâ€ while at the same time never denouncing the colonizing project. ough he was schooled in omistic natural phi losophy, Las Casasâ€™s vision of the Americas is more oen framed in terms of hi s o wn experience of revelation, rather than his intellectual upbringing. Ã¾ On thi s point, both Oviedo and Las Casas share the use of their own ex periences as the foundation of a new way to interpret Amerindian practices a n d the New Worldâ€™s natural realities. Whereas Oviedo used the medium of eyewitness testimony to conrm Spanish prejudices, Las Casas began to break away from these traditions by emphasizing empirical observation as a vehicle of vindication. What Las Casas maintained over Oviedo was to link the world he encountered with the future, not the past, of the Spanish imperial imagina tion. What kind of a New World were Spanish colonizers interested in build ing? More specically, through his translation of the narrative of conquest into a k in d of naturalist epic, Las Casas took what seemed like an alien world and rendered its natural history as the foundation for a future human story.
bt The Naturalist Epic as New Horizon of InterpretationIn his Brevsima relacin , Las Casas oers an account of the Americas rife with utopian references to the New Worldâ€™s â€œinnite landsâ€ and â€œuniversalâ€ peoples, while simultaneously advocating for an anti-imperial agenda against perpetrators he saw as less human than those they attacked. Las Casas, however, also s a w colonization as an opportunity for regenerating Spanish moral sensibili ties in the wake of the conquestâ€™s violence and the changing material culture o f m odernity. e power of Las Casasâ€™s account lay in its relational morality: in the context of building an empire, many feared that great violence and evil would eventually contaminate Spaniards themselves. Ã¾ e p erceived cultural, biological, and environmental incommensurability of the Americas, particularly in relation to anything previously experienced in Europe, came to renect recurring myths of unstable realities. e stories ran a wide gamut: such a land of vast wonders could only be the result of weakened judgment and alienation from God on the part of European settlers; the alleged superiority of the Amerindians as a people â€œuntouchedâ€ threatened the basis on which Spainâ€™s Empire had so far been enacted; Spain had been chosen to make sense of the New World, to understand and explain, so as to make sense of its own development; failure to change the terms under which conquest was enacted would alter the trajectory of the empire and create a world upsidedown for both colonizer and colonized. Ã¾ In s uch a transitional realm of narratives and counternarratives, Pagden tells us, â€œrepresentation, the creation of mental images through language, could never be an adequate means of making the â€˜otherâ€™ fully intelligible.â€ e lack of lived-experience of the place was therefore thought to be the primary source of the Spaniardâ€™s representational dilemma, prompting the need for a radically experiential framework that could accurately account for what the New World contained and signied. For those rooted in the older, Scholastic tradition, the Americas presented a signicant interpretive problem: there were no â€œtextsâ€ for interpretation to be found. Las Casas, by focusing on â€œthe primacy of rsthand experience,â€ became the second major exponent (aer Oviedo) of a tradition of writing that saw representation as a â€œnecessary relation between the cognitive status of text and experience.â€ Facts of experience could themselves be read as texts, making ethnographic exploration itself an expression of authority. e dierence with Oviedoâ€™s approach lay in the cosmic moral order at stake, not the mere establishment of colonial memory; the result is a naturalist epic with ambitious spiritual goals and, as I will show in later chapters, dangerous political liaisons.
b Ã¾ Las Casasâ€™s â€œconversionâ€ from colonizer to priest best captures this new way o f understanding text and experience constituting the naturalist epic. In fbfr, he was denied communion by a group of Dominican friars who arrived in His paniola and denounced the atrocities attributed to the encomienda sys t em. Las Casasâ€™s attention was particularly captured by the ery sermons of Antonio de Montesinos, who dramatized the experience of Spanish injustice through his reading of Ecclesiasticus :fâ€“. For Las Casas, the verses were a text that â€œmade sense of what he had seen, but [also] what his blinded eyes had never allowed him to â€˜witnessâ€™ for years,â€ forcing him to reread his earlier acts as part of a larger interpretation of conquest and empire. Ã¾ Las Casas was prompted to rethink the texts and logic of ancient authori t ies (particularly Aristotleâ€™s natural philosophy) as a means of advocating for t h e human status of the Amerindians. Las Casasâ€™s conception of natural law was born out of his immersion into the American experience, a process he deemed necessary to faithfully relate the facts on the ground (that is, provide a relacin ). e coupling of â€œnatural lawsâ€ with â€œnatural textsâ€ oered a new approach to understanding the relationship between analogical interpretations of the New World (such as Oviedoâ€™s) and the moral wonders raised by the study of natural history. Ã¾ La s Casasâ€™s work is therefore two-fold: he oers a basis for interpretation and engages in a renection on the historianâ€™s task to â€œgive clarity and certainty for readers of ancient things . . . the principles which have been discovered about the machine of this world.â€ Yet at work in the Brevsima relacin is the same link between a subjective â€œIâ€ and the physical eye through which documentation must happen. Las Casas, at least initially, suers from the same epistemology of possession as Oviedo. Experience, particularly through its articulation as a form of authority, was not meant to replace hermeneutics. Rather, experience alone was touted as the appropriate basis of interpretation and only the presence of the historian in the natural landscape of the Americas could establish both textual and moral authority. ere was not much room in this vision for those not versed in this new science of interpretation. Ã¾ Mos t of the narrative transformation that the Brevsima relacin heralds was a dramatic and polemical one, so much so that in order to cleanse his account of ulterior political intent, Las Casas framed his rhetorical nour ishes through the caveat of â€œmerelyâ€ being an eyewitness. His new vocabu laryâ€”one among many precursors to â€œnew philosophiesâ€ sprouting across Eu r opeâ€”ran against the vocabulary of conquest employed by the likes of Corts and Bernal Daz de Castillo, through which Spanish conquistadors had positioned their actions as if against the â€œindelsâ€ who had overrun
b Christian lands in Europe. It also challenged the way Oviedo established a new canvas for the empire to position itself. Las Casas had sought to bring the colonization of the Americas into accountability by opposing Spainâ€™s lexi con of natural and civilizational hierarchy. Rather than reading the Amer indians as the analogue of Europeâ€™s pastâ€”a backward land in need of moral, m a terial, and intellectual developmentâ€”Las Casas sought to familiarize the Amerindians to Europeansâ€™ modern (that is, temporal) sensibilities. In Las Casasâ€™s mind, the Americas came to represent the prehistory of European modernity, an opportunity for Spaniards to get the project of society right, both for the Amerindianâ€™s sake as well as theirs. Ã¾ Bu t what then does one make of Las Casasâ€™s approach to natural history? Scholars have long recognized that a central dilemma in Las Casasâ€™s work is his reliance on an authoritative and quasi-solipsistic notion of lived-experi ence. He oers no other voices than his own; he gives no sense of the temporal co nn ections between indigenous society prior to the encounter, at the time of conquest, or during the emergence of the colony; he even fails to provide an outline from which his kind of inquiry could be re-enacted or reproduced to create the interpretive model (both at the level of writing history and empire) he employs. With Las Casas, one is le wondering how such a biased, personal, and yet systematically diligent vision was able to coexist in a context that was allegedly intolerant of dissent and a scholarly community that was purportedly backward and unscientic. Ã¾ No t everyone reads Las Casasâ€™s contributions with a positive gloss. For political theorist Diego von Vacano, the friarâ€™s eorts are entirely rhetorical, questioning the Brevsima relacin â€™s basis on any kind of ethnographic inquiry. Nevertheless, von Vacano writes, it is in the Brevsima relacin where Las Ca sasâ€™s â€œtransvaluation of values is most evident . . . where he inverts the subject o f t he civilized-barbarian dichotomy most clearly.â€ According to von Vacano, Las Casas is an aesthetician, reading the Amerindians and their place in nature as instances of Godâ€™s plan in making the world attractive. Yet Las Casasâ€™s rhetorical style also subverts the meanings of words, using the term â€œbarbarianâ€ t o des cribe Spanish actions, while simultaneously granting the Amerindians a near supernatural capacity to withstand suering. e textâ€™s exaggeration is meant to prove the Amerindianâ€™s humanity, itself an object of analysis and skepticism at the time. Ã¾ Ca izares-Esguerra, on the other hand, describes how Las Casasâ€™s defense of the Indians was couched in a description of the Americas as â€œone of the most salubrious environments on earth . . . that Amerindians were exceptional
b human beings . . . that since the natives lived in extremely temperate climates, they therefore had exceptionally good mechanisms of perception and superior intelligence.â€ is position ran against a material context in search of labor to exploit the earth. e Amerindiansâ€™ bodiesâ€”which Las Casas had described as meek and renective of a passive natureâ€”were read by Spanish conquerors and encomenderos as phlegmatic and eeminate. In one instance of the Brevsima relacin , he describes the â€œfertileâ€ province of Nicaragua as â€œa thing of won der . . . with admirable groves of fruit trees that caused the people to be im mense.â€ e description not only conveys the utopian qualities of this space, b u t also doubly condemns Spanish violence. In seeking to exploit indigenous bodies, the conquistadors set them further back on the civilization scale, for neeing the land that been so key to their growth meant returning to nature itself: [Because] it was a land that is nat and without features, so that the peo ple there could not abscond into the wilderness of forest or up into the m o untain, and delightful, so that they were grieved and in anguish to think of leaving it, they thus did suer terrible persecutions and all that it was possible for them to tolerate of bondage and acts of tyranny at the hands of the Christians (for by their nature they were a most meek and pacic people).Again, as with Oviedo, Las Casas does not necessarily disagree with granting nature the power to determine social behavior, although he rejects any notion that their indigenous peoplesâ€™ â€œnaturalâ€ docility entailed social inferiority. In deed, he never completely rejected the notion, which would be made popular a ga in in the eighteenth century, that the New World was literally a continent in maturation: And those sins which are reserved for punishment by God alone, such as a desire for vengeance, or the hatred and rancor that those people might harbor against such capital enemies as the Christians were to them, into these I believe very few Indians ever fell, and they were little more im petuous and hard, by the great experience that I have of them, than chil dren of ten or twelve years old. And I know too, as a sure and infallible t r uth, that the Indians always waged the most just and defensible war against the Christians, albeit the Christians never waged just war against the Indians, but rather were diabolical and innitely unjust, and much more so than in that wise than might be held or said about any tyrant in the world at any time before.
tr ough admirable, this is no call for an imperial exit. e violence of the New Worldâ€™s conquest convinced Las Casas of the severe moral duty that God had imposed on Spainâ€”and arguably himselfâ€”to paternalistically bring the Amerindians into history and modernity. Nature helped frame his argument by o ering a site of wonder that would subvert the authority of the Scholastics and carve a space where natural law met its limits. Such arguments did not go unchallenged within the Royal Court. e Aristotelian humanist, Juan Gins de Seplveda, argued against Las Casasâ€™s conception of natural patronage, ad vocating instead a model of natural slavery to justify what he considered was a â€œ j ust warâ€ against Indian indels. eir Debate at Valladolidâ€”renowned for the eloquence and rhetorical nourish of the two menâ€™s argumentsâ€”culminated in a philosophical stalemate over what ultimately constituted the Amerindiansâ€™ humanity (or lack thereof). In terms of imperial policy and philosophical impact, the debate shied the terms under which both the Spanish conceptions of empire and the naturalist conception of knowledge would develop from that point forward.Debating the Nexus of Nature and Empiree vision of nature depicted in the works of Oviedo and Las Casas is both holistic and Edenic. Oviedo, seeing in the Americas the opportunity to enact a new story of conquest for Imperial Spain, constructs a vision of the earth as a canvas onto which he can limn the development of a civilized society. Las Casas, while interested in defending the humanity of the Amerindians, creates a portrait of the Americas as a space being fought over by holy and unholy forces alike. In the face of the New Worldâ€™s wonder, one can assume that part of what shaped the two historiansâ€™ minds was the sheer size and lushness of the American landscape. Ã¾ Bet ween Oviedo and Las Casas, however, the allegedly untouched, unde veloped, and uncivilized world of Amerindians raised among Europeans many a r guments and disagreements about the relationship between language, moral ity, geography, climate, and ultimately, the place of human beings in the world. W h at I aim to start addressing here is how the description of the natural world began as a source of historical understanding, as well as an invitation to dig deeper into the mystery of the machine of the earth. is is an invitation with signicant political ramications that can greatly contribute to the work being currently done in the political theory of empire and imperialism. As Pitts her self observes, a measured move into other elds such as the history of science a n d environmental history may be a welcome development:
tf If all political theory has become cross-disciplinary, this is nowhere more true than in the study of empire. A proper understanding of the phe nomenon of empire requires the contributions of social and cultural his tory and theory; literary criticism; feminist criticism and history; and a n thropology.According to Scholastic philosophers, what distinguished man from other beasts, and civilized man from barbarism, was his ability to employ his spec ulative intellect to the fullest. On one side of the New World experience of n a ture was the absence of cities; on the other, was a coexistence with natural life that (in the European vision of nature) violated the natural hierarchy of beings. Assuming there was a space to tolerate and engage with the existence of indigenous peoples, and that their connection with the natural world was something to be le behind, how was the Amerindian meant to escape nature in the future Spanish Empire? e imperial answer was univocal: by building cities, tilling the land, educating indigenous peoples (pedagogically and spa tially) in an environment where their mind could thrive and the Amerindian co u ld become human. Ã¾ e humanist scholar Francisco de Vitoria, when he entered the end of the debate between Las Casas and Seplveda, oered a valuable synthesis of the two menâ€™s positions. Vitoria argued that the only way to recognize humanity within the Amerindians was to situate them alongside the Spaniards as beings in history, subject to the same laws of growth, maturity, decline, and death that characterized Europeans. e habituation of the Amerindian into humanity demanded a systematic transformation that only the empire could oer, but that by no means guaranteed success. Ã¾ Pr ior to the material transformation brought about by Spanish colonizers and their new modes of commerce, exploration, and science, Vitoria envi sioned religious re-education as the source of new customs and â€œnaturesâ€ for A m erindians and Spaniards alike. It was easy, from this premise, for chroni clers like Oviedo to see the Amerindianâ€™s relation to nature as misguided, h er etical even, in spite of oering an understanding of harmony that was far less connictive than what was found in European systems of knowledge. As Las Casasâ€™s case shows, however, Spanish naturalism, as I sought to clarify here, was not the product of mystery and elegance, but rather of wonder, faith, and empire. From my perspective, further exploring this relationship reveals the political stakes in the exclusion of Spanish imperialismâ€™s role in the formation of modernity. While there was the possibility of an escape from nature in the minds of philosophers like Vitoria, and historians such
t as Oviedo, their eorts (alongside Las Casasâ€™s) act as reminders that there is no escape from the questions that conquest and dominance over the earth have inaugurated. From their experience, the idea of civilization was yet to be properly understood, and the burden of civilizing nature, or creating the right narrative to cultivate New World nature, remained for Spanish natural ists a dilemma of timeless implications. In the next chapter, I look at one of t h e most systematic eorts to make sense of the links between nature and the narrative of civilization as approached by Bernardino de Sahagn.
3 b Small and smooth, shiny. It has small, pointed ears, just like a small dog. It is black, like rubber; smooth, slippery, very smooth, long-tailed. And its tail is provided with a hand at the end; just like a human hand is the point of its tail. And its hands are like a raccoonâ€™s hands or like a monkeyâ€™s hands. It lives, it is a dweller in watery caverns, in watery depths. And if anyone arrives there at its entrance, or there in the water where it is, it then grabs him there. It is said that it sinks him, it plunges him into the water; it carries him to its home, it introduces him to the depths; so its tail goes holding him, so it goes seizing him.Bernardino de Sahagn, â€œe Ahuizotl,â€ Florentine CodexIn this chapter, I engage with the work and ideas of the Franciscan friar Ber nardino de Sahagn, known primarily as a pioneer of cultural anthropology a n d one of the single most innuential ethnographers of the Mexica peoples. Specically, I argue that Sahagnâ€™s ethnographic work went far beyond cul tural observation, developing instead an empirical disposition in the service o f s piritual salvation against the New Worldâ€™s allegedly diabolical character. I show how he developed a linguistic model that allowed him to study Nahua (that is, Aztec) culture, but also made sense of indigenous peoplesâ€™ relations to a natural environment allegedly full of deception and danger. Ã¾ In hi s pursuit of the meanings of nature, however, Sahagn attempted to dehumanize indigenous cultures while simultaneously naturalizing his own millenarian fears of the demonic and inhuman. What his innovative approach to the study of human society intended was to extirpate evil forces from in -
t digenous society by locating the source of moral deviancy within nature itself. His ndings, he reasoned, would determine the suitability of some indigenous customs and beliefs over others. is particular style of cultural anthropology thus functions as a kind of political demonology: the sustained study of the hu man, the natural, and the supernatural as an interpretive framework to govern a n un stable, yet promising, polity. Sahagn arrived in the Americas in fb as part of what scholars have called the â€œSpiritual Conquest.â€ rough his evangelizing eorts in New Spain, he developed an unrivaled catalogue of cultural, r e ligious, linguistic, and social practices in Aztec society that culminated in the renowned Florentine Codex . Concerned with cultivating the proper conditions for conversion, Sahagn developed in this manuscript a series of systematic ethnographies aimed at dierentiating between practices that were amenable to the Christian faith and others deemed idolatrous. As part of what he called a â€œGeneral History of the ings of New Spain,â€ Sahagnâ€™s work is regarded as a rsthand testimony of the conquest of the Americas. e work is also an early exemplar of the many transformations that Spanish missionaries underwent in the midst of great cultural, linguistic, and institutional paradoxes. Ã¾ In w hat follows, I position Sahagnâ€™s framework of scientic and ecclesiastic inquiry within the broader evolution of two trends: the cultures of conquest emerging from the Spanish Reconquista and the imperial revival of natural history. I then focus on the context of production of the Florentine Codex and particularly the paucity of research in the secondary literature on Book XI of the Codex , a volume entitled â€œEarthly ings.â€ In the third section of the chap ter, I look at the anthropomorphized interactions between Mexica peoples and th eir natural environments described in Book XI, and how missionaries like Sahagn attempted to interpret indigenous rituals through an anthropological conception of diabolism, or, devil worship. In this anthropolitical model, what Peter Pels calls the â€œpractical relationship between ethnographer and people described,â€ indigenous peoples were stripped of agency as victims of satanic innuences. In a paradoxical move, however, Sahagn also renders them as having exemplary cultural qualities, particularly their innovative uses of the natural environment that missionaries would need to become familiar with in order to extirpate idolatry.Cultures of Conquest and Imperial Revival of Natural HistoryRecovering Sahagnâ€™s story and writings is essential to unpacking the origins of a long-held bias in the Western human sciences against indigenous beliefs.
tb For instance, Sahagnâ€™s example is crucial to understanding why political theorists today have such a contentious relation to indigenous peoples. In eect, Sahagnâ€™s work and method form part of a contested reconguration of Western intellectual historiography, one where the indigenous past can be included within contemporary accounts of cultural domination. e study of nature is a critical juncture in the development of that history. Sahagnâ€™s voice, and especially the muted experiences of his indigenous interlocutors, are misconstrued when depicted as mere curiosities, or, when missionaries like Sahagn are reduced to being fanatical agents of empire. Ã¾ Indeed, in the intertextual construction of an ethnographic voice, Sahagn i s more than an arbiter between indigenous dispossession and recognition. e paradoxes his work conveys are essential to the genre of colonial writing and domination, yet have been less innuential in histories of science and political theory. A problem emerges in how the history of political thought in Colo nial Spanish America depends on the mediated silence of native informants. U n packing this impasse is a monumental task that does not begin nor end with Sahagn. Yet his work forms part of a formative moment in the history of political thought that, as the Mexican historian Miguel Len-Portilla has noted, â€œwas replete with paradoxes.â€ e Florentine Codex is a work of many inconsistencies, due to connicting descriptions one nds in the Nahuatland Spanish-language texts. In particular, Sahagnâ€™s contrasting interpretations of animals, landscapes, and the stories Mexica peoples would tell about them re veal dissonant conclusions regarding his understanding of nature, religion, and t h e changing geopolitical context of New Spainâ€™s Spiritual Conquest. Juxtapos ing his views conrms that narratives of dehumanization and demonization w er e instrumental to the study of nature in Colonial Spanish America. Ã¾ Yet w hen reading Sahagn â€œwith the grainâ€â€”through his own evolving ex perience with the Nahua languageâ€”one can see counterintuitive inconsistencies in the allegedly impervious logic of imperial domination that missionaries l i ke him espoused. As Sahagn learns more about the peoples of New Spain, his zeal to condemn them wanes. My account of Sahagnâ€™s natural history of New Spain thus shows that Spanish chroniclers of the New World were involved in a far more normative project than mere material extraction. Indeed, for a brief period of time, statecra in Colonial America could only be achieved as soulcra, making the conquest of nature one step in a larger negotiation of spiritual values. Ã¾ As I h ave established so far, natural historians played a wide range of roles in the conquest of the New World. e revolutionary implications of the en -
tt counter with the Americas rested on the need to account for what Europeans found on the new continents. Storytelling in this context helped to naturalize Spainâ€™s imperial mission by taking American nature as a unit of analysis to explain social, political, and economic dierences between indigenous peoples and European explorers. Ã¾ As the rst Spanish conquerors returned to Europe, their accounts of crea t ures and landscapes outside of existing conceptual and interpretive frame works enticed settlers, merchants, and missionaries to relive and re-enact t h e chivalric epics recounted in the Reconquista . For one set of actors in the Americas, the narrative of imperial conquest included a monstrous and unpredictable natural world, not just an allegedly uncivilized opponent. In this scheme, the unknown and exotic were used as proof of Godâ€™s favored view of the Spaniards as bearers of the Christian faith, as well as Satanâ€™s ex ile from Heaven into an unpredictable land. For another group, the drives behind conquest demanded reform: more than just a violent appropriation of territory, reconquering the natural world of the Americas demanded the conquest of narrative itself. Ã¾ Ber nardino de Sahagnâ€”in conjunction with other predecessors of mod ern cultural anthropology, such as Diego Durn and Diego de Landaâ€”saw in t h e Americas a repository of cultural deviance that needed to be archived and withdrawn from circulation, so that proper cultivation of Catholic values could take place. Sahagn saw in the land and peoples of the Americas a world split in two: one a source of order and the other a site of fear. His preconceptions mirrored a longstanding belief in the bifurcation of time and history i n to a secular, worldly realm, and another heavenly, universal space. Many naturalists initially employed the classical frameworks of Aristotle and Pliny to explain the nature of the New World. e sheer novelty of these spaces made the stretching and challenging of ancient sources pragmatically necessary, yet also politically controversial. Ã¾ My riad collections of nora and faunaâ€”along with the tapestry of words used to describe themâ€”testied that the New World, and indigenous peo plesâ€™ knowledge of it, were truly advanced. ese vast landscapes, however, p r ovided ample opportunities for indigenous peoples to behave in allegedly devious and idolatrous ways. Early explorers had emphasized the supersti tious reading of signs and lack of literary scripts as markers of the slow men tal and technological development of Amerindian peoples. However, the rst wa v es of missionaries to the New World encountered many similarities with Christian custom and ritual that challenged these readings. eir discoveries
t generated great doubts over the reliability of earlier writings on American nature. Sahagnâ€™s own arrival in the New World coincided with a second wave of religious (and naturalist) inquiry. e men who came to conquer the environments and souls of the New World were trained not just to interpret native languages and customs, but also to nd in the American landscape the source of great dangers. Ã¾ In t his endeavor Sahagn represents an intellectual conundrum. Historians have described Sahagn as â€œa declared enemy of the hybridization of cultures,â€ as well as a â€œmature and seasoned Franciscan . . . concerned with shaping the knowledge of a tradition to which he did not belong and had to deal with connict between his own ethnic tradition and the one he was trying to under stand.â€ Most commentators, however, have largely overlooked how central the study of nature was to Sahagnâ€™s project and the political implications sur rounding his observations. Even fewer political theorists have studied how his n a turalistic observations contributed to the development of Spainâ€™s imperial project. Ã¾ I ho ne in on Book XI of the Florentine Codex to oer a more empirically grounded portrait of Sahagnâ€™s depictions of indigenous customs and their uses of New World nature. Book XI is a focal point for these observations, revealing a far more ambivalent relation to indigenous peoples than generally seen among Spanish missionaries. As Laura Ammon has noted, one of the dominant hypotheses held by missionaries in New Spain was â€œan Augustinian understanding of the world,â€ where humanity was dened along two sets of characteristics: rst, as belonging to a world where, â€œGod le traces of himself in nature and could therefore be known, at least nascently, by all living thingsâ€; and second, as was argued about Amerindian peoples, as exhibiting qualities that â€œwere not rational, meaning . . . [they] were equivalent to beasts of burden and did not possess a soul.â€ at second conception rendered indigenous societies especially susceptible to the demonic. In this way the holy, mundane, and inhuman all come together to inform Sahagnâ€™s broader project. More over, his linguistic interpretation of the cultural, medicinal, and naturalist ritu als found in Book XI renders the nature of the New World into a living artifact w i thout equal in Old World taxonomiesâ€”a veritable â€œForest, Garden and Orchard of the Mexican Language.â€ Ã¾ Scholars have paid little attention to Book XI of the Codex , des pite that it is both the largest and most illustrated of the workâ€™s twelve volumes. In part, this is a result of the relative obscurity under which the best-preserved copy of the Florentine Codex was kept, under the auspices of the Medici-sponsored
Figure . â€œe Ahuizotl,â€ Bernardino de Sahagn, Book XI: â€œEarthly ings,â€ Florentine Codex (fb). Florence, Laurentian Medicean Library, Ms. Med. Palat. r, f. r. Courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Any further reproduction by any means is forbidden.
t Laurentian Library. Secondly, however, that obscurity is also a testament to the Codex â€™s labyrinthine history as a subject of royal controversy in the late sixteenth century. e larger story of the Florentine Codex â€™s trajectory goes beyond the scope of the present text. Censured by the Council of the In dies for its potential vindication of indigenous beliefs, Sahagnâ€™s C ode x was also the source of great debate within the Franciscan Order concerning their theological disposition. In Book XI of the Codex , Sahagn documents Az tec accounts of nora, fauna, insects, landscapes, and the religious uses around t h em. e narrative oers clues as to how the study of indigenous customs, religion, and politics demanded a more nuanced, adaptive, and nexible strat egy for Spanish control. Especially critical in Sahagnâ€™s observations was the uniq ue cosmological relationship to nature that Aztec peoples had and, in eect, conveyed through their language and social values. Ã¾ e t ext of Book XI follows a bilingual format of Nahuatland Spanishlanguage columns, developed throughout the Codex by Sahagn and his con scripted indigenous interpreters to lay out the linguistic and cultural bases o f N ahua society (see gure ). e strategy also allowed Sahagn the space to oer interpretive commentary. Sahagn develops here a natural history of the Valley of Mexico, employing Aztec knowledge developed before the arrival of Spanish conquerors. Much like his eorts to compare and recon cile Aztec rituals with core Christian practices in other books of the Co dex , Sa hagnâ€™s natural history blended Aztec methods of collection with the g rowing emphasis on experiential, evidentiary standards found in Spanish naturalism more broadly. Ã¾ As I w ill illustrate below, however, Sahagnâ€™s documentation of his encoun ters with New World nature and indigenous religious practices reveal several co n ceptual paradoxes about his method. Indeed, Book XI is arguably the most complex of the Florentine Codex , as it positions Sahagn the furthest away from what his stated objectives and anthropological sensibilities claim to pur sue, but also makes him one of the leading lights of early modern scientic and p o litical thought. Pursuing Sahagn: The Spiritual Conquest and the Devil in the New Worlde rst Franciscan missionaries arrived in Colonial America in fb under the banner of the â€œTwelve Apostles of New Spain.â€ eir initial eorts in the region ranged from establishing Nahuatl instruction for all missionaries, to
r dividing the Mexican territory into administrative provinces. eir immersion into Mexica culture also set the stage for the orderâ€™s long history of spiritual and institutional innuence. In his celebrated text, e Spiritual Conquest of Mexico, Robert Ricard documents the ethnographic and organizational chal lenges that mendicant orders faced in developing religious missions in post conquest Mexico. Highlighting the extent of linguistic training that Franciscan mi s sionaries needed in order to properly preach the Gospel and fulll the rites of conversion, Ricard writes of an enduring tension between theory and prac tice from one generation to the next. â€œe missionaries of Mexicoâ€ he writes, â€œ w ere aware that they could be led into dangerous compromises, especially at the beginning, when their knowledge of the country and its religion was still scanty; that they might breed confusions and erroneous notions in the spirits of the natives.â€ Drawing on training manuals and letters written by early missionary leaders, Ricard shows how the demands of mission life led to compromises in the ways Christian rites were interpreted and integrated into indigenous society. Ã¾ e p ractical consequences of this initial uncertainty might have tempted overzealous missionaries â€œmore or less consciously to sacrice the integrity of the dogma to their desire to swell the number of their neophytes.â€ Key in this milieu is the legacy of Sahagn, who spent most of his eorts in New Spain working against religious compromise, while craing a history of the postcon quest landscape for future missionaries and the Nahua themselves. Sahagn and others learned early on that Christianity had to be explained in terms that were familiar to Aztec culture and language. His willingness to experiment with heterodox forms of representation made Sahagn an exemplary gure of the immersion that was necessary to understand indigenous lifestyles and belief systems. Yet Sahagnâ€™s example is also representative of the costs of that immersion. Ã¾ Am ong the various obstacles faced by Franciscan missionaries, the gure of the Devil was perhaps the most prominent. Particularly important for early missionaries was tracing how representations of the Devil played an active role in shaping both indigenous attitudes toward Christianity and missionary perceptions of pre-Columbian religions. As Fernando Cervantes has argued, conceptions of idolatry and diabolism in the relations between missionaries and indigenous people were highly contested. e spectrum of equivocal in digenous practices that resembled Christian rites prompted great worry for the f u ture of the Church. e prospects of a diabolical presence in the Americasâ€” the root source of idolatry in the New Worldâ€”demanded a resilient response
f from evangelizers to identify, single out, and eradicate erroneous interpreta tions of Godâ€™s traces in the world. As Cervantes explains: e cr umbling optimism of the second decade of Franciscan evangeliza tion was a renection of the growing conviction among the missionaries t h at Satanic intervention was at the heart of Indian cultures. It had be come clear to the friars that the deities of the Indians were not merely fa l se idols but, in the words of Fray Bernardino de Sahagn, â€œlying and deceitful devils,â€ whom he was careful to represent as such.It was imperative for missionaries like Sahagn to remove the presence of the Devil from indigenous appropriation of Christian rites. Many practicesâ€” from ritualistic ceremonies and baptisms, to sacricial oeringsâ€”retained an alarming similarity to earlier idolatrous customs. eir recurrence took up signicant energy from missionaries such as Sahagn, who attempted to evan gelize native cultures much in the way a doctor would operate. e success of p r escription, Sahagn maintained, depended on a broad set of lived-experi ences encompassing both missionary and native, for the â€œphysician cannot ac curately prescribe remedies to his patient if he does not rst know the humors a n d the causes from which the sickness proceeds . . . preachers and confessors are the physicians of the soul, and in order to cure certain spiritual sicknesses, they must know these remedies and these sicknesses.â€ e physicianâ€™s goals, in this sense, mirrored a process of moral rehabilitation. Ã¾ In digenous appropriation of diabolical imagery oen acted as a means of preserving their cultural autonomy from the conquering Spaniards. Cervantes writes that one of the major paradoxes in the assumption that indigenous so cieties were merely passive recipients to religious indoctrination was the alien c h aracter of concepts such as â€œthe goodâ€ or â€œdivineâ€: â€œIn contrast with the typi cally Western conception of evil,â€ he writes, â€œMesoamerican notions of evil and t h e demonic were inextricably intertwined with the notions of good and the divine. Evil and the demonic were in fact intrinsic to the divinity itself.â€ e broad spectrum of cosmological beliefs found in the New World made any em pirical or spiritual interpretation of indigenous uses of nature a mutually inclu sive matter, rather than part of separate endeavors. Much of Cervantesâ€™s book f o cuses on the subtleties of Christian theology and their evolution through im mersed experiences with indigenous cultures. Yet a key nding of his contribu tion is to locate the meaning of diabolism for missionaries within early modern de b ates over the links between the natural and supernatural, not merely in the presumed piety of their project.
Ã¾ Laura Ammon and Pete Sigal have wrestled with this alleged division be t ween nature and the divine in Sahagn by paying attention to his context o f p roduction. Ammon points to the importance that classical works such as Plinyâ€™s Historia Naturalis and the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus had in missionary comparisons of indigenous culture. â€œIn their use of a compara tive method to understand indigenous religion,â€ Ammon tell us, â€œ[mission aries] engaged in two levels of comparison. e rst level involved placing in dig enous practices against their knowledge of the world of the Greeks and Romans. . . . e second level of comparison . . . was a much more straightfor ward Christian approach: the use of biblical texts to look for evidence of Godâ€™s p r esence in the New World.â€ Similarly, Sigal has convincingly argued that greater attention to the cultural context of production behind texts such as the Florentine Codex reveals the great political imbalances at work in the narration (and translation) of indigenous belief systems. Specically, he refers to the Florentine Codex as an exemplary â€œpost-conquestâ€ text, â€œ[containing] voices mediated by a wide variety of innuences, which oen act as lters to make the voices heard in a framework that makes sense to the colonizing authorities.â€ Ã¾ As Sigal goes on to argue, Sahagnâ€™s exposition of indigenous beliefs and p ractices is a pluralistic one, yet given what his role as evangelizer entailed, it is also paradoxical: Sahagnâ€™s own lters came into play in organizing and translating the work as well as in preparing the questions. In the cases of the myths, gods, and traditional religious rituals, Sahagn made it clear in the prologues to the various books that his only goal was to destroy these practices. However, others have emphasized what the tone of the Flo rentine C odex m akes clear: the Nahua intrigued Sahagn to such an extent that he began to identify closely with them, if not with all of their ceremonies.It is in those ethnographic passages where a presumed toleration of indig enous beliefs occurs that some of Sahagnâ€™s most valuable observations can be lo c ated. Specically, and as I show below, one of Sahagnâ€™s least-studied lters was his millenarian belief in the coming end of the world and the great dan ger that the Devil posed in accelerating this cataclysm. at conviction seems m u ted right at the moment when Sahagnâ€™s catalogue of natural beings, land scapes, and rituals depicts the larger cosmological encounter between Nahua a n d Christian spiritual worldviews.
Anthropology as Demonology: The Spiritual Geopolitics of American NatureAs noted above, the concept of diabolism was inextricably linked to the Francis can evangelizing enterprise. Sahagnâ€™s treatment of diabolism is two-pronged: r s t, he focuses on the interaction of indigenous words and the natural envi ronment to reveal particularly nuanced instances of idolatry; and second, his a p preciation of that nuance reveals his own intellectual tolerance regarding the blurred lines between spiritual and naturalist ritual. Specically, Sahagn sees in the indigenous connection with language an important anthropological marker that illustrated norms of religious custom, ritual spaces, and theological belief. However, it is in this linguistic model of studying New World nature that anthropology becomes for Sahagn an exercise in demonology, not as a spiri tual apologetic, but as an empirical science of man employed in a global battle a ga inst the demonic. Despite some scholarly impasse concerning the novelty of Sahagnâ€™s eorts, his anthropological demonology was more than just a tool of domination, acting instead as a means of cultural accommodation. Ã¾ Several missionaries sought to accommodate the Americas into the canon o f classical knowledge by using naturalist inquiry in the service of religious conversion. eir experience of the great diversity of peoples in the New World challenged the colonial demand to dispossess indigenous peoples from any claims to self-mastery. My call for acknowledging Sahagnâ€™s normative nexibility throughout these exchanges stems from a greater emphasis within emerging historiographical work on the trans-Atlantic character of knowledge production in sixteenth-century Spanish America. As Caizares-Esguerra has argued, naturalist experiences were key to shaping the aims and future tra jectories of imperial domination. rough systematic empirical observation, n a tural histories (including Sahagnâ€™s) formed part of â€œa larger scholarly mood concerned with the debilitating eectsâ€ of the New World. Sahagnâ€™s inquiries showcased both the allegedly corruptible, but also vibrant, facets of indig enous religion. Ã¾ In deed, missionaries saw in natural history a vital medium through which indigenous cosmologies, properly understood, could be subsumed into Chris tian worldviews and rule. At stake in the Franciscan conception of New World n a ture was an eschatological interpretation of the Americasâ€™ place in world history. In their view, determining the origins and cosmological contradic tions of the New World would have dramatic historical implications for the n a l judgment of all the worldâ€™s peoples. Mendicant orders oen described
indigenous peoples as the New World equivalent of the Tribes of Israel, that is, as a civilization lost on a cosmic exile. e Franciscansâ€™ encounter with the people and conditions of the New World signied the beginning of an apoca lyptic countdown that added great urgency to the task of religious conversion a n d the necessary tools to achieve it. Ã¾ Mi ssionaries in New Spain, for instance, were expected to live with and emulate the Mexicaâ€™s own conditions of poverty. eir exposure to indigenous customs was thought to be the crucial step to reviving a â€œPrimitive Apostolic Churchâ€ that, unlike the one in Europe, was free of hubris and materialism. Culinary habits and taboos put Spanish naturalists in contact with indigenous herbariums and medicinal standards. Spanish commercial interests would eventually invest greatly in learning and reproducing indigenous medicines for an international market. As Caizares-Esguerra points out, however, the same obsession with Amerindian peoples as the theological equivalent of the Israelites came with its own darker vision, one that transcended boundaries and generated distinct geopolitical cultures among missionaries: Sixteenthand seventeenth-century Europeans were obsessed with de mons, and they thought that the devil had made the New World his ef dom. . . . Both northern Protestant and southern Catholic settlers felt t hr eatened and surrounded by the devil, who allegedly attacked their polities by unleashing storms, earthquakes, and epidemics, and by loos ing heretics, tyrannical royal bureaucrats, foreign enemies, and Amerin dians on them.Franciscan millenarianism was therefore one aspect of the wider demono logical discourses at play in early Colonial America. While some missionaries c a me to see indigenous peoples as the conceptual, if not actual, counterpart to a lost biblical people, there was a larger tendency to view them as a diabolical inversion put forth by Satan to sabotage ecclesiastical aims. Ã¾ Sah agn himself believed that conversion was made far more dicult by the fact that the world of indigenous peoples had been infused by the diabolical for centuries. As he remarks in one of the prologues of the Florentine Codex , he was â€œcertain that the Devil neither sleeps nor has forgotten the cult that these Indian natives oered him in the past, and that he is awaiting a suitable con jecture to return to his lordship.â€ Notoriously damning evidence of one such â€œcultâ€ was the practice of sacricial rituals around natural phenomena, such as the rain in the central highlands, which native peoples were surreptitiously drawn to worship: â€œdeceived by the demons, enemies of humankind.â€
b Ã¾ Moments of distrust and zealotry are common in Sahagnâ€™s writings. As M illie Gimmel highlights, many of these instances were also â€œnotable . . . of how Sahagn was changed by both the land and the culture of the indige nous world in which he was living.â€ Sahagnâ€™s encounters with idolatry may point to his keen nose for traces of the demonic; for my purposes, however, they also show how he â€œhad acquired the indigenous sensitivity to landscape and accepted the local explanation of meteorological events without losing his evangelical zeal for the extirpation of idolatry.â€ e lands and mountains themselves held vestiges of the Devil, for how else could one explain the indig enous veneration of the mountains as a sacred place, Sahagn reasoned, if not f o r their being â€œpersuaded or admonished by the devil or his governors to visit those mountains.â€ Ã¾ ose same beliefs are at play in Sahagnâ€™s account of the Cult of St. Anne, w hich I engage below, but instead they oer a more generous, if not ambiva lent, set of interpretations. In what follows, I provide an explanation for that a m bivalence, positioning Book XI of the Florentine Codex as a naturalist mediation between Christian and indigenous religious values. More pertinently, I s h ow how Sahagnâ€™s observations act as a model of interlingual relations where the Codex â€™s bilingual representation is used as a form of political consolidation. While Sahagnâ€™s model was never completed, it remains methodologically in structive for studying the history of early modern imperial thought.A Natural History of Soulcraft: Reading Book XI of the Florentine CodexBook XI of the Florentine Codex , which is entitled â€œEarthly ings,â€ is notable for its discussion of prominent nora and fauna, as well as herbal medicinal practices. e text, whose contents had been disclosed by native informants in response to Sahagnâ€™s questionnaires, is remarkable for providing a systematic understanding of indigenous peoplesâ€™ uses of natural resources prior to Span ish contact. Indeed, as Henry Reeves points out, â€œSahagn, while writing pri marily to further the missionary eort, inadvertently but fortuitously helped es t ablish the Aztecs as pioneering New World naturalists and the Spaniards as conveyors of that information.â€ In addition to ethnographic observations that borrow from native informants, who were conscripted to aid Sahagnâ€™s eorts, Book XIâ€™s narrative oers a second complex layer: documenting indigenous knowledge about nature that is both factual and mythical. Ã¾ To i llustrate the tensions between these interpretive layers, I look at two de -
t scriptions within Book XI of the Florentine Codex : the â€œbird of the heartâ€ (yol lotototl ) a nd the myth of Toci , a m anifestation of the goddess Tzapotlatenan, also known as â€œour grandmother.â€ ese illustrations are important as they present an ambivalence within Sahagnâ€™s approach regarding their linguistic meaning and the religious customs they represent. According to Jill McKeever Furst, for example, the concept of â€œyolia â€ was used in indigenous cultures in much the same way that the concept of â€œsoulâ€ was used for European societies. More specically, yolia â€œanimated the body, and it also conferred a special and highly individual character consisting of personality, aptitudes, abilities, and desires. Native peoples also said the yolia survived aer death and traveled to a postmortem existence.â€ As Sahagn documents it, the embodiment of this concept by the â€œbird of the heartâ€ (that is, yollotototl ) vividly portrays an emer gent missionary tolerance toward a syncretic ritual that espouses Christian and in dig enous beliefs. Ã¾ Fo r Sahagn, yollotototl (a common Bananaquit; see gure ) is a social curiosity. His description of the bird illustrates both its natural features and cultural relevance within the region of Teotlixco (a toponym, or place-name, meaning â€œto face the Godsâ€) in Southern Mexico: It lives there in Teotlixco, toward the southern sea. . . . As for its being called yollotototl , the people there say thus: that when we die, our hearts turn into [these birds]. And when it speaks, when it sings, it makes its voice pleading; it indeed gladdens oneâ€™s heart, it consoles one. . . . It is edible.Several characteristics stand out about the above description. For one, the idea of yolia (that is, the soul) being animated by a living natural analogue was both a boon and challenge for Franciscan missionaries. As Furst points out, â€œBelief in the yolia as a bird may have facilitated the adoption of European winged beingsâ€”angels and cherubsâ€”into indigenous iconography. In [some Nahuatlspeaking communities] the soul animates the body and is punished aer death, but a dierent entity, the spirit, is a guardian in the intangible form of a dove or pigeon that attempts to protect both soul and the body from misfortune and bad decisions.â€ To see Godâ€™s actions or agents manifested in the natural world would have been reassuring to a Franciscan missionary, because it conrmed the Augustinian conception of the divine in nature that animates much of the Franciscan millenarianism at work in New Spain. Ã¾ Yet g iven what we know of the Spiritual Conquest, Sahagnâ€™s description would have been troubling to his Spanish audience. He blends a naturalist
description with a mythological narrative about yollotototl â€™s place in Nahua beliefs, making no judgment regarding the storyâ€™s veracity and (perhaps only implicitly) seems to willingly overlook a suggestion of cannibalism. If oneâ€™s heart does, indeed, transform into an edible bird upon death, there is more than ample potential to nd instances of heresy and hence grounds for eccle siastic intervention. Ã¾ e p assage also reveals a further linguistic innovation. Scholars have oen singled out a distinctive feature of Sahagnâ€™s style where claims made in one column of text (the Nahuatl-language portions, for instance) are later omitted Figure . â€œe Bird of the Heart,â€ Bernardino de Sahagn, Book XI: â€œEarthly ings,â€ Florentine Codex (fb). Florence, Laurentian Medicean Library, Ms. Med. Palat. r, f. fr. Courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Any further reproduction by any means is forbidden.
in the Spanish translations and commentary. While such omissions have been considered oversights and errors of the Codex â€™s tortuous path toward publica tion, the omissions are in some cases systematic. In the case of the Nahua yo lia a nd Sahagnâ€™s reading of yollotototl , f or example, there is a straightforward interpretation that reconciles elements of the Christian soul with indigenous readings of natureâ€™s value. Not all of Sahagnâ€™s illustrations, however, are as easy to decipher. For instance, consider the case of the myth of Toci and its parallels with the Cult of St. Anne. Ã¾ As p art of Book XIâ€™s naturalist descriptions, Sahagn provides an account of dierent mountain ranges and sites where he has been told of the existence of idolatrous acts. In some cases, as noted below, he himself has been witness to the idolatry. As he writes of one mountain range in Tlaxcala (central Mexico) in particular, the reader encounters a certain ambivalence over the incom mensurability of the Nahuatland Spanish-language terms. In this striking p a ssage excerpted from the Spanish-language column, Sahagnâ€™s disapproving tone seems to acknowledge an act of native idolatry. But the equivocal charac ter of the Nahuatl term â€œTociâ€â€”as seen in the conceptual meaning Sahagn a t tributes to it, as well as the ritual practice around itâ€”leaves Sahagnâ€™s reading rather open-ended: e second place where previously there had been many sacrices, to which people would come from far lands, is the range of Tlaxcala, where there was a temple called Toci , where a great multitude of people would congregate to celebrate this festivity Toci , which means â€œour grand mother,â€ and by another name is called Tzapotlatenan, which means â€œthe g o ddess of mezcales and medicines.â€ And later there they built a church to St. Anne, where now there is a monastery and religious of our father St. Francis, and the locals call it Toci , and from more than forty leagues people congregate for the festivity of Toci . Like this they call St. Anne, taking their cue from the preachers who call St. Anne the grandmother of all Christians, and like this they have called it and call the pulpit: Toci , which means our grandmother. And all the people who came like before to the festivity of Toci , come dressed in the colors of St. Anne, but since the name is equivocal and they respect the past, it stands to reason that they come for what is past and not for the modern.In the original manuscript, Nahuatl portions of Sahagnâ€™s text are concerned with the naturalist descriptions of surrounding bodies of water and mountains. Descriptions in Spanish, however, from which the above passage is translated,
remain â€œculturally charged,â€ demonstrating Sahagnâ€™s methodical silence over beliefs taken as ritualistic facts (for example, lands of â€œmany sacrices,â€ mul tiple pilgrimages â€œfrom far lands,â€ the building of churches) or even those that a r e potentially idolatrous practices (for example, worshipping the old gods in places where there are allegedly new ones, the suggested consumption of hal lucinogens like mezcal t o co mmemorate St. Anne). Especially salient in the passageâ€™s closing lines is Sahagnâ€™s invoking of two connicting cosmological timelines. In the events he is describing, land, peoples, and their respective rituals oscillate from â€œwhat is pastâ€ to what he modestly qualies as â€œthe mod ernâ€ (lo moderno ). Ã¾ e a bove tension in Sahagnâ€™s approach to idolatry can be linked back to the cultural and practical meanings of the Nahua concept of â€œaltepetl â€ (that is, town, or, city-state) and how it infuses Sahagnâ€™s descriptions of the land scape. e cultural meanings of altepetl made it problematic for Sahagn to come to terms with the emerging Cult of St. Anne, forcing him to recognize how toponyms allowed indigenous peoples to perform â€œoldâ€ rituals in sites where new ones were allegedly taking their place. It also aected his entire conception of the land, territory, and the space of ritual as categories that, as least when used in Nahuatl, had the potential of generating enduring social and political hierarchies (albeit idolatrous ones). Ã¾ As G immel explains, â€œAll indigenous communities were formed around or near sacred mountains and bodies of water,â€ where they â€œenacted specic rituals, oen including sacrice, for the gods of these geological formations in order to guarantee the arrival of rain.â€ It was therefore no coincidence that a Christian cult to a signicant biblical gure (the mother of the Virgin Mary) would be founded on the same hills and mountains where a rain goddess (that is, Toci ) had been previously worshipped. e passage on the Cult of St. Anne, or myth of Toci , therefore conrms an important element of Sahagnâ€™s anthro pological work: its polyphonic, that is, interlingual a n d open-ended character. Despite a fervent missionary zeal to expose and extirpate allegedly diabolic innuences, Sahagnâ€™s attention to the shiing valence of Nahua language raises for him a political sensitivity that verges on toleration, if not syncretism. Ã¾ Sah agn saw in New Spain many cosmic and cultural connicts. Yet in his exposure to the land and people, the natural world (at least textually) becomes split into both a source of order and fear. His account of the yollotototl seems to accept the winged nature of the human soul, while tolerating implicit animism and references to cannibalism; his description of the mountains of Tlaxcala and the Cult of St. Anne, though far more judgmental, leave open to inter -
r pretation the potential dangers and pragmatic opportunities that interlingual translation could uncover. For his Spanish audience, Sahagn points out the ease with which certain idolatrous practices have continued under the guise of Christian rites. In the Nahuatl portions of his text, however, he allegedly overcomesâ€”or perhaps disregardsâ€”the potential vindication of recounting the myth. Ã¾ A sy mpathetic reading of Sahagnâ€™s encounter with New World nature might claim that he â€œhoped to show how the natural world and Nahua culture were connected but at the same time his goal was generally not to preserve most of this information, but rather to exterminate it, or at least control it.â€ at interpretation downplays the context of production informing Sahagnâ€™s logic of domination. Instead, as I have argued for above, Sahagnâ€™s anthropological ethos should be linked back to the assumptions and trends informing F ra nciscan missions in the sixteenth century. Both metaphoric and actual idol atry amounted to instances of diabolism, many of which perplexed Sahagn. I n deed, in his description of vast natural environments imbued with strange customs and forces, one gets the sense that Sahagn is witnessing the early instances of what Anthony Pagden has called â€œthe fall of natural manâ€: the ir reversible move away from a cosmological relation between human beings and n at ure. In some instances, nature represents the seductive and degenerative qualities that Spaniards feared would unravel their own cosmic mission. Yet in other important episodes, nature represents a source of order, such as in the geographic knowledge Aztecs oered Sahagn in his eorts to understand medicinal and social practices. Ã¾ Sah agnâ€™s story therefore has multiple implications for the study of nature in the early Spanish Empire. His linguistic sensibilities and scientic creativ ity make Sahagn a formidable case for studying the ethos of the Spiritual C o nquest in the New World, the political channels and interests espoused by his visions of nature, and the narrative dissonance at work in the marriage between scientic inquiry and imperial ideology. I therefore see Sahagn as an enduring example of the epistemological challenges behind writing the history of past peoples, places, and their intertextual representation by historians and political theorists more broadly. Ã¾ Sah agnâ€™s Book XI sheds light on the historical origins of a shiing attitude toward nature, particularly regarding the interpretation of religious experi ences in the New World. Two intersecting dispositions resonate throughout t hi s work: rst, the Franciscan Orderâ€™s heightened sense of cultural assimila tion that acts as the immediate backdrop of Sahagnâ€™s evangelizing mission.
f e search for idolatry may have been the motivating force driving Sahagnâ€™s accounts of the landscape and contents of New Spain. It was, however, Sa hagnâ€™s profound sense of curiosity for the sacred and the profane that fueled hi s et hnographic approach, revealing a productive, though divided, commit ment to both science and religion. Second, Book XI conveys an important m o ment of naturalist innovation, using both Nahuatland Spanish-language sources to portray nature in contending lights. It is arguable whether imperial authorities ever intended scientic inquiry in the early conquests to be con ducted for its own sake. Sahagnâ€™s example, however, points to the complex interaction between indigenous and European systems of knowledge that early modern thinkers attempted to negotiate. It also embodies the interaction be tween politics and ideology in an apocalyptic time.Sahagnâ€™s Model for an Interlingual Relationse open-ended character of Sahagnâ€™s story, and of Book XI particularly, re arms the complexity of political and scientic thought in the early midst of S p ainâ€™s New World Empire. is picture also points toward future avenues of research in the history of political thought and the anthropolitics of nature, past or present. Indeed, what this chapter documents is an alternative concep tion of ritual, faith, and scientic inquiry in the early modern period. As I a r gue above, the intersection of religion and nature in Sahagnâ€™s depiction of the New World can oer historians of empire a textual, yet also linguistically informed perspective that overcomes the reduction of faith to the realm of the nonscientic. By taking seriously Sahagnâ€™s deep cultural and linguistic aware ness, particularly employed in his naturalist explorations, the politics of early m o dern Atlantic exchange can be further reconstructed and put on greater display. Ã¾ I have made the case above that studying Bernardino de Sahagn as an e xemplar of a larger set of ideals practiced by natural historians in the early modern period is historically and theoretically relevant. Sahagn also rep resents an instance of the larger interplay between religious experience, sci entic inquiry, and colonial governance in the New World that historians of p o litical thought continue to ignore. By revisiting Sahagnâ€™s attempts to study the naturalist values, as well as demonic innuences, of native peoples, it is my contention that a broader historiographical dilemma concerning the study of New World intellectual production can be raised and challenged. e impasse concerns the exclusion of early modern Spanish thinkers as foundational g -
ures of the Western canon. Having inherited a narrative tradition that can be traced back to the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, Sahagn formed part of a generation of missionaries who set out initially on a Spiritual Conquest of the recently conquered New Spain. Yet these missionaries transformed this task, in their minds and by their hands, from a mission of conversion into a cosmic geopolitical battle to extirpate demonic forces from the Americas. Ã¾ Whi le both of these objectives were far larger than Sahagn himself, the innuence of both natural history and diabolism upon his study of the Mexica peoples profoundly altered his epistemological assumptions and normative endeavors in the New World. I maintain that Sahagnâ€™s innuence and notori ety is not a result of his collection, or destruction, of indigenous artifacts and n o rms. Rather, he produced an unrivaled catalogue of naturalist beliefs in the Florentine Codex and developed a systematic framework based on an anthro pological demonology: that humanity, nature, the divine, and demonic could n o t be understood in isolation from each other; that the future of the New Church would be intimately tied to the assimilation of both indigenous ritual and Christian millenarianism; and that the study of language itself was the key through which both the Old and New Worlds could be kept from collapsing in disrepair. Ã¾ Suc h a programmatic endeavor no doubt raised many critical questions for Sahagn, as it should for contemporary students of the history of politi cal thought. To paraphrase Michel Foucaultâ€™s famous claims on translation, Sa h agnâ€™s mission and relevance can be captured under the weight of a single question: if humanityâ€™s nature can be found both in the environment and the heavens, is he one distinct being or two? It stands to reason that a conscien tious participant such as Sahagn could not escape unchanged from decades o f study and observation in the Americas. Indeed, his legacy is embraced in Europe and Mexico alike, symbolizing his own complex colonizing experience. Although missionaries were tasked to uncover and decipher the practices that render the New Worldâ€™s peoples as idolatrous, this could only come aer being exposed to the satanic itself, perhaps rendering it less powerful. Ã¾ Des pite the challenges and ultimate censure encountered by Sahagn in the development of his demonology, his insights were not without political value for future naturalist endeavors. Both the herbalist Francisco Hernndez, who led a royal expedition to New Spain from fbr to fb, and the Jesuit father Jos de Acosta, whose writings innuenced the works of Francis Bacon and John Locke, were shaped by Sahagnâ€™s legacy. In his exploration of the natural landscape of New Spain, however, Sahagn seems to have discovered a greater
level of cultural commensurability than previously acknowledged by Spanish missionaries or even those who followed him. Historians of political thought would benet greatly from further study of these instances where the boundar ies between secular, religious, and scientic institutions and practices were not a s f ervently demarcated from each other as they are today. Ã¾ In deed, this separation of scholarly realms is what has precisely contributed to the alternating senses of romanticism and dismay that aict political theo ryâ€™s relationship to indigenous peoples and the early modern Catholic empires o f S pain and Portugal. Yet to take seriously how the divine and demonic coex isted with the mundane and political at the everyday level might not only be a s o urce of greater understanding of what came before the foundations of our own times. at engagement could also act as a space where our own assump tions over the boundaries between culture and nature could be put to a greater t es t. In closing, my challenge has been to consider carefully what Sahagnâ€™s ex perience tells us about early modern religious, naturalist, and anthropological en co unters. It is of little use to suggest that an approach such as Sahagnâ€™s can be easily applied today when it comes to unpacking contemporary problems. Yet more than oering an opportunity to study the micropolitics of concept formation and knowledge production, Sahagnâ€™s model of interlingual rela tions puts on display how the â€œthickening of relations between politiesâ€ is also a r es ult of the nuanced melding of words and not just violent confrontation. A pertinent reminder of how older political vocabularies always beg to take their place alongside the new, and how the seeming past competes with the modern. In the next chapter, I oer a historical portrait of that competition, turning to the most understated, yet no less signicant, naturalist of the sixteenth century, Francisco Hernndez de Toledo.
4 r b Oliliuhqui, which some call coaxihuitl, or snake plant, is a twining herb with thin, green cordate leaves, slender, green terete stems and long white owers. e seed is round and very like coriander. . . . Formerly, when the priests wished to commune with their gods and to receive a message from them, they ate this plant to induce a delirium. A thousand visions and satanic hallucinations appeared to them.Francisco Hernndez, Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae thesaurusA few years aer returning from his sojourn in the Americas, the imperial physician-in-chief (protomedico ) Francisco Hernndez de Toledo composed a poem to his longtime friend, the philologist and theologian Benito Arias Mon tano. e Epistle to Ar i as Montano (herein Epistle ), a lucid work of personal renection, is instructive for historians of Imperial Spain since it conveys a co gent psychological portrait of the man who for many centuries was unknown in t he Anglophonic world. rough this brief poem, Hernndez documents his intellectual and professional trajectory, frustrated and doubtful over the prospects of disseminating his ndings in the Americas. Ã¾ e s tory behind the Epistle â€”indeed, behind Hernndez himselfâ€”reveals a complex tapestry of political intrigue that depicts the ideological challenges faced by Spanish natural historians in the second half of the sixteenth cen tury. Hernndezâ€™s story acts an illustrative episode of the great innuence t h at the eld of natural history had within imperial intellectual and political circles. Yet short of cementing the eldâ€™s imperial credentials, the Hernndez
b Aair, as I come to call it, also highlights the beginning of natural historyâ€™s transformation into an instrumental endeavor to buttress the empireâ€™s waning economy. Ã¾ In t his chapter, I locate Hernndezâ€™s work on New World nature within the Spanish Renaissanceâ€™s intellectual rise and ideological fall. His case forms the crux of my larger argument that natural history, as an attempt to guide impe rial policy in both political and normative directions, ultimately fell short of t h e empireâ€™s overwhelming ideological and geopolitical demands. Despite early overtures of nancial and political support, the stories that natural historians sought to deploy increasingly failed to compel imperial authorities. Ã¾ e c hapter focuses on reconstructing Hernndezâ€™s linguistic training and scientic contributions. In the process, I situate my argument within a larger scholarly debate over the origins of Iberian science in a colonial context, hon ing in on one of the more obscure, yet prolic, characters of the naturalist m o vement. I argue that Hernndezâ€™s trajectory represents a dynamic political narrative in the history of science, empire, and humanist scholarship. e doc torâ€™s story becomes all the more salient as one nds in his struggle between the p rac tical needs of the empire and growing international competition a curious form of renexivity. rough a portrait of Hernndezâ€™s career, the philosophical motivations, personal connicts, and bases of political autonomy negotiated by early modern scientists within the Spanish Empire can be further illustrated. Ã¾ A r enaissance of interest in Hernndezâ€™s life and role as ocial natural histo rian of the empire has produced a substantial number of translations and inter pretations. Indeed, Hernndezâ€™s story is one that represents both the height of the empireâ€™s commitment to humanist inquiry and yet also an example of a political culture beginning to suer from its own opulence. e multiple volumes t h at emerged from Hernndezâ€™s pen never saw publication in his lifetime. For that matter, his works never appeared in their intended form. Ã¾ As t he historian Simon Varey has pointed out, Hernndezâ€™s scope and tra jectory is admirable. Hernndezâ€™s workâ€”by his own account, as well as ac cording to his contemporary advocatesâ€”can be described as â€œa New World co m plement to Pliny.â€ Steeped in a humanist curriculum typical of the early Renaissance, Hernndez blended his philological and anatomical preparation with a keen eye for context and pharmacological innovation. His exposure in New Spain to thousands of botanical exemplars never before documented, as well as the curious cultural practices through which indigenous peoples put these to use, challenged his training by exposing him to alternative systems of medical reference. roughout his six-year mission, Hernndez craed a
t new model of classication that challenged Eurocentric systems of knowledge. Scholars have noted that it was this negotiation between the New World con text and the empireâ€™s instrumental objectives that makes Hernndez such a fas cinating man of his time. is same negotiation, however, allegedly dampened hi s r elationship with the empireâ€™s scientic authorities. My goal in this chapter is therefore to use Hernndezâ€™s story as a means of illustrating larger normative connicts within early modern scientic thought. Ã¾ Gi ven his training and context, what did Hernndez â€œseeâ€ in his inquiries? Why are his scarce writings, particularly the Epistle , so important for this por trait? How did Hernndezâ€™s reports threaten and subsequently transform the r o le of science within the empire? I begin with current debates on the role of narratives in the history of science and technology in Latin America. Using a concept I call â€œnarrative politics,â€ one can see Hernndez as a product of humanist philology and imperial science. Rather than being complementary sources of knowledge, these two currents pulled Hernndez in opposing direc tions. rough a textual interpretation of key letters written by Hernndez to K in g Philip II, as well as the dissection of his famous Epistle to Arias Montano , the competing interests, challenges, and innuences behind the mission to New Spain can be reconstructed, disclosing Hernndezâ€™s own understanding of his place in these political exchanges. e chapter uses these clues to evaluate Hernndezâ€™s analytic style as a renexive component to imperial science in the sixteenth century, illustrating natural historyâ€™s conversion from a science to a kind of natural philosophy.Grand Narratives and the Power of ExampleIn fbr, Hernndez was appointed by King Philip II to lead the rst scien tic expedition aimed at collecting and cataloguing natural life in the New W o rld. His instructions were simple: â€œWe are informed,â€ the king wrote, â€œthat more plants, herbs, and medicinal seeds are to be found there than elsewhere.â€ Indeed, from Hernndezâ€™s mission, a massive wealth of information on the natural environment of New Spain emerged. Most of this work conveyed me dicinal uses for New World fauna and nora, a seeming complement to the em p ireâ€™s quest for benecial and protable resources. Yet as historians Mara M. Portuondo and Jorge Caizares-Esguerra have argued, the technological and scientic exchanges characterizing this period were also fundamental to the emergence of an early Scientic Revolution. Ã¾ In a period of great technological innovation and contentious humanist f ervor, Iberian scientists like Hernndez were some of the rst to establish
pragmatic modes of inquiry that challenged religious and cultural prejudice. Historians have actively debated how the early successes and failures of such expeditions laid the groundwork for new academic faculties, scholarly communities, and scientic practices across the Americas. ese contributions have been neglected across the centuries by scholars outside the Iberian world. In their place, a â€œGrand Narrativeâ€ of scientic progress has overshadowed the negotiation between imperial interests, humanist science, and the inclusion of indigenous conscripts in Colonial America. Ã¾ I int ervene in this debate by following Portuondoâ€™s call for an â€œantigrand narrativeâ€ of Western progress. She argues that this approach oers â€œan op portunity to consciously frame the history of science and technology in Latin A m erica . . . and contribute an important corrective to the asymmetry of history of science and technology, where much too oen, the focus has been on p r ogress, discovery, innovation and invention.â€ For Portuondo and a new generation of historians of science, such correctives must instead be framed as microhistories, with a cohesive lens that is inclusive of disempowered in digenous peoples, but that also addresses the failures of scientic innovations a n d their colonial intentions. Rather than attempting to paint broad strokes concerning the trajectory of colonial science in the Americas, a focus on the individual protagonists of early expeditions is therefore in order. Ã¾ Mo re specically, the writing of microhistories entails acknowledging that Iberian travelers relied heavily, and oen perilously, on indigenous experts, interpreters, and illustrators for their expeditions. Indeed, natural historians were no dierent than what other chroniclers of the New World encountered, particularly as colonization demanded more nexible forms of integration, as similation, and mutual acculturation. As Hernndezâ€™s trajectory suggests, the relative power imbalance and mutual distrust held by Spanish and indigenous members of the New Spain expedition oen generated more failures than suc cesses in the accumulation of knowledge. Failure, however, is also instructive, a s n otions of progress typically eliminate allegedly erroneous, distorting, and overzealous ideas. Indeed, scientic practices are dened by knowing what not to do in the eld or the lab, just as much as what works theoretically. e landscape of New Spain, however, posed for Hernndez a bitter reversal of this scientic order. Ã¾ I addres s the above components by framing Hernndezâ€™s trajectory as part of what I call an episode of â€œnarrative politics.â€ Narrative politics portrays the institutional and cultural connicts that emerged from opposing interests in Renaissance Spain. More specically, I use Hernndezâ€™s case to frame the struggles of Spanish naturalists in the face of changing priorities within the
Spanish Empire in the Americas. In an eort to establish boundaries and ob jectives for imperial science, natural historians participated in reconguring s e veral assumptions about nature, the New World, and the potential of scien tic discoveries. In their negotiation of political, ideological, and experimental c h allenges, natural historians such as Hernndez attempted to not only make an argument for the value of science, but also to use naturalist inquiry as a mode of reconciliation between the Old and New World. As the only naturalist I consider who was not part of a monastic order, Hernndez was the most suc cessful in terms of achieving institutional support, if only at a rhetorical level. H i s scholarly obscurity, however, is also a sign of his great failure to achieve a justication for scientic inquiry on its own terms. Ã¾ A er documenting the narrative context of Hernndezâ€™s university training and his mission, I oer an interpretive analysis of his reactions to early support and the subsequent cancellation of his expedition. Furthermore, as an illus tration of an â€œantigrand narrativeâ€ to Western notions of progress, Hernn dezâ€™s story highlights how even monumental samples of specimens from New S p ain were not enough to fully conrm natural history as the scientic arm of imperial conquest. By itself, naturalist observation was not a compelling enough narrative. Indeed, Hernndezâ€™s â€œfailureâ€ illustrates the development and decline of Spanish natural history in early modern Spain more generally. Hernndezâ€™s mission can be described as one of the closing chapters in natural historiansâ€™ early attempts to engage in the cultivation of greater nature-society interdependence between Europe and the Americas. From that moment for ward, the relation between naturalists and empire would only grow far more co n tentious.Narrative Politics: Language, Empire, and Science in the Sixteenth CenturySixteenth-century Spain was rife with layers of connict. Ever since the year of wonders that was f, the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula witnessed a series of connicting cultural and political narratives. As humanist principles trickled in from neighboring Italy and reports of new lands and peoples nooded royal oces, Spain was on the verge of more than one Renaissance. e heroic age of colonial exploits also paralleled a golden age of humanist science. At stake in the cultural changes ensuing from Spainâ€™s two fronts were complementary visions of what national grandeur consisted of and how Spaniards at home and abroad envisioned their place in these changes. By the time Francisco Hernndez was born in Toledo in the year fbf, Spainâ€™s most prestigious in -
stitutes of higher learning had been radically transformed by the work of the noted humanist Antonio de Nebrija. e transformation did not arrive without controversy. Ã¾ Fa mous for the celebrated Grammatica Antonii Nebrissensis (â€œGrammar of the Castilian Language â€), which he had dedicated to Queen Isabella in the wake of Columbusâ€™s departure to the Indies in August f, Nebrija le an indelible mark on classical and Renaissance thought in Spain. Among his con tributions, the study of grammar and language stands out, not least because of N e brijaâ€™s injunction to the Queen and his readers that language was â€œthe companion of empire.â€ Nebrijaâ€™s work has been studied by Renaissance scholars as part of a broader political project aimed at unifying the vastly dierent cultures of Spain. Indeed, his prophetic calls for a national tongue and xed rules of grammar have also been framed as a precursor to the pragmatic policies used by Spain to study and subdue the peoples of the Americas. Yet Nebrijaâ€™s most lasting legacy may be his transformation of the educational curriculum at one of Spainâ€™s premier institutions, the Universidad de Alcal de Henares. Ã¾ Ocia lly founded in f, Alcal was a hub of humanist learning for six teenth-century scholars. A f-year-old Hernndez arrived there in fb, gradu ating from the Faculty of Medicine in fbt. e climate around Hernndezâ€™s education paralleled Alcalâ€™s transformation from a small university town into one of the most important cities in all of Spain. Hernndez was an emblematic product of the universityâ€™s emphasis on the study of grammar and language as keys to all sources of learning. Biblical philology, Greek and Latin natural history, and medical anatomy each had a vital role in every studentâ€™s education, as did the collective ethos of scientic humanism modeled aer Nebrijaâ€™s own eorts. No less important in Alcalâ€™s development was its role as a repository of philosophical and practical knowledge from across Europe, typied by its reception of Erasmian thought. e combination of classical revisionism, as well as a Christian Humanist drive for social transformation, made Alcal a formidable venue to train the nascent empireâ€™s leading theorists, jurists, and practitioners. Yet perhaps the most interesting puzzle behind Alcalâ€™s innuence on generations of Renaissance scholars was its negotiation between scientic inquiry and imperial politics. Ã¾ e co ncept of narrative politics proves useful here to understand the con text in which Hernndez matured intellectually and professionally. Spainâ€™s co m plex tapestry of religious, nationalist, and imperial interests posed several challenges for humanist scholarship. While distinct narratives of millenarian, xenophobic, and expansionary character dened the Spanish colonial project, within Spain their relationship was less than complementary. What seemed like
r interlocking agendas on the surface were in fact ideologies in constant com petition. At Alcal, theological and philological training were deemed equally n e cessary elds of study, whether they were used by monastic orders destined for the colonies, or learned physicians who would remain on the continent. Both settings were thought to pose distinct cultural dangers. Fantastic reports of demonic creatures inhabiting the West Indies were a staple of missionary training. Within Spain, the matter was further complicated by two enduring legacies: rst, anti-Semitic and anti-Arabic sentiment in the country remained rampant; and second, a specter of heresy followed the appropriation of Renais sance practices, due particularly to their links with dissatised humanists and r ef ormers in the rest of Europe. Spanish humanists, so the story goes, had to possess a precise scholarly language, lest they be accused by the Inquisition of being Marranos (converted Jews and Muslims), or worse, associated with Protestant reformers. Ã¾ In spite of these challenges, the curriculum at Alcal sought to take both a ncient and contemporary sources of knowledge on their own terms. e reevaluation of classical texts was innuenced as much by reports coming from the Americas, just as the sheer novelty of the New World was made manage able through the lters of Greek and Latin wisdom. Two layers of narrative p o litics begin to emerge here: Spanish intellectuals considered themselves the inheritors of ancient sources of political knowledge, capable of the greatest scholarly and imperial conquests; much of this conquering spirit was made real, however, by the military, material, and scientic advances that accompa nied colonization of the Americas. Ã¾ Ancient natural histories, as much as early reports from the New World, p layed an innuential role in Hernndezâ€™s formation. His interest in the natural worldâ€™s uses and underlying parallels to the human realm were cultivated by close readings of Plinyâ€™s Naturalis Historia , a massive encyclopedia of ancient naturalist observations that Hernndez spent eleven years translating from Latin into Spanish. Similarly, Dioscoridesâ€™s De Materia Medica (an ancient encyclopedic compendium of herbal medicine) shaped Hernndezâ€™s empirical sensibilities as a physician. Ã¾ Within Alcal, both Pliny and Dioscorides were held up as examples to emu late and surpass. e court historian Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo and the m er chant herbalist Nicolas Monardes were two of the rst prominent gures to attempt such an impersonation. Both Oviedo and Monardes were products of key events informing the Spanish Renaissance: the former was innuenced by the military and cultural reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula; the latter, a contemporary of Hernndez, was also a product of Alcal, who pursued phar -
f macology as an economic venture for a growing European market. e two men shaped naturalist observation in the Americas through accounts based on rsthand experience and attention to the possible medical, strategic, and economic uses of natural resources. Ã¾ With this background in mind it is dicult to argue against the assertion t hat Renaissance thought in Spainâ€”embodied in the development of Alcal and similar academiesâ€”was driven by the increasing reports and accounts coming from the Americas. Ever since Nebrijaâ€™s quasi-prophetic injunction, however, what is less certain is whether Spanish humanists unquestioningly accepted being subservient to imperial ends. Given the depth of classical knowledge and the spirit of adventure cultivated at this institution, no selfproclaimed humanist scholar would have been neutral on the politics of their time. ere is therefore a complex political struggle at work in the reception of Renaissance thought in Spain that can be traced to the encounter with the Americas, the culture of science informing agents of colonization, and per ceived threats of growing geopolitical competition across Europe. Ã¾ Hernndez, perhaps like countless others, found himself caught between r ival forces and interests. Molded in the image of Nebrijaâ€™s precocious and am bitious educational reforms, Hernndez sought to bring about a New World e q uivalent to the classic works of Pliny and Dioscorides. In a letter to the king, dated December fbf, Hernndez conveyed that classical erudition by exhort ing Philip to envision with him the missionâ€™s potential: â€œLet us suppose that you a r e Alexander, and name me Aristotle because of what you have commanded me to do in these parts.â€ He despised the frivolous character of the expedi tions led by Oviedo, and the supercial accounts of nora and fauna made by M o nardes, hoping to one day lead his own expeditions and transform natu ralist scholarship. Yet at the same time, Hernndez was sent to New Spain as en v oy of King Philip II for the express purpose, per his instructions, of sending back to Spain, â€œall the medicines or herbs and such like that you may see in those parts, provided that they are noteworthy in your judgment, and do not already grow in these realms.â€ Rivaled only perhaps by the likes of Bartolom de Las Casas or Bernardino de Sahagn, Hernndez saw his mission as part of a greater civilizational project that he could help Spain embrace. Ã¾ What Hernndez lacked in millenarian fervor, however, he made up for in h umanist optimism. As I will show below, Hernndezâ€™s vision of what the natural world of the Americas held within was perceived to be at odds with the strategic visions of the empire. Despite his great intellect and ambition, the connict Hernndez encountered between his two mastersâ€”science and empireâ€”has le his legacy unknown in the English-speaking world. At stake
in recovering the narrative politics behind his mission is disclosing the spirit of inquiry that led Hernndez to take up the banner of natural history and the ideological context that reined in this drive.Searching for Natureâ€™s Secrets: Contexts and Contents of the Hernndez Expeditione botanical expedition to New Spain, led by Hernndez from fbr to fb, was by his account a failure. Hernndezâ€™s later writings, far more than his earlier accounts, reveal a man who by the end of his journey felt frail, frus trated, and politically stymied. In his Epistle , H er nndez laments how the great aspirations he held prior to his departure had been foiled by a perfect storm of worldly obstacles. Scant resources, treacherous native interpreters, and the intrigues of court ocials all have their place in his declaration. Yet the story of the Hernndez Expedition had several other layers working in his favor. For one, while the original volumes containing thousands of exem plars from Hernndezâ€™s natural history of New Spain are now lostâ€”victim t o a re in the Imperial Library at El Escorial in ftfâ€”they were visited and consulted for almost frr years by natural historians in Spain and across Europe. Ã¾ Additionally, despite Hernndezâ€™s skepticism that his works would ever see t he light of the day, manuscript copies made by Nardo Antonio Recchi (ap pointed by Philip II to this task upon Hernndezâ€™s return) remain preserved to t hi s day and were used in ftfb by the Dominican Fray Francisco Ximenez to publish in Mexico an abridged collection called Quatro libros de la Naturaleza (â€œFour Books on Nature â€). Over the centuries, this and several other editions have established Hernndez as a foremost chronicler of medical knowledge in the New World and architect of distributing new plantsâ€”from nowers to cropsâ€”into the Old World. Ã¾ Where Hernndezâ€™s medical innuence begins, however, his virtues as a n atural historian and humanist seem to come to an end. Why is this? Why do scholars today know so much of Hernndez the physician and so little of Hernndez the Renaissance philosopher and â€œNew World Plinyâ€? e ques tion itself begs exploring hundreds of volumes and works far too numerous f o r this book. One route to begin unraveling this question can be found within Hernndezâ€™s Epistle to Arias Montano , one of the last documents written upon his return from the Americas. e Epistle is a work of just over frr lines, where in Latin prose Hernndez confesses to his lifetime friend, Benito Arias Mon -
tano, the impotence he felt in the face of the monumental task given to him, the many pragmatic challenges he encountered on the ground, and the subsequent intrigues that pulled him from the kingâ€™s allegedly good graces. Ã¾ In the Epistle , H ernndez presents the story of his decline in the guise of a tribute to Arias Montanoâ€™s own travels. As an envoy of Philip II for the super vision of a new Polyglot Bible, Arias Montano had translated, compiled, and p a rticipated in the Bibleâ€™s printing in Antwerp, then under Spanish occupa tion. Both men returned from abroad in apparent disrepute in the eyes of the Cr o wn. Arias Montano had been subjected to a great controversy over the Protestant and Hebrew texts used for his translation, coming under the scru tiny of the Inquisition, but he was freed of all charges in fbr. Hernndez escaped any formal accusation or charge of wrongdoing while on his expedition, b u t historians have long suspected that part of Hernndezâ€™s own misgivings over his place in the Imperial Court resulted from suspicions over his familyâ€™s past as Jewish converts (conversos ). Additionally, the increasing persecution of humanist scholars he was friends or associated with, like Arias Montano, seem to have made Hernndez far more sensitive to rejection. Despite the relative autonomy Hernndez retained upon his return to Spainâ€”he was appointed as physician to the kingâ€™s son, Philip III, withdrawing from court life shortly thereaerâ€”the Renaissance spirit that had shaped his ambitions had been clearly cut short. Ã¾ Ho w exactly then did Hernndez assess his mission in New Spain? Hernn dez had been appointed by Philip II with the title of protomedico o r p hysicianin-chief. As a kind of public health ocial, Hernndez was charged with, as he tells it in his second letter to the king, â€œthe expedient description [con toda brevedad ] of this land,â€ bringing to his oce, â€œthe restraint and moderation such a new land demands.â€ e marvels he witnessed, however, drew far more excitement than what â€œrestraint and moderationâ€ would suggest. Indeed, the ideological import of his role is described by Hernndez in his third letter to King Philip II, where in assessing the progress of his natural history of New Spain, he extols the â€œgreat virtues, and . . . incredible and immense usefulnessâ€ of the specimens and landscapes he is tirelessly documenting by way of surveys (see gure ). Here, he proclaims the king to be as great as Alexander, and, for himself, he asks, â€œName me Aristotle because of what you have commanded me to do in these parts.â€ e enchantment of the natural historian as hand maiden to the empire, however, did not last long. Ã¾ Tur ning to the Epistle , Hernndez frames the development of his political and personal troubles in a far more eloquent way:
[You] trod the frozen lands as you traveled toward the Arctic; while I, searching for the secrets of nature in distant regions, sailedâ€”not slowlyâ€” to the West Indies, pledged to obey the clement mandate of Philip, ruler of the West, who lays claim to the lacerated earth, who institutes holy laws and renovates decaying ones, who destroys the unjust and the hos tile in the name of Christ. u s aer numerous adventures, aer holding on to my cargo, which I treated with care as I traveled by land and by sea, I have been driven by so many misfortunes. . . . ere are those who snap at my heels and spread the poison of envy, who try to damn my innocuous labors, which they will not see, orâ€”if Figure . Anonymous drawing of Francisco Hernndez as â€œEl Preguntadorâ€ (n.d.). Courtesy of NIVOLA libros y ediciones, S.L., Espaa.
b they read themâ€”even understand: they do not deserve to know what the earth conceals, yet the mass of good people have to hear the venomous outpourings from their wretched mouths. . . . I pass over the intense heat, and the extreme cold, barely tolerable in any way by the frail or sick, not to mention the forested hills and impass able mountains, rivers, swamps, vast lakes, and expansive lagoons. I w i ll not talk about the perverse Indian guides, nor will I speak of all their fraudulence, or terrible lies, which caught me o guard more than once; how they played tricks on me, which I took care to avoid with all the tact at my disposal; and how oen did I get the properties and even the names of plants wrong because I depended on false information from an interpreter. . . . e unpublished Epistle , meant solely for the eyes of Arias Montano it seems, contains explicit references to Hernndezâ€™s physical and psychological travails across New Spain, as well as a deep sense of despair over his legacy. ese senti ments are buttressed by veiled allusions to the uncertain fate of his â€œcargoâ€ (his m a nuscripts, presumably), his commitment to â€œinnocuousâ€ (that is, herbal ist) observations and projects (see gure b), the deep mistrust he felt he was t h e victim of and which he equally felt toward his interpreters, and, rather cryptically, the ambitious conviction that he had discovered something worldchangingâ€”â€œwhat the earth conceals â€â€”in his time abroad. Ã¾ As V arey points out, â€œNo one knows who [Hernndezâ€™s] detractors were, or if they existed outside Hernndezâ€™s anxieties. e dual fears of being misunder stood and being attacked . . . became something of a leitmotif in Hernndezâ€™s let t ers.â€ Given what we know of Hernndezâ€™s humanist upbringing, the po litical and ideological constraints of the Imperial Court and colonial life were s ur ely a departure from the learned discourses that characterized the climate at Alcal. Despite Philip IIâ€™s professed interests in science, public health, and even the occult, the monarchâ€™s imperial obligations certainly demanded far more economic and logistic support than Hernndezâ€™s missions to America. Moreover, colonial life was notorious for its decentralized relation to dictates from the Imperial Court. Punishment for refusing a set of orders from the kingâ€”given the distanceâ€”could oen take years of litigious exchanges. Co lonial bureaucracies, as John Phelan has shown, were aptly described through t h e formula, â€œI obey but do not executeâ€ (â€œObedezco pero no cumplo â€). If the political playing eld within Spain was already stacked against Hernndez, he would fare no better in the New World. Diculties in both urban and rural settings, he tells us, equally delayed his progress and dampened his spirits:
t I cannot begin to count the mistakes of the artists, who were to illustrate my work, and yet were the greatest part of my care, so that nothing, from the point of view of a fat thumb, would be dierent from what was being copied, but rather all would be as it was in reality. And the delays of the ocials, who, time aer time, when I need to hurry, Interfered with my enterprises and frustrated my eorts! What do I say? Why did it fall on me to test the medicinal plants on myself, And at the same time put my life at great risk? . . . Oh, why talk of hunger and thirst? or of the thousands of nasty insects everywhere that lacerated my tender skin with their bloodsucking stings? e sullen guides and the inept servants? e ingenuity of the Indians in the wild, who could not be persuaded to reveal a single secret of nature, and who were so insincere? Figure b. Rivea corymbosa , Francisco Hernndez, Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae the saurus, seu plantarum, animalium, mineralium historia (ft). Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
Having arrived in New Spain in fbf, Hernndez found himself in a complex social environment. His letters detail both the byzantine bureaucracies set up by Spanish colonizers and the latent resentment that remained among indig enous peoples. Even the artists, geographers, and doctors commissioned by H er nndez for his three-year eld journeyâ€”both of native and Spanish ori ginâ€”found themselves subject to the manâ€™s diculties. Given only a fraction o f t he resources he was promised, Hernndez rarely had more to pay them with than the room and board oered by missions and hospitals the travelers would take refuge in. Despite great challenges, Hernndezâ€™s desperation does not betray any irreverence toward the Imperial Court. Far from it, he goes to great lengths to express his devotion above and beyond the court advisors and colonial administrators he fears are detaining him. As he begs to Philip II in his seventh (and by far longest) letter from March fb, detailing the many needs of the expedition: [Over] there [in Spain] no one understands the size and diculty of this undertaking, going through a world as large as this with a ne-tooth comb. . . . For all this I do not ask for even a penny, unless you deem oth erwise, for I have worked myself like an Indian day and night on nothing bu t this work. I would like to be given due credence for what I say is needed . . . in the proper remuneration of the Indians, for nothing in the world could persuade me not to speak the truth and speak with convic tion, in order that this work not be unworthy of the foremost prince of t h e world. . . . If this is granted to me, I prefer, at the risk of losing Your Majestyâ€™s grace, to nish it at the latest within two years from the time these resources might reach me . . . If Your Majesty is pleased that it is thus and takes eect, agree to order the same to the presidents of the other royal audiencias [appellate courts] so that I may be accommodated everywhere I may travel . . . without anyoneâ€™s imposing limitations on me or putting impediments in my way.Hernndezâ€™s stay in New Spain was rife with disappointments, as well as threats to his health and life. Particularly deleterious was the shortage of indigenous herbalists to help Hernndez assess the qualities of collected samples, oen leaving him as the sole test subject of unpredictable substances. Notwithstand ing the dangers, Hernndezâ€™s words portray a man possessed by the poten tial wisdom and value of his many sacrices. Both his physical and monetary los s es paled in comparison to the great story of the New World he was intent on producing. He poured his soul into pleasing the king back in Spain, al -
though whether his devotion was demanded out of interest, fear, or suspicion of heresy remains unknown. Ã¾ In o ne of his nal letters to Philip II (ff from February fbt), Hernndez tells of his desire to postpone his return to Spain, â€œso that I might experience all that which I have written about [the many volumes on herbal medicine], and have observed in the hospitals, which I have visited freely, with no per sonal interest at stake, other than what anybody walking around the city would exp er ience, thus I could inquire and perfect everything, and clear o all that remained for me to do.â€ Indeed, Hernndezâ€™s convictions amounted to thou sands of pages of text, illustrations, charts, and ethnographic observations of N e w Spainâ€™s natural environments, an unprecedented collection of natural and cultural knowledge. What remained at the end of Hernndez journey, however, would prove far more consuming than all he had surmounted.Through Imperial Eyes: Rescuing the Hernndez Missione tortuous journey of the Hernndez manuscripts, not to say of the man himself, shows that something about the kind of work produced by natural historians had been deemed irrelevant or threatening to the empire. More over, Hernndezâ€™s own frustrations show that the man had not simply been f o rgotten during his time in New Spain. Rather, several interests came to play in cutting short the length of his mission, as well as making that mission far more dicult to conduct. Ironically, the increasing challenges Hernn dez faced seemed to have only strengthened his conviction that the value of t h e New Worldâ€™s natural history was not simply monetary, but scientically world-changing. What then were some of the eects of Hernndezâ€™s mission in the Americas for the study of natural history? How did his work stack up against previous eorts? Ã¾ Fo r starters, the Hernndez expedition was neither the rst nor the last scientic journey of the New Worldâ€™s natural environment. It did represent, however, the rst ocial mission sanctioned by the empire for, if only in part, scholarly ends. Earlier works of natural history, such as those compiled by Oviedo, Las Casas, or Sahagn, had dierent goals in mind. Oviedo had seen in the natural world a locus of exotic forces urgently in need of Spanish inter pretation; Las Casas saw a paradisiacal space in need of ecclesiastic protection f r om rapacious Spaniards. Likewise, previous scientic endeavorsâ€”speci cally those by Sahagn and Monardesâ€”had anthropological or commercial a im s behind them. Despite some proclivities and cultural synergy with his na tive informants and subjects, Sahagnâ€™s goal had always been the eradication
of pagan rituals; Monardes, himself a stakeholder in commercial enterprises seeking New World botanical remedies, had never even set foot in the Ameri cas. If only for its ambition, the Hernndez mission set the stage for a more contentious relationship between science and politics. Ã¾ Her nndez had the particular distinction of being the rst politically sanctioned man of science and letters sent to explore the natural world in the A m ericas. His predecessors had been members of political and religious factions. ose who immediately followed him continued to reproduce a pattern o f cultural hegemony or religious subversion. I should be careful to point out here that Hernndez did not see himself as any kind of liberator or cultural moderate in terms of his stated assumptions and goals. He had no romantic notions of indigenous medicinal practices, or overzealous desire to destroy the sources of knowledge that preceded the arrival of Spanish colonizers. He was rst and foremost a physician, a title that in his time entailed profound knowl edge of ancient Greek and Latin writings, as well as the empirical innovations o f R enaissance Europe. ese tools allowed Hernndez to see the great wealth of knowledge and experiences that the New World could proer. He not only rejected the prevailing attitude of dismissing the centuries of botanical knowl edge available to indigenous doctors and herbalists; he ultimately attempted to in t egrate that knowledge into a recongured natural classication. Ã¾ Hernndez truly was a Renaissance man, and his mission, so he thought, h ad the great potential of making the Renaissance a global project. Yet given the narrative context and politics that gave birth to his mission, Hernndezâ€™s philosophical and scientic sensibilities were subject to ulterior ideological forces within the imperial establishment. In his third letter to Philip II, he confesses that â€œall great and new things always provoke opposition and jeal ousy, and this work has not escaped either, and there is thus further work, w hic h has robbed me of no little time in the service of your Majesty, which is my continuing concern.â€ His search for natureâ€™s secrets did not square neatly with the changing administrative challenges of the New World and the geopo litical circumstances the empire faced in Europe. Why then bother with this o b scure gure? e political fate of Hernndezâ€™s life and works is part of a criti cal piece in the larger puzzle of Spainâ€™s attempt to conquer the natural world of t h e Americas. For one, the relative paucity of workâ€”both historical and theoreticalâ€”on his contributions is indicative of the larger set of grand narratives t h at historians like Portuondo and Caizares-Esguerra have extolled scholars to overcome. As seen throughout his Epistle , Hernndez was a man of many talents. His wish was that, upon his return, Spaniards would celebrate his great scientic ndings, not encounter a broken spirit reined in by politics:
frr Indeed, I gave twenty living plants, many seeds, and innumerable medi cines, to the viceroy to send to Philip Augustus so that they could be c a rried with the utmost care back to Spain where they will adorn the gardens and hillsides; and guided throughout New Spain by the brightest star in the sky, cities, and settlements, mountains, and rivers. It is a very desirable thing for our people, that there may be in the known world lands lled with such riches, called by so many names. . . . erefore, if these writings of mine are to earn the approbation of an other man and cause others to consult them, who can be trusted to give t h e work all the care and scrutiny it requires?us an antigrand narrative of scientic and technological development in the Americas must by all accounts take a somber pause at the Hernndez Af fair. e cohesive character of his project, blending European practices with in dig enous classications, points to a greater network of scientic and intellectual exchange. I see two lessons in these frustrated exchanges: rst, the H er nndez Aair conveys the dependent, not just independent, character of scientic practices and high politics. Hernndezâ€™s interlocutors, so he tells us, oen balked at his pleas and suggestions; yet others, particulary his cadre of il lustrators, contributed to creating one of the greatest compilations of naturalist k n owledge in the New and Old Worlds. Second, that Hernndez actively docu mented, not just lamented, his great diculties shows that scientic progress in t h e early Renaissance was not merely a matter of great discoveries and suc cessesâ€”many failures also informed the assumptions, renections, and trajecto ries of European scientists. Hernndezâ€™s ambitious goals were themselves sub ject to imperial approval, calling into question the extent to which economic in t erests shaped the empireâ€™s motivations for the expedition. Ã¾ is p ortrait of Hernndezâ€™s life, training, and the trajectory of his mission to New Spain shows that natural history in the sixteenth century was a highly coveted discipline. e type of preparation that naturalists like Hernndez were exposed to at the dawn of the New Worldâ€™s colonization helped shape a mind that was as empirically thorough as it was philosophically resilient. e connicting demands of cataloguing a land with innite potential economic and scientic resources, however, placed Hernndez under great ideological duress. We can speculate that the narrative politics Hernndez encountered at the height of his professional career may have generated doubt behind his faith in Renaissance humanism and science. Yet what the available evidence shows is that this suspicion did not materialize into dejection. Hernndez may have doubted the future of his work, or whether it would even be known outside
frf of the archives it was destined to be held in for over frr years. What he had no hesitation about was how he himself had been shaped and perhaps even scarred by the experience. Just as the â€œscarred earthâ€ he had documented was owned by Philip II, no political or ideological obstacle could take away from Hernndez the knowledge that his work may have even surpassed the contri butions of the ancients. Just as tragic, however, were the prospects of being s ur passed himself, particularly by others he felt lacked the necessary vision and passion.Discovering an American Natural PhilosophyHernndezâ€™s trajectory is a story of multiple political implications for the Span ish Empire, as well as the future work employed by natural historians. His p hi losophical sensibilities and scientic resilience make Hernndez a formi dable case for studying the eects of the Renaissanceâ€™s encounter with the New W o rld, the political channels and interests espoused by his visions of nature, and the narrative politics at work in the marriage between scientic inquiry and imperial ideology. I therefore see Hernndez as an enduring example of the political, normative, and epistemological challenges behind the exploration of nature-society interaction. Ã¾ Mo re specically, the Hernndez episode sheds further light on the histori cal origins of a modernist attitude toward nature, particularly regarding the in nuence of lived-experiences in the New World. Within the history of political a n d environmental thought, several narrative layers resonate vividly through this episode: rst, both humanism and colonization act as the immediate back drop against which Hernndezâ€™s mission is sanctioned. His search for natureâ€™s s e crets may have been made possible through a certain subduing of the earth to human interests, but it generated a profound sense of responsibility for said secrets. Second, the Hernndez Aair conveys a shi in imperial policy, from scientic and naturalist innovation, toward the strictly monetary and instru mental value of nature. It is arguable whether the empire ever intended scien tic inquiry to be conducted for its own sake, but arming such a one-sided deni t ion would be to fall into the grand narrative of science as an enterprise independent from politics and ideology. e Hernndez Aair oers quite the contrary picture. Finally, and perhaps most contentiously, Hernndezâ€™s mis sion can be described as one of the closing chapters in natural historyâ€™s at tempts to engage in the cultivation of greater nature-society interdependence. Ã¾ In t he years that followed Hernndezâ€™s return to Spain, the study of natural
fr history in the Americas would take on new forms and advocates. e Jesuits Jos de Acosta and Bernab Cobo, for example, would pursue a natural his tory of the New World in an evangelizing endeavor to cultivate Christianity a s a natural philosophy. Acosta, in particular, drew heavily from Hernndezâ€™s works, recommending these writings â€œto any of my readers who may wish to know in more detail, and more perfectly, about the plants of the Indies, es pecially for medicinal purposes.â€ Acostaâ€™s admiration betrays here that shi toward new mediums of expression. Hernndezâ€™s work may have been able to capture the still unbroken links between the human and nonhuman worlds that made the Americas such a fascinating realm. Yet Hernndezâ€™s goals, far from overcoming still-dominant indigenous worldviews, only made the task of a distinct natural philosophy more dicult. e goal for Acosta and other mis sionary scientists, as Andrs Prieto points out, was that â€œ[being] in America wa s n ot a necessary condition to theorize about its nature . . . the information about specic American phenomena was only a point of departure for intel lectual operations that could be carried out in any place at any time.â€ e next generation of natural historians saw that mode of inquiry as far more useful for the salvation of humanityâ€™s souls than the medicinal properties that could be applied to both bodies and intellects. Ã¾ It wa s not until the Bourbon Reforms of the eighteenth century that Hernn dezâ€™s work and analytic style would be rediscovered by theorists and scientists o n b oth sides of the Atlantic. Creole scientists and philosophers alike, many inspired by Hernndezâ€™s story, had taken up the mantra of a naturalist science that sought to â€œperfect everything, and clear o all that remained . . . to do.â€ at temporal and spatial scope aloneâ€”palpable signs of the manâ€™s vibrancy and intellectâ€”is worth exploring and sharing with audiences the world over. erefore, in the next and nal chapter, I look at one of the last natural histori ans of the sixteenth century, Jos de Acosta, and how his natural history served t o es tablish a kind of liberation theology, leading the way forward into a new revolution in science and judgment.
5 b rAnd what shall we say of the vast Magdalena River, which enters the sea between Santa Marta and Cartagena and is rightly called the Great River? When I sailed upon it I was amazed to see that its currents could be observed clearly as far as ten miles out to sea, and even the waves and immensity of the ocean could not obliterate them. But, speaking of rivers, that great river that some call the river of the Amazons, others the Maran, others the River of Orellana, which our Spanish compatriots rst discovered and navigated, silences them all; indeed, I do not know whether to call it a river or a sea.Jos de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the IndiesAt a seemingly innocuous moment of his Historia Natural y Moral de las In dias , t he Jesuit father Jos de Acosta tells of the surprise he encountered during hi s rst journey to the New World. Worried over the allegedly uninhabitable torrid zones of the earth lying across the equator, he was perplexed and de lighted at what he found: â€œAs I had read the exaggerations of the philosophers a n d poets, I was convinced that when I reached the equator I would not be able to bear the dreadful heat; but the reality was so dierent that at the very time I was crossing I felt such cold . . . I will confess here that I laughed and jeered at Aristotleâ€™s meteorological theories and his philosophy, seeing that in the very place where, according to his rules, everything must be burning and on re, I and all my companions were cold.â€ Acosta wrote these meditations on the distinct character of the New World in the last decades of Spainâ€™s sixteenthcentury conquest of the Americas. At that time, a continent-wide campaign of cultural colonization, economic subjugation, and religious conversion was well
fr under way. His story, however, represents the closing stage of a more distinct process whereby Spanish thinkers made the New Worldâ€™s natural environment familiar to European sensibilities for various imperial ends. Ã¾ is n al chapter focuses on Acostaâ€™s empirical and intellectual contribu tions to the development of the early Spanish Empire. What I seek to recon struct is the ethos of his magnum opus, the Historia N a tural y Moral de las Indias , as a philosophical and experimental exploration of the natural land scape of the New World. Acosta greatly valued his experience in the Americas, s e eing the study of natural history as an analytic narrative informing both the Spanish imperial project and the scientic development of a natural philosophy. In recent years, his contributions to the early colonial literature of Latin A m erica, as well as to what was a maturing form of missionary science, have been increasingly documented. Yet Acostaâ€™s work as a philosopher and theo rist of political culture does not enjoy similar attention. e chapter therefore exa min es an oen-overlooked dimension of Acostaâ€™s thought: the distinctly modernist conception of judgment he employs to dierentiate between the cultural, scientic, and theological lenses Jesuit missionaries were to employ in their readings of the New World. Ã¾ Fo r Acosta, proper judgmentâ€”or what he describes as â€œdiscovering the true features of Natureâ€â€”is not dened by mere naturalistic or theological study; rather, judgment emerges from the reconciliation of Scripture and experience, a synthesis made possible by the world historical encounter be tween Europe and the Americas. For the development of this conception o f j udgment to emerge, however, one had to rst endure the disorienting experiences of philosophical wonder. My argument here is that in challeng ing the theses of both classical and biblical sources, Acostaâ€™s natural history l a ys the groundwork for an experimental conception of judgment based on philosophical observation. As he maintains in chapter of the text, â€œPersons who enjoy discovering the true features of this Nature, which is so varied and abundant, will receive the pleasure that history gives and history that is all the greater insofar as the events in it are made not by men but by the Creator. Anyone who goes further, and comes to understand the natural causes of eects, will be exercising good philosophy.â€ In the various vignettes he employs to â€œunderstand the natural causes of eects,â€ contemporary observers c a n also nd in Acosta an interpretive sensibility that is far more advanced than in earlier Spanish missionaries (for example, Bartolom de Las Casas and Bernardino de Sahagn), and that will later be echoed by proponents of the Scientic Revolution.
frb Ã¾ Although Acosta was committed to defending the spiritual objectives of the em pire, the range of analytic tools he employs to make sense of what is on the ground surpasses what his predecessors were able to accomplish. To that end, the style and content of his narrative demand greater attention from political theorists concerned with excavating the imperial commitments and ideals of early modern European thought. Doing so, however, also entails broadening denitions of what is â€œcanonicalâ€ in the history of political thought and how Acosta redenes the interpretive standards of the early modern period. Ã¾ I beg in the chapter by situating Acostaâ€™s reception in early modern intel lectual circles at the cusp of a wave of narratives exposing greater numbers o f Europeans to American nature. Written for more than just missionary explorers, Acostaâ€™s writings beneted from a growing voracity for informa tion about the New World, as well as mounting disputes between Catholics a n d Protestants over the bases of the New Worldâ€™s colonization. Natural his tory became for Acosta a vehicle to explain both the radical newness of the A m erican landscape and its implicit moral potential for imperial theology. I follow this contextual background by discussing the narrative structure of Acostaâ€™s Historia Natural and its approach to the interpretation of New World nature. Long regarded as a systematic defense of Catholic theology against indigenous idolatry, the book contains elements that simultaneously challenge and accommodate classical teachings with the seeming incom mensurability of the Americas. In this process, Acosta exhibits a kind of nar rative dissonance from the narrative elements I have so far discussed, weav ing together indigenous and European explanations of natural events as his em p irical evidence and developing an experimental science in the defense of Christian faith. e chapter ends with a discussion of the Historia â€™s merits for its inclusion in the canon of early modern political thought, specically, its relation to the project of empire building. More than any of the other authors I have considered thus far, Acosta eectively bridges two critical traditions in the spectrum of early modern thinkers: the religious and the rational. In clarifying the links between these two realms, one can say more about the New World than either camp can in isolation.Once upon a Time: A Narrative History of the Conquest of NatureToward the end of the long sixteenth century, Acostaâ€™s conception of natural philosophy was disseminated across Europe through English-, Italian-, and French-language translations of the Historia Natural . His work was picked up
frt by early modern political theorists such as Francis Bacon and John Locke (in addition to chroniclers, missionaries, and naturalists from the continent such as Pierre dâ€™Avity and Georges Louis-Leclerc, Comte de Buon); both Bacon and Locke developed their theoretical projects in the early throes of British imperialism and used Acostaâ€™s observations to develop a vision of the Ameri cas as backward and undeveloped. As competition between European pow ers coincided with the emergence of national literary cultures and a complex c lim ate of religious rivalry, the work of Spanish naturalists such as Acosta was marginalized. Natural history was deemed antithetical to the pursuit of unencumbered knowledge. Despite the plurality of voices emerging from this p er iod, the rebuttal and appropriation of Spainâ€™s New World knowledge by its European competitors le Acosta an aerthought in eorts to build a new natural philosophy. Ã¾ To i llustrate but one example of this trend, historians of political thought have generally regarded the question of Americaâ€™s place in world history to be a matter rst taken up by John Locke. While Locke is a revolutionary thinker in his own right, the assertion that it is his conceptual appropriation of America that acts as one of the foundational moments of early modern thought, and not the empirical work that Acosta (among others) successfully disseminated, ignores the innuence of Acostaâ€™s work as a natural historian and philosopher. Chieny important for Locke and other early modern thinkers were Acostaâ€™s ac counts of American nature and its range of eects on the faculty of judgment. Whether it was his observations on the changes in the human faculties ac cording to height and climate, or the ethnographic observations on the civili zational development of Amerindian peoples, Acosta was a standard reference f o r seventeenth-century thinkers, particularly in the British Isles. Ã¾ As Barbara Arneil writes, the empirical evidence early modern thinkers such as Locke used to develop their accounts of â€œnatural manâ€ and â€œthe state of natureâ€ is clearly acknowledged as coming from Acosta. Despite Lockeâ€™s claim that knowing â€œhow to make a judgment on the actions of menâ€ is indispensable to gaining a useful prudence in the study of history, his application of Acostaâ€™s insights serves rather paradoxical (if not altogether ulterior) motives: Lockeâ€™s state of nature presupposes individual savages whose decision to enter into a state of war is contingent upon the protection of their indi vidual lives and property. . . . One of the greatest naws of the state-of-nature de v ice, when it is used as a mirror to European civilization, is its complete obliteration of any specic characteristics of the individuals themselves. us natural man belongs to no nation and has no political or ethical codes
fr associated with that collectivity. Rather he is an individual amongst an un dierentiated and ahistorical mass of non-European, non-civil savages.Such a description clearly takes issue with Lockeâ€™s theories of property, labor, and industry. As Acosta and others before rst explored it, however, the so cial contexts of Amerindian peoples ranged from the highly diused to the hig h ly stratied. at much is clear when Acosta, describing the history of the Mexica peoples, writes: â€œere are no peoples so barbaric that they do not have something worthy of praise, nor are there any people so civilized and humane that they stand in no need of correction. And so, even if the account or history of the Indians were to have no other result than that of being an ordinary his tory and account of events that indeed took place, it deserves to be received a s a u seful thing.â€ Arneil never pushes the point concerning the misuse of Acostaâ€™s observations; she only concludes that â€œthe notion that Amerindians did not properly use Godâ€™s gis . . . was a common belief amongst those English involved in settling the New World.â€ Why the scholarly impasse, then, on the misappropriation of Acostaâ€™s work? Ã¾ ro ughout the Historia Natural , Acosta navigates the jungles, waters, mountains, and deserts of the New World with a candor that perhaps explains some of his workâ€™s obscurity. ough the book was initially intended as a eld guide for Jesuit missionariesâ€”and was subsequently treated as suchâ€”it is more than just an academic treatise on the New Worldâ€™s natural history. Acosta begins Book II of the Historia Natural , for instance, by describing â€œsuch an abundance of natural waters that nowhere in the world are there more riv ers, or larger ones, or more swamps and lakes.â€ What at the outset is an em pirical description of the uninhabitable character of the Americas, however, s o on spurs philosophical admiration for its grandeur. e multiple â€œfountains, brooks, wells, pools, and lakesâ€ strewn across the landscapes are juxtaposed rst with the powerful Magdalena River, which â€œeven the waves and immen sity of the ocean could not obliterateâ€; and second, they are dwarfed by the â€œ Em peror of Rivers,â€ the Amazon, which, despite its plurality of names and voyagers, unfailingly manages to â€œ[silence] them all.â€ Ã¾ Early in his work Acosta thus makes it plain that the prospects of properly o bserving the New World should put any observer among the most learned company: If it were possible to write fully about natural things in the Indies, and with the consideration required for such notable things, I do not doubt a work could be written equal to those of Pliny, eophrastus, and Aristotle. But
fr I do not nd that vein in myself, nor would it agree with my aim if I did, for I intend only to take note of some natural things I saw and contem plated while in the Indies . . . which I believe are not commonly known in Eu r ope.Despite Acostaâ€™s denection of any unwarranted adulation, the Historia Natural goes into great detail to document the biological, medicinal, and anthropo logical ways in which the New World challenged what Europeans knew about t h e world, at least up to this point. Acosta, then, seems to be making the op posite of a revolutionary argument. Beyond its informational value, however, t h e book quickly became an invitation for European audiences to discover the redemptive powers of the New World and embrace natural historyâ€™s intellectu ally liberating potential. Ã¾ Acostaâ€™s experiences and insights came to serve as lasting lessons for mod er nizing the Spanish Empire. Yet many of these lessons came about through sig nic ant challenges, objections, and transformations in the form of physi cal gauntlets, indigenous revolts, and the threat of spiritual disenchantment. I n deed, Acostaâ€™s nexibility in negotiating these trials is partly what denes his experimental approach. Retrieving Acostaâ€™s labors, particularly at the dawn of the Scientic Revolution, is therefore crucial for re-evaluating the Spanish ex periences of the sixteenth century and its intellectual signicance for European m o dernity. Before the perverted conception of â€œtorturing natureâ€ was popular ized across Europe, Acosta extolled explorers, merchants, and missionaries to â€œ es cape from the bonds placed on them by greed, and if they would abandon useless and irksome pretensions, they could undoubtedly live a very carefree and pleasant life in the Indies.â€ ose perks would only come through greater attention to the interpretive challenges of a world unknown to European eyes. Acostaâ€™s goals may have started as part of a benign eld guide; they gradually became, however, part of a more paradigm-shiing spiritual agenda that spans centuries and locales across the Western Hemisphere. Ã¾ In deed, in the decades following Acostaâ€™s work, Jesuits like Bernab Cobo and Joseph-Franois Latau would push for a model of natural philosophy in the Americas that would, in the words of Anthony Pagden, make it possible â€œto be a cultural relativist without being a sceptic . . . to see that every explanation of alien cultures had to be securely grounded in [the] local and empirical study of behavior.â€ is was the Jesuit Orderâ€™s greatest contribution to imperial science: developing a narrative device to study the New Worldâ€™s environments and peo ples, while teaching and stimulating wonder for distant audiences. According to r e cent evaluations of this narrative model, â€œfar from reducing itself to a mere phi -
fr losophy of language, the oratorical culture of the fathers of the Company of Jesus also welcomed a kind of anthropological comparative method, where incessant parallels between the Ancients and the moderns, so central to the Jesuit imagina tion, promoted the exercise of a critical view based on comparison.â€ e point then was not merely to establish the superiority of modern times and thinkers over the past, but rather relaunch Ciceroâ€™s ideal form of political judgment, where the force of persuasion could supplant the violence of military domination: As a theory, rhetoric has sought since ancient times to understand speech as a force that is armed through an energy capable of acting on others and the self, one having the ability to change ideals and acts, wishes and desires. Rhetoric, therefore, views the exercise of language as a civilizing force, that is, a power inviting recourse to persuasion, even seduction, in order to better contain excessive violence and abuses of physical re straint . . . if one cannot consider rhetoric a mere theory of language or do c trine, it is because it deploys as well a practice of discourse that places the enterprise of seduction at the heart of the exercise of speech. is more strict literary dimension of oratorical tradition determines a nar rative regimen in which lived-experience, historical testimony, and travel acco un ts are related and re-related as both an epic rich in models to imi tate and a story of adventure that recounts the conversion of hearts and t h e transformation of societies. To teach, to delight and to move . . . the essential component of all eloquence.is noteworthy tradition of Jesuit natural philosophy spans the Orderâ€™s his tory, as well as Acostaâ€™s magnum opus. e Historia N a tural emerges in this context and embraces many of the concurrent trends within early works of natural history. e work posits a picture of the New World that is sensitive to its distinct cultural and biological diversity. At the same time, it espouses a kind of naturalist theology against the alleged presence of demonic forces within the very landscape. Acosta was part of a generation of scholars who shied attention away from studying nature as an object of universal and unchanging laws, to a realm that demanded learned description and classication. Like Las Casas and other great missionaries of his time, Acosta was interested in getting a personal sense of Amerindian societies and especially their natu ral environment. â€œ[Although] the New World is not new but old,â€ he writes in t h e Prologue, â€œI believe that this history may be considered new in some ways because it is both history and in part philosophy and because it deals not only with the works of nature but with problems of free will, which are the
ffr deeds and customs of men.â€ So Acosta takes the wedding of his empirical and philosophical objectives to be the distinct markâ€”the â€œuseful knowledgeâ€â€”of a project worthy of scholarly and popular consideration.Acosta and the New Natural HistoryIntellectually, Acosta was a product of the humanistic curriculum of the Uni versidad de Alcal de Henares. His scholarly upbringing, moreover, coincided w i th his initiation into the newly formed Society of Jesus, which was only estab lished in fbr. Sent in fbt as part of the third Jesuit mission to the Viceroyalty o f P eru, Acostaâ€™s rst experience in the Americas was as chair of theology at the University of Lima. His academic duties, however, soon brought him to politi cal oce, and he was sent on expeditions across the Andes to compile ethno graphic and naturalist records for the notorious viceroy Francisco lvarez de T o ledo. Having no qualms in the defense of religion as the foundation of civil society, Acosta nevertheless carefully distanced his work from the emblematic tenets of dominant schools of thought, aligning his eorts instead with the will of the crown. is shi, Sabine MacCormack argues, corresponded to the â€œmethod of accommodation,â€ a way of â€œexpounding scripture by extending its meaning to topics the scriptural author did not mention and could not have known about . . . [increasing] the understanding and joy of those who were sincerely committed to the faith.â€ An example of this can be found in the bookâ€™s title page and dedication to King Philip IIâ€™s daughter, Isabel Clara Euge nia (see gure t), where Acosta outlines the workâ€™s vast contents and complex s o cial context: â€œIn which are discussed the remarkable things concerning the sky, and elements, metals, plants and animals of [the Indies]; and the rites, and ceremonies, laws, and government, and wars of the Indians.â€ Ã¾ Here Acosta presents his disagreements with Scholastic ideals in naturalistic a nd pragmatic terms: [Because] knowledge and speculation concerning the works of Nature, especially if they are remarkable and rare, cause natural pleasure and delight in persons of exquisite perception, and because news of strange cus toms and events also pleases by way of its novelty, I believe that my book c a n serve your Highness as honorable and useful entertainment. . . . And my desire is that all I have written may serve to make known which of his treasures God Our Lord divided and deposited in those realms; may the peoples there be all the more aided and favored by the people of Spain, to whose charge divine and lo Providence has entrusted them.
fff Here Acosta seems to repeat some of the same tropes as Las Casas, focus ing attention on the divine demands placed on the Spanish conquest of the A m ericas. Yet there is a pragmatic dimension behind his desire to classify the â€œremarkable and rare . . . treasures God Our Lord divided and deposited in those realms.â€ Acosta challenged earlier Church readings of the natural world by appealing to the written logs and records of Spanish cosmographers, pilots, and cartographers, as well as his own observations. In doing so, he arguably raised one of the most important challenges to the Churchâ€™s jurisdiction over scientic erudition, basing his insights on a humanist conception of knowledge against the dominant natural law tradition. rough a kind of narrative dis Figure t. Frontispiece, Jos de Acosta, Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (Seville, fbr). Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
ff sonance between what he knew and what he saw, Acosta rejected the privilege of a priori speculation over empirical observation, much like Oviedo and Las Casasâ€™s privileged eyewitness testimony. Early in the text, Acosta outlines the method he employs in collecting information, and how he adjudicated be tween the accounts of others, who had more experience: B e cause I wanted to have more specialized knowledge . . . I resorted to experienced men who were very knowledgeable in these matters, and from their conversation and abundant written works I was able to ex tract material that I judged sucient to write of the customs and deeds o f t hose people and of the natural phenomena of those lands and their characteristics, with the experience of many years and my diligence in in quiring and discussing and conferring with learned and expert persons.Acostaâ€™s contributions have historically been characterized as adding little be yond the accumulation of pre-Columbian anthropological data. Read only as a chronicler of novelties, Acostaâ€™s place in the history of political thought is typically relegated to being a minor player in the modern (and imperial) conceptualization of nature. One way of remedying this neglect is by reading his natural philosophy within a longer intellectual arc, situated in the maturing eld of natural history. Acosta was central to the development of key themes at the height of natural historyâ€™s maturation, bringing vast amounts of empiri cal information and philosophical scrutiny to bear on existing visions of the A m ericas and the changing European imagination. Ã¾ In m y reading, Acosta forms part of a third moment in the development of natural history. Encompassing both anthropological and soteriological con cerns, his Historia Na t ural employs an ethnographic sensibility that helped move the study of natural history toward a kind of natural philosophy. In the following section, I discuss Acostaâ€™s development as a natural philosopher, specically focusing on the narrative structure and exemplary representations of nature developed in the Historia Natural . According to Jorge CaizaresEsguerra, Acosta was interested â€œboth in explaining the conquest as a pre ordained event and in identifying signs of providential design in the many n a tural wonders of the American continent.â€ e tension between these two goals is evident in the book, as Acosta discusses matters of both scientic inter est and theological debate. Yet in doing so, Caizares-Esguerra goes on, Acosta f ra mes his goals from the outset as â€œa pragmatist interested in how things work and how colonial peoples thought, so as to use and manipulate the former to convert and govern the latter.â€ e Historia Natural is in eect an attempt to shi the social and moral ethos of European thought away from the demonic
ff conception of New World nature that had prevailed since the Franciscan eth nographers (of which Sahagn was an exemplar) began archiving Amerindian c u stoms. Acostaâ€™s evidence in these arguments are his own observations, rea soned debate against the wisdom of the Ancients, and an unshaking curiosity o v er the nature of things that demanded the careful exercise of his judgment. Ã¾ In t his regard, as Andrs Prieto writes, â€œe importance of philosophical renection on the nature of America transcended its immediate use as a source of ammunition against those who believed the Amerindians to be intellectually inferior. . . . Acosta aimed to dene a clearly delimited eld for Jesuit scienceâ€” a eld in which philosophical and scientic research was rmly subordinated to the pastoral and spiritual goals of the Society of Jesus.â€ us the interpretive methodology employed in the Historia Na t ural served a specic political objective: a more eective mode of spiritual cultivation. at path, however, underwent an alternate, seemingly dissonant, narrative transformation. In the process of dening the limits of a missionary science, Acosta also expanded the relation between naturalist knowledge and empire.Narrative Dissonance, Empire, and Natural PhilosophyLong read as a mere manual for religious conversion, the Historia Natural advocates for a syncretic interpretation of nature that emerges through what I co n sider to be a kind of narrative dissonance. Unlike those of his Spanish con temporaries, Acostaâ€™s accounts of the New World were received with glowing a d miration, curiosity, and passion across the Americas and Europe. e esteem for and reliance on his work are evident in the many translations and appeals to his authority made across the history of political and scientic thought. ink ers as distinct as Locke and Alexander von Humboldt, for example, drew on hi s w ork in order to lay claim to the historical uniqueness of the New Worldâ€™s natural environment. In its own time, however, the Historia Natural also generated critical and unsympathetic imitation. Having developed a systematic s t ructure for the writing of natural histories, Acostaâ€™s work spawned competing accounts of the eects of nature on New World societies. Central to the workâ€™s appeal was Acostaâ€™s narrative approach which, as I mention above, was com mitted to a pastoral ethos. Ã¾ e Historia Natural was published aer almost two decades of exploration. It also emerged at the crossroads of two prominent cycles: the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the Americas and the recovery of the Greco-Roman tradition in Renaissance Europe. e two periods brought signicant chal lenges and opportunities to intellectual traditions on both continents. While
ff the realms of science and faith are considered separate elds of inquiry in our contemporary horizon, Spaniards and many early moderns did not draw the kinds of distinctions between experience, knowledge, and philosophical thought that we do today. For example, Acosta is singled out today more as an ethnographer and a geographer, than a natural philosopher interested in the purpose of things. e kind of work he inaugurated, however, as CaizaresEsguerra maintains, was no less than an attempt at â€œmodifying dominant nar ratives of marvels . . . constantly [seeking] to frame natural phenomena and t h e seeming inversion of physical laws in the Indies with a discourse of provi dential design and lawful regularities.â€ As I will discuss below, Acostaâ€™s sense for divine order, tied to his proclivities for empirical deduction, were vividly on display through his deliberations over the â€œoriginsâ€ of the New World. Ã¾ In their journeys across the American landscape, imperial agents pioneered a wide range of innovative (though no less political) empirical practices in their study of nature. ese included highly specialized activities that were seen as part of defending Spainâ€™s patriotic glory and the empireâ€™s intellectual achievements: the systematic observation of changing meteorological patterns; thorough geographic surveys; the cataloguing and classifying of social dier ences; and the observation of changes in the natural landscape. Visions of early modern Spanish â€œscienceâ€ took on a patriotic character as descriptions of the natural world of the Americas were increasingly framed against Black Legend narratives. For example, cosmographers were represented in Spanish paintings as knights, illustrating that â€œthe Iberians saw knowledge gathering as an expansion of chivalric virtues.â€ Depictions of imperial agents were them selves even inverted, as knights and warriors were represented as cosmogra phers equipped with both sword and compass, a â€œmarkedly aggressive notion o f t he role of knowledge in the expansion of empire.â€ Ã¾ By integrating these distinct enterprises into a natural and moral frame w ork, Acostaâ€™s eorts, according to Walter Mignolo, â€œrepresented the intersec tion of philosophy and theology: philosophy because understanding nature, f o r Acosta, was not just a question of describing minerals, plants, and ani mals, but of understanding the order of the universe and the chain of being, of w hic h the human being was the point of arrival of Godâ€™s creation; and theol ogy, because understanding nature was a way of knowing and revering God, its c r eator.â€ e Historia Natural itself, therefore, follows a progressive division that begins with descriptions of the physical heavens and ends by telling the history of Christianityâ€™s arrival into a declining Mexican society. e trope here is that the study of New World nature followed an inverted â€œchain of be ingâ€; beginning with the natural h e avens, especially through the inventories of
ffb natural history, the European observer could trace a path toward the spiritual heavens. is is unsurprising since the Historia Natural is also a work a moral history. erefore, the bookâ€™s title captures both the structure of the narrativeâ€” via naturalist and theological observationsâ€”and, arguably, what Mexican phi losopher Edmundo Oâ€™Gorman would describe as â€œthe dominant mental frame a t t he end of the sixteenth century.â€ at clarity of vision and purpose made Acosta a prominent religious authority throughout his activities in Peru; it also prompted a more critical philosophical exploration of indigenous myths and ritualsâ€”as compared to their European analoguesâ€”than what previous interpreters of the Americas had achieved. Ã¾ A l arge part of Acostaâ€™s popularity can be attributed to his abilityâ€”analytic and rhetoricalâ€”to weave a narrative where science, faith, and the politics of moral authority were deemed essential to European experience in the Ameri cas. Indeed, the wonder over the New Worldâ€™s context and contents was a result o f these intertwined ideals. During the rst frr years of Spainâ€™s conquest and colonization of the Americas, the experience of wonder over the status and character of the New World underwent several stages. Particularly in the many works of natural history, one nds sustained eorts to formalize the newness of the natural world into distinct opportunities for the production of historio graphical knowledge. Arguably, these same attempts have been considered as t h e origins of the development of a self-conscious science of man. While the question of the New Worldâ€™s novelty has been treated by political and liter ary theorists as justifying an ideology of domination, I am more interested in h o w Acosta interpreted said novelty in naturalistic terms. at is to say, if one reads natural history as a eld of narrative inquiry, what stories did Acosta privilege in his account of the New Worldâ€™s â€œremarkable and rareâ€ treasures? Moreover, what did Acosta have in mind in his appeal to the â€œnatural pleasure and delightâ€ that the objects of nature were capable of generating, especially in â€œpersons of exquisite perceptionâ€? Finally, how did this narrative appeal to pleasure t into the division of â€œGodâ€™s treasuresâ€ that Acosta hoped would aid people in Spain and the Americas? Ã¾ Fo r Acosta, the salient narrative tropes and themes of his work are framed by three distinct political developments: the foundation of the Society of Jesus in fbr; the investiture of Francisco lvarez de Toledo as Viceroy of Peru in fbt; and the arrival of the Inquisition in fbr. Each of these respective mo ments shaped Acostaâ€™s conception of a missionary science: rst, the Jesuit Or der blended humanistic study and experiential analysis of the New World with un s urpassed rigor; second, the new Viceroy arrived in a time where inghting between rival Spanish factions had come to an end and the work of governing
fft the Peruvian highlands had begun; and third, by targeting his scientic inqui ries at the extirpating of indigenous idolatry, Acosta was able to employ his a n alytical skills in a political context where judicious observation of the native population was deemed essential. is last objective was especially suited for the Jesuits, who in addition to being concerned with developing the proper means of spiritual cultivation for the new kingdomâ€™s governance, were also trained as independent scholars. Acosta was not seeking to persuade any royal authorities on the value of his mission, nor was he interested in using indig enous knowledge to buttress his anthropological observations. Ã¾ In t erms of his narrative framework, one nds in Acosta the inheritance and transformation of traditional demonological tropes into a language more akin to the nascent scientic spirit of the age. If we place Acostaâ€™s analytic scheme within the typology I developed in chapter f, the interpretation of nature (and the role of the natural historian) takes on the following distinct trajectory: nat ural history begins as a science of description (as in Oviedo), it follows certain p a radisiacal and exotic analogues (as popularized by Las Casas), but it matures into an anthropological exercise in the extirpation of evil (for example, as in Sahagnâ€™s demonology). Ultimately, the study of natural history culminates in the presupposition that nature itself, as a bearer of secrets (as Hernndez had conceived of it) could be read as a Great Book that led its readers to the great ness of Godâ€™s creations. Ã¾ Yet t here is also a curious inversion underlying much of the Historia Natu ral , a t least from what one may nd in the visions employed by other natural hi storians: according to Acosta, nature needs human observers for its greatness to be conveyed. e â€œmoralâ€ component of his Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias may be the exhortation to overcome satanic visions of the Americas and spread the Gospel to its farthest reaches. Such daring exploration, however, re quired great naturalistic knowledge of biogeographical and social landscapes. I t a lso required a kind of practical wisdom made possible through the com parative method. My point here is that the â€œremarkable and rareâ€ treasures o f t he New World are only deemed remarkable for those who are willing to experience the dissonance of natureâ€™s wonders. Acostaâ€™s loyalty to the crown, for example, should therefore be read as a testament of his willingness to stra tegically question Church dogma and appeal to the â€œexquisite perceptionâ€ of t h ose who share (or whom he thinks may be willing to share) his pragmatic conception of naturalist exploration for the greatness of the empire and faith. Ã¾ To i llustrate this last point, many of Acostaâ€™s analyses of natural phenomena in the Americas are curiously framed in the typical Scholastic style of opinions and summaries, prefaced in the name of some of the Churchâ€™s established tex -
ff tual authorities. Yet his own entanglement with narrative dissonance becomes evident, for example, as he considers why anyone would deny the now-conven tional observation that the earth was round. In his striking introduction to the i s sue concerning the extension of the heavens to the New World, he writes how the Church Fathers resisted and mocked the astronomical theories of the earli est natural philosophers, even as scientic observation increasingly conrmed t h eir insights: For, although it is true that most of the philosophers, the best of them, believed that heaven was all round, as in fact it is, and that hence it sur rounded the earth everywhere and enclosed it within itself, despite all t hi s some of themâ€”and no small number, or those of least authority among the holy doctorsâ€”had a dierent opinion, imagining the fabric of this world like that of a house in which the roof that covers it encircles only the upper part and does not surround it everywhere. ey oered as a justication for this that otherwise the earth would be hanging in the midst of the air, which seems a thing devoid of all reason, and also that in every building we see that the foundations are in one place and the roof opposite of them; and thus logically in this great edice of the world, all the heavens must be in one place above and all the earth in a dierent place. . . . But we need not be astonished that the aforesaid au thors [that is, Chrysostom, Procopius, and St. Augustine] believe and say t hin gs like these, for it is well known that they did not pay great heed to the sciences and demonstrations of philosophy, being engaged in more important studies.It is dicult to say how genuine Acostaâ€™s position is against the â€œmore impor tant studiesâ€ of the empireâ€™s most revered intellectual gures. Aer all, he goes o n in t his same chapter to castigate natural philosophers for what he considers their vain obsession with the baser things of the world, neglecting the great ness of God. His sentiments toward a one-sided approach to either enterprise, t h erefore, seem to coalesce into a key methodological distinction for the pro duction of natural history. Ã¾ e s hape of the heavens and the earth, the existence of America as a separate continent, and even the possibility of life in the torrid zones were all s u bjects whose status was taken for granted by Church doctrine as it evolved alongside the conquest. Not surprisingly, however, Acosta was able to oer sus tained support of scientic observations, while couching his narratives in the in t erpretation of articles of faith. While discussing meteorological phenomena, Acosta refutes classical interpretations that envision the earth as suspended by
ff â€œpillars,â€ framing the balance between heaven and earth as mediated by water. In an impressive passage blending naturalist observation within a scriptural framework, he makes the following syncretic claim: But elsewhere that same Divine Scripture, to show us that the earth is joined to and in large part encompassed by the element of water, says elegantly that God founded the earth upon the seas and in another place that he established the earth above the waters. And, although St. Au gustine does not wish to have this passage interpreted as an article of fa i th, that earth and sea form a globe in the midst of the universe, and hence tries to give another explanation of the words of the Psalm, their plain meaning is doubtless what I have stated and that is to give us to understand that we need to imagine no other foundations or supports of the earth but water, which, because it is so ductile and changeable, is caused by the wisdom of the Supreme Maker to uphold and enclose this immense machine of the earth.A second element of Acostaâ€™s representations of nature becomes evident here: while he has no qualms arguing against the prejudiced positions of Catholic faith in favor of describing the world in terms of rational causes, his goal is also to reorient the status of the sciences from a realm of textual interpreta tion to one that includes empirical observation. e vision of a world encom passed by water can be read here as fullling both biblical and navigational exp e ctations. But it is the doubtless â€œplain meaningâ€ of the earth as a giant machine at the center of the universe that helps Acosta prompt a vision of New World nature as always hiding more than is self-evidently given, some thing in need of interpretive experience. Indeed, as he points out within the s a me chapter: And we say that the earth is established and held above the waters and above the sea, although it is true that the earth is rather more under the water than above it; for in our imagination and thoughts what is on the other side of the earth where we dwell seems to us to be under the earth, and thus we imagine that the sea and the waters that bind the earth on the other side are below the earth and above them. But the truth is that what is actually below is always that which is more nearly in the middle of the universe.e newness and pleasure of observing and interpreting nature always points to a greater object of contemplation. In the context of sixteenth-century explo ration and imperial expansion, Acostaâ€™s syncretic visions of the natural world
ff served as key justications in the development of more ecient commercial and scientic practices. Acostaâ€™s writings on minerals and their distribution across the earth, specically mercury, were used by miners at Potos and inventors who sought to patent tools, gadgets, and testing practices. In Anto nio Barrera-Osorioâ€™s account, â€œAcosta translated empirical information into t h eory,â€ as the amalgamation process of using mercury to extract ner metals served to render the chemical into â€œa marvel of nature that responded to Godâ€™s laws and thus gloried the creator of the world.â€ e link between naturalistic observation and the political economy of the empire becomes evident with this and many other examples. At the end of the sixteenth century, though, the em pire thrived just as natural history matured into a science of biogeographical, et hn ological, and narrative innovation.The Case for a Canonical Reading of the Historia Natural y Morale goal of this chapter has been to bring together various themes in a narra tive that traces the work of a handful of Spanish naturalists and their attempts t o u nderstand the New World and its peoples. roughout this portrait of Acosta, and within the larger story, I have maintained that there are political reasons behind the curious exclusion of Spanish naturalist writings, and the study of natural history, more broadly, from the metanarratives of the Scientic Revolution and European Enlightenment. By unpacking the actual context and writings of prominent gures from sixteenth-century Colonial America, a dif ferent picture emerges concerning the origins of the metadebates and disputes t h at early modern political theory is known for. Ã¾ Des pite the eorts of Anthony Pagden in the frs and frs to document their centrality, political theorists today seem to nd very little that is interest ing in the sixteenth-century writings of Spanish thinkers wrestling with the p a st, and future, of what was then a New World. However, especially for politi cal theorists interested in the links between empire and the history of ideas, S p anish eorts to naturalize their experiences in the Americas via dierent narratives and tropes can be quite revealing. is is important because the por trait we currently have of sixteenth-century Spanish America is one of brutal co n quest, where little seemed to be happening in terms of scientic thought, political ideology, and intellectual transformation. As I have shown, there was far more intellectual adaptation and innovation than those myths of conquest may initially suggest. e point is not to vindicate Pagden or any of the scholars from whom I borrow to make a case for a canonical reading of Spanish natural history. Rather, the point is to consider the accrued value of Spanish experi -
fr ences in the New World in an age of greater social, ecological, and spiritual interdependence. Ã¾ Mo re pertinent to what I have described in relation to Jos de Acosta, the entire natural landscape where the New Worldâ€™s conquest took place seems to be missing from the conversations of early modernists excavating the origins of empire. In fact, however, that natural world was regarded as an ever-present foil to Spainâ€™s imperial endeavors. Acostaâ€™s theoretical work gained prominence in a political context that needed empirical information concerning the elements and diverse properties of natural resources. Turn ing to the spiritual and scientic historiography on early Colonial America s e ems critical here, at least if one is to understand how dierent visions of empire coexisted with the larger set of normative, and more familiar, ques tions brewing in the aermath of the Americasâ€™ military conquest. Spanish Em p ireâ€”a misnomer for a large swath of decentralized outpostsâ€”was the banner under which signicant innovations in the elds of map making, geography, history, hermeneutics, ethnographic observation, medicine, and navigation were made. I want to argue that the same can be said for the study of political philosophy, by way of a distinct civilizational narrative that was deployed not just against people, but also against the strangeness of the natu ral world. Ã¾ Fo r Acosta, natural philosophy may have served to better train missionaries for the challenges of converting a radically diverse continent; but faith, science, and empire were to be understood as joint enterprises. Nature was made at tractive through a pragmatic lens that did not dismiss Church doctrine, but c a refully distanced itself from its reluctance to empirical experimentation. By failing to acknowledge the contributions of Acostaâ€™s writings to early mod ern conceptions of judgmentâ€”indeed, those â€œgreat and useful instructions o f p rudenceâ€ that Locke so imaginatively portrayedâ€”the links between early modern empire and political theory therefore remain distorted. Notable in the reconstruction of these links is how sixteenth-century natural philosophy gave rise to seminal debates between Ancient and Modern sources of knowledge, as well as heated disagreements over the boundaries of nature, society, and religion. Ã¾ Acos taâ€™s greatest contribution to these early conversations is the synthesis between theological and experimental descriptions of nature found in his writ ings on Colonial America. His H i storia Natural y Moral de las Indias was writ ten to redirect the eorts of Spanish natural history and colonization toward a g r eater engagement with the New Worldâ€™s human and biological diversity. e engagement itself, however, was tensely negotiated between the political
ff demands of empire and the theological demands of religious salvation. Acos taâ€™s legacy, I conclude, can therefore be read as part of the longer intellectual hi s tory of political judgment, where a civilizational ideal was forged in the Spanish encounter with New World nature. e workâ€™s greatest strength lay in Acostaâ€™s ability to weave an incisive and experimental narrative, in the ser vice of both a natural philosophy and a Universal Empire. Also notable is the en d uring emphasis on good judgment as the product of exposing the mind to conditions that help individuals distinguish between what is new, true, or deceptive. Ã¾ In deed, contemporary political theorists have continued to wrestle with how to develop the right skills and words to practice good judgment. Far from being mere ideologues of the empire, Spanish natural historians like Acosta struggled with questions that set the stage for what today might be called the dilemmas of reason. As Leslie Paul iele points out, judgment is never only about output, for the point of exercising good judgment is to employ multi faceted and renective forms of learning. He goes on to highlight how â€œevery g o od judgment has its reasons. But a judgment does not have and cannot give all the reasons that brought it into being. . . . e termination to the rationalizing process is, among other things, a matter of practicality. . . . Eventually an a p peal to an authority is heard. . . . Alternatively, one might simply appeal to a habit or decision rule that has been developed over time. One might adopt the heuristic: once fatigued to the point of irritation in the search for sucient reasons, choose the most appealing alternative produced thus far. In any case, something other than reason must be called upon to end the interrogation.â€ What made the eorts of Spanish missionaries like Acosta unique was an environment that demanded both strength of spirit and mind, in order to convey n e ver-imagined possibilities. Ã¾ Whi le Acosta himself was convinced, as Barrera-Osorio explains, that â€œthe study of nature led to the understanding of the order of nature and, in turn, to the glorication of God,â€ his wider interpretive context was part of a larger network of ocial chroniclers and merchants eager to make sense of the Book of Nature for a new, modern age. At this point, while I feel condent to ac knowledge that Acosta used his own experiences as the foundation of a new wa y to interpret the practices and realities in the New World, many questions nevertheless remain. For example, while earlier generations of Spanish natural historians used ancient texts and novel ideals to undermine Spanish prejudices, Acosta broke away from these traditions altogether by emphasizing empirical observation over pure speculation. at his writings were sanctioned by impe rial authorities and published widely across Europe adds to his signicance in
f emerging cultures and imaginaries of the Atlantic world, particularly beyond Spain. What then does Acostaâ€™s impression of the New World say about the coming history of imperial science? Ã¾ To ga in a clearer portrait of those future liaisons, one would need to take seriously Acostaâ€™s place within the canon of early modern political thought and read his Historia Natural y Moral as part of a larger conversation over the changing bases of scientic thought and political theology. e interpretive horizons generated via the study of nature pushed Spanish thinkers to adapt re ligious, political, and interpretive ideals onto rather outlandish circumstances. E v ents in Europe may have led to the emergence of new administrative mecha nisms and philosophical systems that renect the changing political landscape o f t he continent. e colonies did not renect the same rate of change. Not knowing the scope of change in the Americas, however, should not be grounds for its exclusion; rather, as I have argued, the proper terms and limits of histori cal writing, sovereignty, development, and civilization were all actively debated f r om within the New World. ose occurrences alone should make the study of the New Worldâ€™s natural history a ready-made venture. Instead, it remains a marginalized curiosity. Ã¾ Whi le on the surface this may seem spurious, academic scholarship is far more divided in this last regard than one may imagine. In a recent survey on the link between natural science and the origins of British imperialism, for ex ample, Sarah Irving has documented the ways English thinkers reacted to writ ings emerging from the New World. She specically points to Francis Baconâ€™s co n demnation of Spanish colonial policy and the better alternatives he and others allegedly developed to overcome the â€œnatural limitsâ€ of the American context: Bacon deliberately encouraged the English to rule their colonies justly in order to raise themselves above the barbarism of the Spanish con quistadors. e violent Spanish encomiendas a n d dispossession of the Amerindians met with dissent even among their own scholars, including Francisco de Vitoria and Bartolom de Las Casas. It is entirely possible that knowledge of these menâ€™s writings reached England. Regardless of whether Bacon had read Vitoria and Las Casas, he was certainly aware of the violence of the Spanish, which was at odds with his own classical ideal of government through the laws, and over men who were taught to reason and use knowledge. e intended contrast between the Eng lish and the Spanish is clear: the Spanish colonial policy of encomiendas r e lied upon the idea that the American Indians were barbarous slaves
f rather than reasonable men. I would suggest, therefore, that the best context for understanding Baconâ€™s views on colonization is the context of S p anish violence in the New World. Where the Spanish used violence and dispossession, the English were to adopt a policy of granting civic laws to their colonies, and incorporating the indigenous people into the English Commonwealth.What Irving reproduces here, perhaps unintentionally, is the Black Legend narrative of conquest, whereby Spanish colonization rested entirely on ma terial domination. As I have shown above, however, the context to which s h e refers was not so one-sided. Moreover, of the Spanish writings that did make it out of state archives, Bacon relied heavily on the prominent work of Acosta. e conclusions Bacon reached over the New World, according to Irving, â€œindicate that Bacon relied upon information sourced in the Atlantic. He knew well that there was an intimate connection between knowledge and the New World, but he did not conceive of any relationship between colo nies and the collection of knowledge.â€ Yet if one looks carefully at Acostaâ€™s work, its context, and particularly how his writings on the colonization of Peru innuenced both Jesuit and imperial policy, that relationship is more than evident. Ã¾ In deed, as Stephen Gaukroger argues, accounts such as Irvingâ€™s, â€œ[show] convincingly that Baconâ€™s understanding of the notion of restoration of manâ€™s empire [over the natural world] involved no connotations of territorial pur suit: rather, the exercise is a purely cognitive oneâ€”namely, the building up o f a m ore comprehensive body of knowledge about the world by taking full advantage of the discoveries in the New World.â€ What Irving does not show is how Bacon regarded, or borrowed from, the various experiential accounts of natural history, ethnography, and missionary theology that framed those discoveries. Missing from the conversation, therefore, are the deeper connec tive tissues informing early Spanish chronicles.Legacies of Empire: Closing the Long Sixteenth CenturyLess ambivalent than Las Casas, Sahagn, and Hernndez over the possible links between nature and local forms of knowledge, natural historians like Acosta defended the Spanish imperial project as a modernizing force. e Book of Nature may require sympathetic interpreters, but the lessons drawn from its volumes should all conrm the greatness of God and the Christian faith. In the development of this interpretive framework, however, Acosta also
f exhibited a kind of narrative dissonance. e more he explored the natural worlds of the Americas, the less sanguine he became about the ability of classi cal and biblical sources to oer explanations for the New Worldâ€™s cultural and b io logical diversity. Acosta henceforth questioned and interrogated the extent to which Old World ideas could account for New World realities. e result is a revolutionary call for greater engagement with empirical and experimental principles, in the name of bringing Imperial Spain â€™ s faith into greater com munion with science. Ã¾ Acos taâ€™s legacy is enlightening here in order to interpret the changing char acter of the Spanish Empire in the late sixteenth century. Although he was far le s s oppositional than Las Casas when it came to implementing an imperial order (Acosta had no problems classifying the Amerindians as barbarians to be dominated and disciplined [see gure ]), his work carried signicant im plications for the development of science and empire as liberatory ideals. To explain why Acostaâ€™s legacy has evaded the attention of historians of empire would go far beyond the task I have set up here. As Caizares-Esguerra and others have pointed out, however, much of Acostaâ€™s philosophical legacy has been le behind due to the ways Spanish imperialism was portrayed across Europe. Unpacking the history of that imperialism requires a closer look at the intersection of faith and empire, and how these two processes were bridged in the works of Spanish naturalism. Ã¾ Wi thin Acostaâ€™s accommodation of conquest, newness, and experimenta tion, he posits a picture of the New World that is both sensitive to its distinct c u ltural and biological diversity, and espousing a kind of naturalist theology for the alleged improvement of both colonizer and colonized. Acostaâ€™s nat ural history thus lays the groundwork for an experimental conception of n a tural science, though not as a fully conscious project of dominium over the natural world. Written toward the end of his life, Acostaâ€™s Historia Natural is the product of connicting sentiments. Ã¾ The p otential cognitive and material riches that the New World offered, coupled with the conceptual challenges it posed to a man who saw spiritual salvation as his primary objective, proved difficult to reconcile in a single volume. That dissonance did not stop the dissemination of the Historia Natural across multiple translations and revised editions. Acostaâ€™s work was picked up by early modern political theorists on the continent, giving rise to numerous debates over empire, empiricism, and the philosophical value of experiential knowledge. Particularly important in the appropria tion of Acostaâ€™s accounts was the New Worldâ€™s novelty, not only as a source
fb of great pleasure, but as an object that appealed to exquisite perceptions and judgments. His insights and their accompanying narrative tropes were critical to natural historyâ€™s development as part of a larger imperial ethos, and Spanish imperialismâ€™s relevance to historical readings of the New Worldâ€™s natural environments.Figure . Indian miners at Potos, Teodoro de Bry, Americae Pars IX (Frankfurt, fbr). Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
Toward a Natural History of Colonial DominationHuman imagination is deceived if it seeks other foundations for the earth and commits the error of measuring divine works by human standards. us, there is nothing to fear, no matter how much it appears that this great machine is hanging in the air or that it may fall or be shaken, for it will not be shaken, as the Psalm says, forever and ever.Jos de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the IndiesAs with most journeys across seemingly treacherous spaces, a savvy eld guide can make all the dierence. is book begins and ends with Jos de Acosta, an auspicious Virgil through this excursion documenting the New World virtues of nature and other demons. Acostaâ€™s narrative style captures both the great awe at things for which there are not enough words, but also the dangerous certainty that comes from the strength of our intellectual convictions. Indeed, that paradox between wonder and domination is at the heart of all imperial encounters, not least the ones situated against the restrictions of nature. Nev ertheless, as I have attempted to show above, from the stories of natural histori ans across the centuries we can discover vital connections between the ruins of em p ires past and the challenges of a future natural world also in ruins. Despite the marginalization of natural history as an imperial science, Acostaâ€™s legacy would pave the way for many other learned thinkers of good judgment in the New World to challenge the minds of European intellectuals. Ã¾ On e in particular, this time a woman, would capture the imaginations of generations of Spanish Americans, well past the cultural breaks of indepen dence. As one of the many lights emerging at the other side of the gateway
f forged by natural history, the renowned seventeenth-century philosopher and poet, Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz, also brings indispensable insight into the story of natural history as a genre of political thought in the service of empire. As a criolla with deep roots in Nahua culture, Sor Juana has achieved unrivaled heights over the centuries. Dubbed the â€œPhoenix of Amrica,â€ her eloquent prose, lyrics, and analytic acumen have long been recognized among writers and scholars. Yet like her predecessors and contemporaries who were religious intellectuals, her insights are conspicuously absent from histories of political thought. Ã¾ In t he excerpt from her epic poem, Primero Sueo , which adorns the epi graph to this book, we see yet another indication of the value of natural his tory as a genre of political thought, albeit in a vernacular far more ornate t h an what sixteenth-century practitioners used. â€œMan, in sum,â€ she writes, â€œthe greatest marvel posed to human comprehension, a synthesis composed of qualities of angel, plant, and beast whose elevated baseness shows traits of each of these. And why? Perhaps more blessed than other forms it was de signed that Man, through loving Union, should join with the Divine. A favor n e ver fully fathomed, and, were we to judge by how it is reciprocated, insu ciently appreciated!â€ e transformation of natural history into natural philosophy may have shied the empirical bases on which naturalists pursued k n owledge about the New World, particularly as the ends of empire shied from colonization to domestication. In that same transformation, however, colonial intellectuals also shied their endeavors to the broader philosophi cal questions more characteristic of the European Enlightenments as these a r e conventionally understood. Ã¾ Wr iting the New World demonstrates, however, that naturalist writings were always positioned between the empirical and the normative. ey were neither a precursor to contemporary conservation practices, nor merely a eld com posed of instrumentalist surveyors. Rather, I have argued that natural histo rians envisioned the possibility of a social order based on contemplation and c u ltivation. ere is no proper nature without society, they reasoned, just as there would be no colonial society without the proper cultivation of nature. Whether or not practitioners of natural history were correct in their assess ments of New World nature is an ancillary concern of this work; it is how they c h ose to ask important questions concerning human intervention into nature that drives my inquiry. Ã¾ Na tural historians were primarily interested in collecting as much infor mation as they could in order to oer a portrait that was politically and nor matively compelling. In this endeavor, they relied on the conviction that the
f lands on which they toiled were new and unseen in the history of humanity. I too have approached this story with a sense of curiosity and trepidation: my purpose is not to reconstruct the entire sixteenth century, or reify the practice of natural history as an abstract, universalist enterprise; rather, I tell the story of an experiment that thrived through the spirit of discovery.Making Natural History PublicReturning to Spanish natural history therefore oers two signicant contri butions in todayâ€™s study of political theory and the New Worldâ€™s intellectual h i story. Ã¾ Fi rst, historians of political thought have long recognized the symbolic role of America in the emergence of the early modern period. e Americas challenged most of what Europeans had known about the world; yet in ad dition to oering an anthropological referent on which to develop theories a b out the nature of humanity and its polities, the New World acted as a foil against which the material transformation of the earth could be measured. Debates over a real or imaginary state of nature coincided with worries about the proper cultivation of natural resources. As lands were plowed and rivers were dredged, so too were Christian souls meant to be tended with thought ful intervention. Most of these debates occurred in the intellectual centers o f b oth Spain and its American colonies, making the Spanish chroniclers I survey among the rst European observers to wrestle with the formative questions of a new era. Ã¾ In deed, by developing a comparative account of imperial visions of nature that focuses on experiential records, the shi from a world of faith to one of reason may be rendered far less oppositional. As Anthony Pagden once ex horted, uncovering the roots of the nature-faith-empire dynamic may further exp os e the discursive layers at work in modern political theoryâ€™s vision of â€œcivi lizedâ€ man. A nourishing of interest among historians of political thought in the prophetic, apocalyptic, and the spiritual certainly renects that normative excavation. Ã¾ Similarly, critical contributions to early modern science were made through r sthand observation, testing, and documentation by Spanish natural histori ans. Notable in all these endeavors were the ways imperial naturalists diverged in t h eir goals from the purview of colonial authorities. Indeed, many works of natural history emerging from the sixteenth century attempted to sway the moral visions of the imperial monarchy away from the instrumentalist goals of colonial administrators. At stake in their negotiation was a greater aware -
f ness of the complex interaction between nature and society, a long-central fea ture of early modern political thought that was also essential to the colonizing mi s sion. Ã¾ Se cond, the study of nature-society dynamics in the history of Latin Amer ica continues to depend on many tropes, visions, and legacies rst developed b y sixt eenth-century natural historians. e Americas today are a site of contention regarding the onset of climate change, the demands of economic de velopment, and the challenges of ongoing ecological degradation. Such pros pects pose several dilemmas for the increasing global, regional, and national ex c hanges taking place since the European encounter. For instance, growing international pressure to exploit natural resources for fuel, food, and water stand in connict with multiple global conservation eorts. Moreover, eorts toward regional economic integration are hard-pressed to reconcile connicting policy agendas, as states today oscillate between extractive and conservation ist models of development. ese tensions are further strained as national governments negotiate the interests of their elites alongside the demands of indigenous communities. Ã¾ As the destruction of natural environments reaches apocalyptic and dys topian levels, many of the questions natural historians raised regarding the no ra, fa una, and people inhabiting such spaces have re-emerged for contem porary scholars of the environmentâ€”particularly of the transdisciplinary p er suasionâ€”to consider. Indeed, at stake across these debates is the grant ing of greater political and legal autonomy for the natural world. In this sec ond sense, especially, my work speaks to political concerns that activists and lega l theorists alike have committed themselves to recovering. And while many of these scenarios go beyond the purview of this book, clarifying the naturalist legacies of the early Spanish Empire oers a critical lens for future interpretation. Ã¾ Be yond these two contributions, the recovery of natural history is for me an intervention into one of the greatest ideological and environmental chal lenges that critical scholars and advocates face today: striking a balance be tween planet, people, and prot. In the sixteenth century, scientic inquiry was w e d to distinct religious values, administrative practices, and political beliefs. is alliance acted as an important ideological banner under which the mate rial transformation of New World nature, and the empireâ€™s moral well-being, co u ld eectively take shape. e increasing popularity of interdisciplinary ap proaches to study nature-society interaction, as well as greater consciousness of t h e dilemmas faced by todayâ€™s advocates for planetary resilience, retain many curious parallels to the accounts of Spanish natural historians. Both in the past
fr and today, we see proposals of normative and holistic visions of people, the planet, and economic growth as desirable political goals. Yet in both periods we struggle to articulate how such a balance can be eectively maintained. Ã¾ As M ichel Foucault once noted, past systems of exploration, encoding, and experimentation represent formative moments for todayâ€™s modernist ideals. â€œ[In] every culture,â€ he argued compellingly, â€œbetween the use of what one might call the ordering codes and renections upon order itself, there is the pure experience of order and of its modes of being.â€ Such experiences act as the conditions of possibility for modern scientic knowledge. New World natural landscapes in the sixteenth century point to one such middle ground of experience, where natural historians actively negotiated between several registers of worldly knowledge to establish the conditions for new scientic principles. Ã¾ A st rong current within the historical and contemporary experience of na ture links the future of civilization to practices of adaptive change. Turning t o day to early modern reports conveying the balance between nature and so ciety may be instructive in establishing a sustainable polity, since the Spanish co lo nial project sought to enact an equally ambitious set of spiritual, economic, and political ideals. Indeed, at stake for these missionary scientists was not the destructive aim of â€œsqueezing and moldingâ€ out of nature timeless secrets for merely instrumental ends; rather, in their search to nd in nature the timeless signs of Godâ€™s grace, natural historians also sought to invent the most compel ling ways of explaining the moral composition of the earth itself. Ã¾ e success of the empire, natural historians held, could only be secured t hrough an imaginative civilizational storyline in which nature and society could interact. As Acosta notes, â€œHuman imagination is deceived if it seeks other foundations for the earth and commits the error of measuring divine works by human standards.â€ Read today, this may seem like calling for a re turn to religion; not so in my view. What it should convey, however, is that w h atever storyline we manage to create for our times, it is always at risk of becoming hubris.Natural History and the Politics of HistoriographyWhat is narrative if not a way we understand the past and the future? Early modern naturalist writings were concerned with how our relationship to na ture can create human values. Many of their reports sought to make sense o f p ast societies; others were concerned with where a future society should invest its energies. Writing the New World diverges from existing approaches
ff in the political theory of empire with the central claim that there is a con temporary urgency at stake in the scholarly interpretation of naturalistic c hr onicles. Ã¾ My a pproach to reconstructing the trajectory of natural history addressed two methodological questions: the rst consists of the standing of Catholic contributions to the Scientic Revolution that remains pervasive in histories of political and scientic thought. I considered throughout this work the eects of chivalric, royalist, and religious writings on the means of reporting naturalistic observations. Whether the contents of the New World were conveyed by writ ers as inherently corruptive, bifurcated, or enriching, their narratives played a n o rmative role in the craing of natural history and its intended audiences. As dierent naturalists held distinct interests, their means of communicating their ndings shaped natural historyâ€™s broader scholarly positioning. Science, much like today, was done in groups, where distinct forms of expertiseâ€”including the ways naturalistic observation was talked aboutâ€”were vital to creating a holistic framework of moral experience. Natural historians needed to be versed in the skills of biblical interpretation, as well as the navigational, geographical, and botanical knowledge of their time. Such knowledge, however, was by itself not enough to guarantee any kind of scholarly independence from an overzeal ous Crown. Ã¾ e s econd methodological assumption my argument thus tackles is the role of interpretation in historical analysis. Since the marriage of history and political theory represented by the rise of the Cambridge School, the bound aries of admissible content in historical inquiry have oscillated between elite a n d popular forms of communication. ere is a long-standing disagreement whether political theory is to be studied as a series of intellectual ruptures, continuities, or as ideological justications. While my interest is not in re solving this debate, the politics of historiography has itself garnered increasing a t tention from political theorists, forming an important dividing line in the historical study of nature. Ã¾ Natural history straddled this line as works commissioned by royal au t horities alternated between state-kept reports, guidelines for missionary im mersion, and popular accounts meant to convey the transformative powers o f N ew World medicines. Whether these histories were compiled with a pop ular, theological, royal, or administrative audience in mind has an important n o rmative implication. e constitutive eects of these stories prompted conceptions of nature that ranged from imminent collapse to limitless para dise; what these narratives have in common is their attempt to envision a new k in d of society.
f Ã¾ As questions concerning the proper use of interdisciplinary approaches in the study of nature continue to reach greater audiences, returning to a foundational moment of early modern thought oers an opportunity to reexamine the historical role of nature in scientic and political life. More spe cically, what dierence does Spanish natural history make to early modern p o litical thought? How are debates within early modern science re-evaluated as a result of Spanish contributions? How is the nexus between science and state power transformed when one considers the dierent missions Spanish natural historians embarked on? Finally, how were indigenous sources of myth, metaphor, and knowledge included into the records of natural history? ese and other questions frame the larger interpretive context in which this book intervenes. Ã¾ Na tural history was a eld of scientic storytelling: it not only tried to make sense of the biological origins of nora, fauna, and people, but it sought to do so in ways that were compelling to imperial authorities. By retelling the story of natural history, I singled out a narrative construction of natureâ€™s autonomy and indigenous ethnology that retains a curious reproduction in contempo rary environmental politics. Natural disasters and crises are oen portrayed a s b etrayals and aronts by this one thing called â€œnatureâ€ against this second thing called â€œsocietyâ€; the latter is somehow supposed to live and develop apart from the rst, and the rst remains (and is increasingly portrayed as) an entity that human beings should constantly be afraid of. Ã¾ Nao mi Klein captures this oppositional rendering in the antagonism be tween climate and capitalism, noting how today â€œeach supercharged natural di s aster produces new irony-laden snapshots of a climate increasingly inhos pitable to the very industries most responsible for its warming.â€ For Klein, the challenge is not merely acknowledging human-made acceleration of climate change, but rather making its amoral depiction a target of our political en deavors. It is not enough to call for greater planning or technology to temper n a tureâ€™s onslaught; our very moral character must be tested and brought into question. e inherent autonomy attributed to nature in such disaster narra tives nds an auspicious precedent in natural historyâ€™s sixteenth-century rise t o p rominence. Ã¾ Addi tionally, the reconguring and return of society to nature also suers from ethnological overtones. Our capacity to change the planetâ€™s fate has come to depend on our recovering some kind of secret relationship to the natural world that modern society has purposefully avoided, or rejected and must im minently recover from. According to Kenny Ausubel, for example, â€œe awful t r uth is that global warming is just the tip of the melting iceberg. We are run -
f ning evolution in reverse, shattering the very mirror of nature that can show us who we are and how to live in this place in a way that lasts.â€ For him, among many other climate prophets, the moral exigency of climate change is tanta mount to a clash of civilizations: one path is disposable, the other is sustain able. e challenge is coming face-to-face with the immediacy of humanityâ€™s wa y ward transformation of nature, for the only way to rectify this evolutionary reversal is to turn denial and neglect into responsible action. Such a portrait echoes the millenarian urgency to colonize the New Worldâ€™s environments in order to save humanity. Ã¾ I se e the â€œtruthâ€ of these enduring tensions with the natural world as lying somewhere in the middle. A clarication of the New Worldâ€™s conquest, and the naturalist medium through which some of these tropes were rst developed, could potentially help modern environmental scholarship have more compel ling narratives with political traction. It certainly seems that a more reasonable, s e cularist discourse has not. Ã¾ Fo r sixteenth-century naturalists, the newness and pleasure of nature always pointed to greater sources of contemplation. Many of these syncretic visions of the natural world served to justify the development of ecient commercial, religious, and scientic practices. For twenty-rst century observers, a more adaptive understanding of the moral balance between nature and society could also achieve these goals, while overcoming the instrumentalist mentality that continues to treat nature as a site of domination. Indeed, as the idea of a Spanish Empire thrived, natural history matured into a science of narrative innovation. at innovation sought to uphold higher ideals, albeit oen pointing toward the singular destination of a Eurocentric conception of Heaven and a Christian God. Today, we have no such certainty waiting for us on the other side. Ã¾ o ugh representing dierent facets of the Spanish imperial ethosâ€”Oviedo and Las Casas as historians, Sahagn as an ethnographer, Hernndez as a would-be medical alchemist, and Acosta as the learned man of good judg ment that most condently navigated the project of empireâ€”read together, th e thinkers I have proled oer a distinctive portrayal of the kinds of ideals that scholars of the empire upheld in the establishment of a New World civi lizational narrative. Indeed, if I am correct in my interpretation that natural hi s tory was a form of storytelling, their disputes gave birth to one of the rst civilizational narratives at the so-called dawn of modernity and the larger con quest of American nature. Ã¾ To c larify what I think civilizational narrative is about, some intellectual context is necessary. What initially drew my interest toward the Spanish revival of natural history is two-fold: on the one hand, the works of natural history I
f consider above renect a sensibility toward the reconstruction of human per ception that would surely inspire the most militant natural scientists. On the o t her hand, that reconstruction rests on a much more radical consideration of the imagination that I think is the vibrant, political undercurrent of this work. Ã¾ In deed, my sense throughout the completion of this book has been to think of natureâ€™s order, meanings, and future as akin to a phenomenology of the imagination, or of natural wonder. In order to understand the revival of subal tern modes of thinking developing today, particularly in Latin America, there s h ould be some clarity about the means of domination employed over time to marginalize alternative points of view to begin with. It is those politics of historical writing that I nd contemporary political theorists of empire, at least concerning the history of empire in the Americas, have only cursorily glossed upon. If considered at all, the Americas were more oen a laboratory for fullnedged intellectual and political standards, rather than the fertile ground from which new ways of thinking emerged. Ã¾ e l arger lesson I therefore want to draw from my story focuses on those acts of scholarly exclusion. To give one example, much of the banality with which the history of Imperial Spainâ€™s chroniclers, explorers, and especially mis sionaries is regarded renects poorly on our ability to embody ideals that might r en der our relationship to nature more benign, or at least dierent. While this is an unapologetically normative goal, laden with assumptions about the extent to which humankind can reconcile itself with the natural world, it is an objec tive that also informed the most rationalist ideals of the early modern period. L osin g the Spanish chapter in the scientic, cultural, and political develop ment of modernity renders the entire intellectual repertoire of the Americas a der i vative copy of an allegedly more original European core. Ã¾ Fur ther inquiry into the joint history of European and American thought should reveal the opposite to be the case. Indeed, European ideals central to the continentâ€™s historyâ€”including the exchange and preservation of scholarly materials that make arguments such as mine possibleâ€”were born, dissected, and transformed in exploration of the New World. e outcomes of these nd ings should therefore establish more links between the New and Old Worlds, n o t continue assuming a historical relation that says nothing about what is to be done in response to contemporary ecological crises.A Moral History of Spanish NaturalismBefore saying more about the politics of natural history and how the mission ary study of nature was marginalized from debates over the history of the New
fb World, a few words should be said on the â€œgood and evilâ€ of empire, at least as perceived by the authors I have considered. I began my portrait of Spanish natural history in chapter with the polarizing gures of Oviedo and Las Ca sas, who though they diered in their approach to documenting the landscapes o f t he New World, only slightly disagreed about the morality of conquest itself. Las Casas may have been an opponent of Spanish violence and pillage; he had no doubts, however, that some form of cultural subjugationâ€”or as later Fran ciscan and Jesuit missionaries would consider it, satanic extirpationâ€”was nec essary to settle the New World peacefully. In both his and Oviedoâ€™s accounts, t h e historian took center stage over her subject, inaugurating a literary genre that I called the naturalist epic and that posits the narration of nature as central to its domination. Ã¾ e j ustness of his cause notwithstanding, Las Casasâ€™s polemics surely raised concerns (both moral and methodological) among other Spanish writers. As I showed in chapter , Sahagn overcame many of these concerns through his adaptation to a mode of inquiry that relied less on the presumed authority of the historian and more on the translation of naturalist and spiritual knowledge via ethnographic immersion. e massive scale of Sahagnâ€™s project, however, along with the active participation of native informants, raised dierent con cerns from colonial authorities. Soon, the danger of religious subversion and s a tanic innuence paled in comparison to the risks of â€œgoing native.â€ Although the work was never published, multiple copies and excerpts of the Florentine Codex circulated among colonial and imperial circles, making the many vol umes an intellectual heritage for both Europe and the Americas. Indeed, as a p io neering eort of cultural anthropology, many of its observations and ana lytic techniques pushed the study of natural history into the forefront of impe rial science. e greatness of empire, Sahagn held, depended on its ability to co un teract the most dangerous cosmic forces in communion with the most mundane. Ã¾ In s pite of the progress made by missionaries like Sahagn, natural historyâ€™s development was stymied as gures more beholden to the Crown attempted to reproduce the scientic ndings of the Franciscan missions. As I discussed in chapter , natural history should be read as a contentious eld of narrative in quiry, particularly as its practitioners were increasingly marginalized for their e o rts to give wings to the New Worldâ€™s natural wonders. When Francisco Hernndez embarked on his expedition of New Spain, even his medical stand point was regarded with distrust in the face of the Crownâ€™s growing economic dem a nds and cultural anxieties. Hernndezâ€™s study thrived despite numerous obstacles, and its survival through obfuscation, intrigue, and even re, show -
ft cases the hallmark quality of his work as an exemplar of Renaissance versatility and the potential of imperial science. Yet Hernndezâ€™s failure coincided with the beginning of Imperial Spainâ€™s slow decline. Despite some interest in com mercial pursuits, colonial administrators were more concerned with policing t h e spiritual well-being of the New World than what medicines they could put to market. ough Hernndez could speak with gallantry on the interdepen dence of faith and medicine, his obsession with learning the means of melding, mixin g , and experimenting with nature itself (even through traditional indig enous practices) made him a restless subordinate who needed disciplining. Ã¾ e c ase of Hernndez, however, was by no means the end of the practice of natural history. In more ways than one, it marked a turning point in the study of indigenous knowledge and the ways that Imperial Spain would nev ertheless continue to cultivate a scientic understanding of the natural world. B a sed on that nal transformation, I spent considerable attention in chapter b on Jos de Acostaâ€™s adaptation of the naturalist mission, renecting both the demand for greater spiritual acumen and the need for an empirical philoso phy. Acosta brought the analytic rigor and missionary ethos that could please b o th humanist scholars and colonial administrators alike. Despite his legacy being tarnished, or at least dismissed, by a growing anti-Catholic bias in the learned circles of Northern Europe, Acostaâ€™s work challenged his readers to think thoughtfully about the New World. at he was committed to military, spiritual, and natural conquest of that world, however, should not be forgot ten. ough he radicalized the ways European observers should think about n a ture, Acosta never lost faith in the objective of dominating the New Worldâ€™s natural wonders in order to fulll the liberatory potential of the Catholic faith. Ã¾ I ca n say with certainty that each of authors I discussed above intended to defend an outright form of cultural, or natural, imperialism in their works. Nevertheless, I regard with skepticism the claim that all chroniclers of the New World had evil intentions in mind. Put another way, the goal of naturalizing empire was as much about letting the wonders of the earth shine through as it was about religious, cultural, and military domination. ese objectives were not always in sync with each other in the writings of Spanish chroniclers. In deed, one could just as well argue, as many have, that their eorts were aimed a t e liminating rival worldviews, just as they were about â€œspiritualizingâ€ empire by way of natural wonder. e fruit they reaped, however, is the same: their ex perience as naturalists altered their preconceptions and rened the way future g en erations would think about nature. Ã¾ I ch ose the gures in question, moreover, particularly because of the politi cal ambiguity of their trajectories. ey were each rm believers in the spiri -
f tual objectives of their mission, but they each also chose to express in writing a higher degree of renexivity than other imperial advocates had done before. ey did not design policy, but in their individual ways had to decide how to act upon political demands not of their making. In their narrative innovations, one nds the transformation of European intellectual currents in order to bet ter renect the New Worldâ€™s radical dierences. Also present are the distinct at titudes that showcase the resilience (for better or worse) of indigenous ways of k n owledge as they coalesced into new ways of thinking. A future project based on these ndings would document these novel intellectual currents, tracing their evolution from the sixteenth century well into the Wars of Independence. e political genre of natural history that these participants of the New Worldâ€™s spiritual conquest inaugurated therefore merits further interrogation.Natural History as Genre of Political ThoughtLastly, it has been my contention throughout that a return to natural history retains a contemporary moral and political relevance. Morally, the experiential sensibility employed by the thinkers I study renects a deep concern with the values behind historical documentation and interpretation. More specically, for each of the above gures, the genre of history suggests more than the mere collection of curiosities. History is brought to life in the words of the chroni cler. e challenge, then and now, is siing what interests, beyond her own, the hi s torian should commit to defend. at test remains alive and well in contem porary applications of natural history. As omas Fleischner notes, â€œNatural hi s tory helps us see the world, and thus ourselves, more accurately.â€ ough experiential knowledge is valuable for its own sake, it also has a scholarly and political history worth excavating. Like the Spanish naturalists of the sixteenth century, the civilizational drive of natural history todayâ€”as Fuentesâ€™s buried mirror should remind usâ€”is central to debating who we are as people. As Fleischner warns, dismissing the work of natural history is akin to ecological suicide: Every worthy science arises from a sturdy foundation in the careful ob servation and description of natural history. Bottom line: natural his tory makes us healthier as individuals and, collectively, as societies. It p r ovides the foundation for scientic inquiry, and for conservation. It honors the creation, and informs and promotes sustainability practices.Politically, then, Spanish natural historyâ€™s diverse forms of moral articulation raised various challenges to monolithic conceptions of imperial society. As
f the imperial core was dened, the peripheral nodes of its own undoing were slowly being sowed. e present eort to document those challenges (if only to articulate their failures) therefore points toward new directions in studying the relationship between European power and still-vibrant indigenous Ameri can traditions. e proles I develop here, however, are really only a small p a rt of a much larger tapestry that needs reconstruction. As Neil Whitehead puts it, what we nd in the sixteenth century is â€œthe advent of a modernity whose ruins we still inhabit.â€ Accessing the ways that Spanish natural historians composed, disseminated, and ultimately experienced their chronicles can s ur ely reveal the normative assumptions behind that birth. It also shows how the histories of indigenous peoples, women, Africans, and animals themselves need greater documentation in the history of political thought. What better means to begin documenting these histories is there than the critical examina tion of the men who chose to include and exclude them from the narrative of ci v ilization altogether? Ã¾ As e ach of my cases show, explicitly challenging the omission of Spanish intellectuals in the New World points toward the reconstruction of natural his tory as a genre of political thought. Oviedo and Las Casas represent the trans formation of the conquest narrative into a naturalist epic; Sahagnâ€™s attempt to c a pture the many meanings of nature culminated in the capturing of the New Worldâ€™s natural history itself, as there is a marked eort to deem the study of nature, and the human activity surrounding it, a focal point of imperial con quest; and lastly, Hernndez and Acosta represent two sides of the eort to de velop natural history into a form of natural philosophy. Hernndezâ€™s objectives, t r ials, and tribulations are illustrative of how the study of natural history was no apolitical scholarly endeavor, but rather an ideologically charged inventory of natureâ€™s uses. What dierentiates Acostaâ€™s success from Hernndezâ€™s failure is the language of conversion that the Jesuit missionary placed at the forefront of his systematic defense of empirically based theological analysis. In this last regard, Acosta represents what Jorge Caizares-Esguerra describes as the â€œco lonial Iberian roots of the Scientic Revolution,â€ making him a canonical g ure to consider in the changing intellectual landscape of early modern political a n d scientic thought. Ã¾ A nal word on what it means to take natural history as an exemplary g enre in the politics of historical writing. e rst Spanish chroniclers of the New World inaugurated a series of expansive scholarly debates over the won der, testimony, and authority of early exploration in the Americas. ese dis putes over the New World began in Spain and developed into trans-Atlantic
f disagreements between creole and peninsular scholars that encompassed an even wider expanse of anthropological, biological, and cultural concerns. Ã¾ By t he eighteenth century, many of these Spanish writers had fallen into dis repute, if not altogether obscurity, given the nationalistic conceits that accom panied the writing of history as a science of man. Reaching the material condi tions to document a peopleâ€™s past was the highest sign of a societyâ€™s intellectual d e velopment. If Spanish accounts were unreliable, then surely this renected the nationâ€™s lack of shrewdness. Monolithic accounts of â€œthe Enlightenmentâ€ captured the ideological character of these verdicts, as Spanish historians went from being regarded as innovators to mediocre charlatans. While the intensity of those caricatures has oscillated over time, Spain today is no great mystery in the minds of historians of political thought. By extension, Latin America, too, probably has very little to say to political theorists, especially about the history of empire. is is a rather convenient position to hold from within the scholarly, cultural, and economic dominance of Anglophonic hegemony. My account is a contribution to the craing of alternative Enlightenment narra tives, capable of helping us think in other words and worldviews. Ã¾ Se veral works of scholarship have surely done a better job than this one in tracing, cataloguing, and rebutting the normative assumptions behind Spain and Latin Americaâ€™s exclusion from the canon of political thought. But this book nevertheless seeks a modest addendum: to bring to light the ways in which the natural world helped shape the Spanish imperial imaginationâ€”if only through its religious and scientic agentsâ€”laying the groundwork for a stronger case concerning the emergence of the modern civilizational narrative at its most embryonic stage. e goal, therefore, of including natural history in the politics of historical writing is to showcase the emergence of modern historical tools and practices in the midst of the New Worldâ€™s natural wonders. at marriage, I have been careful to point out, did not arise ready-made as a value-free, stadial narrative with an empirical and objective framework at its foundation. Indeed, faith and fear in the occult held just as much of a place in evolving denitions of the empirical and rational. erefore, any sound histor ical assessment of the political conditions surrounding that evolution should t a ke Spanish natural history as a point of departure, not divergence.Natural Historyâ€™s Future PastCentral to natural historyâ€™s evolution is the role played by distinct empirical narratives from which to guide imperial governance and the evidentiary stan -
fr dards of indigenous conceptions of nature that informed them. In this spirit, natural history plays a dual role in the story of Imperial Spain: it inaugurates an empirical and narrative sensibility central to future scientic revolutions in modern thought, while linking its inquiries to imperial narratives of cultural, political, and intellectual appropriation. It serves as a genre bringing empire, faith, and nature under a singular banner. Ã¾ Na turalist inquiry oered both a useful and enlightening tool for cultural interpretation, but it was still the product of imperial ideologies, and hence its relation to the empire overshadows its development. e long-term value and importance of this narrative evolution is three-fold: rst, the reconstruc tion of natural history as an intellectual and political eld of inquiry broadens co n temporary scholarship on Imperial Spainâ€™s strategies to manage nature in the sixteenth century, framing this period as an important link in the emer gence of the broader Scientic Revolution. Second, the story of natural history p l ays a critical role in the broader metahistories of European Enlightenment, undermining the assumption that Spain and the Americas have no place in denitions of modernity and, for that matter, early modern political thought. ird, and lastly, the conceptualization of early modern natural history has critical links to contemporary debates over nature in the Americas. Ã¾ To day in Latin America, increasing global attention to fresh water, forest governance, sustainable agriculture, conserving biodiversity, and environmen tal justice have generated conversations very similar to those had by sixteenthcen t ury natural historians. ough present iterations may be dierent, the ethos, problems, and questions raised by human presence in the natural world remain resoundingly familiar. Recovering the spirit of humanist inquiry that drove sixteenth-century natural historians may yet prove valuable for contem porary audiences, no less in a time where the moral costs generated by climate c h ange have led to a tenuous rapprochement with subaltern forms of natural knowledge. e ways in which Spanish naturalists apprehended the natural worldâ€”through innovation and usurpation alikeâ€”represent a shrewd alle gory to the contemporary struggles between science, market forces, and the li v elihoods of marginalized peoples all over the world. e political outcomes resulting from todayâ€™s re-evaluation of nature, however, need not be the same. Ã¾ Sp ecically, this book asserts that the larger question behind contemporary nature-society dynamics is no longer the extent to which an ecological balance can be achieved and maintained. Ultimately, at stake is how individuals will address and publicly mobilize in response to drastic changes resulting from large-scale climate change. Much of the history of early modern thought is
ff rooted in a metaphorical (though oen concrete) escape from nature. Spanish natural history, albeit as an imperial project, attempted a reconciliation of t h ese realms, reminding European audiences that a full separation from nature was both impossible and undesirable. As contemporary imperial geopolitics makes such an escape even less likely, the study of â€œnatureâ€™s logicâ€ is both more unpredictable and far more necessary than ever before. Ã¾ e saga of Spanish Empire in the New World can thus be read as the rst o f a series of modern environmental connicts between humans and nature. A historical reading of how these connicts were rst conceptualized speaks to one of the foremost challenges for sustainable development practices today. As greater political and ecological ramications emerge from anthropogenic climate change, the contest between state-led conservation and indigenous ad vocacy for nature has redrawn the lines of twenty-rst century environmental p o litics across the Americas. Perhaps thinkers like Arturo Escobar and Fer nando Coronil have put it best: at stake in this crossroads are two visions of the f u tureâ€”on the one hand, there is the attempt to reconcile past mistakes with proposals for a sounder future; on the other, there is an unapologetic pledge to â€œbusiness-as-usualâ€ economics that only further threatens our planet. e extent of these visions may be unknown, but the tropes, themes, and stories at work have never been clearer. Ã¾ Wh at I therefore oer in this work is a version of how these dilemmas may have emerged. How and why did nature become such a problem to fear? When was nature developed into a well of riches to strive aer? What role did nature play as part of a story that historians and philosophers have obsessively culti vated? Natural historians asked similar questions concerning the experience, m a nagement, and ideological place of nature in the early modern era, strug gling with the best ways to learn and convey their answers. It is in their records a n d trajectories that some lessons may still be found. While their contributions to early modern science continue being documented, the lonely sensations of uncertainty and redemption that shaped their inquiries in the face of great adversity remain hidden. Ã¾ In c losing, natural history plays a dual role in the history of empire: it inau gurates an empirical and narrative sensibility central to future scientic revo lutions in modern thought, while remaining fundamentally linked to impe rial chronicles of cultural, political, and intellectual appropriation. While the co n texts between the colonial past and our present are radically dierent, the problems raised by the human presence in nature remain in need of innovative responses.
f Ã¾ Hence, underlying my eorts is the assumption that telling a story should be s omething that is informative, but also imaginative. What I sought to achieve in this work was to invite my readers into the wonder and intellectual ethos that characterized agents of empire in the sixteenth century. In my reconstruc tion and retelling of this story, a recurring demonology continues to keep so cieties conceptually divorced from nature, to the benet of imperialistic capi talist interests. e political implications of this arc were rst crystallized in n a tural historyâ€™s rise and fall from prominence. For sixteenth-century natural ists, the newness and pleasure of nature always pointed to both greater sources a n d objects of contemplation. It is high time we, as contemporary chroniclers, missionaries, and examiners of progress, rediscovered the dierence that na ture makes in our own acts of everyday contemplation, and the dierence that m a kes nature valuable.
nOpening. Of Nature and Other Demonsf. Jos de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, trans. Frances Lpez-Morillas (rr), p. b. . Ibid., p. ff. . Ibid., p. ff. . Ibid., p. tf. b. James Farr, â€œe History of Political ought as Disciplinary Genre,â€ in John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political eory (rrt), p. r. t. Arturo Escobar, â€œLatin America at a Crossroads: Alternative Modernizations, PostLiberalism, or Post-Development?,â€ in Cultural Studies (f) (rfr), pp. fâ€“tb; Zeb Tortorici (ed.), Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America (rft); Mauro J. Caraccioli, â€œe Earthâ€™s Dying Body: On the Necroeconomy of Planetary Collapse,â€ in Caroline Alphin and Franois Debrix (eds.), Necrogeopolitics: On Death and Death-Making in Global Politics (rf), pp. fâ€“r. . Quentin Skinner, â€œSeeing ings eir Way,â€ in Visions of Politics, Volume I: Regarding Method (rr), p. . . See: Tamar Herzog, Frontiers of Possession: Spain and Portugal in Europe and the Ameri cas (r fb). . S tuart Clark, inking with Demons: e Idea of Witchcra in Early Modern Europe (f), p. viii. fr. While signicant advances have been made in the last decade to reconstruct the envi ronmental history of preconquest Latin Americaâ€”particularly under the critical themes of co lo nialism, capitalism, and conservationâ€”much of the eld espouses what Mark Carey has called a â€œpervasive declensionist narrative, which is to say, stories of imperialist extraction and environmental degradation except when conservationists could successfully prevent destruc tion.â€ Indeed, Carey goes on, the urgency of the contemporary environmental crisis is such t h at it seems to have become impossible to imagine other forms of human interaction with nature beyond destruction, thereby â€œoverlooking other histories and historical processes . . . [writing] Latin Americans out of their history by putting all the power behind outside forces.â€ See: Mark Carey, â€œLatin American Environmental History: Current Trends, Interdisciplinary Insights, and Future Directions,â€ in Environmental History f() (rr), p. . ff. As an analogue case from the other side of the world (and modernity), see Valerie
f Kivelson, Cartographies of Tsardom: e Land and Its Meanings in Seventeenth-Century Rus sia (rrt). f. J o rge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œHow Derivative Was Humboldt? Microcosmic Narratives in Early Modern Spanish America and the (Other) Origins of Humboldtâ€™s Ecological Sensi bilities,â€ in Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World, ed. L o nda Schiebinger and Claudia Swan (rrb), pp. fâ€“ft. f. For instance, von Vacano sees the writings of Bartolom de Las Casas as examples of rhetorical, not scientic, mastery. In his view, Las Casas was not an empiricist, but rather had a humanist sensibility that allowed him â€œto argue for a synthetic or inclusive approach to [ruling] the natives. . . . A synthesis of civilizational and moral virtues,â€ that would â€œmake the empire even more glorious.â€ See Diego von Vacano, e Color of Citizenship: Race, Moder nity, and Latin American/Hispanic Political ought (rff), p. bb. Yet missing in von Vacanoâ€™s a n alysisâ€”indeed, he at times claims Las Casas wrote â€œwithout empirical basisâ€ (bt)â€”is how naturalist wonder served as the constitutive ground for Las Casasâ€™s rhetorical tropes. See Lewis Hanke, Bartolom de Las Casas: An Interpretation of His Life and Writings (fbf), pp. tfâ€“. Conversely, Juliet Hookerâ€™s proposal for a historical-interpretive method based on â€œjuxta positionâ€ instead of mere comparison reveals a critical dimension for political theorists to con sider as they work to trace genealogies of domination: â€œWhat happens when thinkers and traditions that are viewed as disparate are staged as proximate, what insights are revealed?â€ See Juliet Hooker, eorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vas concelos (r f), p. f. f . Orlando Bentancor, e Matter of Empire: Metaphysics and Mining in Colonial Peru (rf); James W. Fuerst, New World Postcolonial: e Political ought of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (rf). fb. For similar accounts of hybrid forms of domination in the study of legal pluralism and colonial art history, see Bianca Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire (rf); see also Ananda Cohen Suarez, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between: Murals of the Colonial Andes (rft); and Susan Verdi Webster, Lettered Artists and the Languages of Empire Painters and the Profession in Early Colonial Quito (rf). ft. Too broad to fully convey here, recent scholarly interventions that critically engage with the boundaries of human-nature relations, and particularly through indigenous political thought and other subaltern positionalities, include: Anna Tsing, e Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (rfb); Arturo Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (rf); Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (rft); and Nick Estes, Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (rf). f. See: Anthony Pagden, â€œe Savage Critic: Some European Images of the Primitive,â€ in e Yearbook of English Studies : Colonial and Imperial emes Special Issue (f), pp. â€“b; see also Emma Planinc, â€œRegenerating Humanism,â€ in History of European Ideas (rf), pp. fâ€“fb. Online First: https://doi.org/fr.frr/rfftb.rf.ft. f. While there is much to debate concerning the great diversity of views on climate change and the interdependence of nature and humanity available to the broader public, there is also much to lament regarding the inability of scientic discourses to dislodge the politi cal gridlock that characterizes the climate wars. us a burgeoning scholarly literature on t h e coming ends of the worldâ€”rhetorical and otherwiseâ€”is gaining a foothold, including: Andreas Malm, e Progress of is Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World (rf); Notes to Pages bâ€“t
fbCara Daggett, â€œPetro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire,â€ in Millennium: Journal of International Studies (f) (rf), pp. bâ€“; Joel Wainwright and Geo Mann, Climate Leviathan: A Political eory of Our Planetary Future (rf); Stefanie R. Fishel, â€œOf Other Movements: Nonhuman Mobility in the Anthropocene,â€ in Mobilities f() (rf), pp. bfâ€“t; Naomi Klein, On Fire: e (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (rf); and Mauro J. Caraccioli, â€œA Sorrowful Storm: Between Penitence and Anthropolitics in the Anthropocene,â€ in Daniel Bertrand Monk and Michael Sorkin, Catastrophe and Revolution: Essays in Honor of Mike Davis (rr). f. Jennifer Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ in Annual Review of Politi cal Science f (rfr), pp. fâ€“b. r. Ib id., p. ff. f. Ibid., p. f. . Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial, pp. fâ€“t; Jeremy Ravi Mumford, Vertical Empire: e General Resettlement of Indians in the Colonial Andes (rf). . Bikrum Gill, â€œCan the River Speak? Epistemological Confrontation in the Rise and Fall of the Land Grab in Gambella, Ethiopia,â€ in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space () (rft), pp. tâ€“f. . is is remarkably dierent concerning British and French imperialism, where there is ample work on the history of science, empire, and naturalistic observation. See: Michael A. Osborne, â€œScience and the French Empire,â€ in Isis t(f) (rrb), pp. râ€“; Sarah Irving, Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire (rr); Zev Trachtenberg, â€œJohn Locke: is Habitable Earth of Ours,â€ in Peter E. Cannav and Joseph H. Lane, Jr. (eds.), Engaging Nature: Environmentalism and the Political eory Canon (rf), pp. â€“fft; and Loc Charles and Paul Cheney, â€œe Colonial Machine Dismantled: Knowledge and Empire in the French Atlantic,â€ in Past and Present f(f) (rf), pp. fâ€“ft. b. Dryzek, Honig, and Phillips, Oxford Handbook of Political eory , pp. â€“. t. For two perspectives that challenge the one-size-ts-all depiction of liberalism, speci cally from the experiences of postempire Spain, see Alec Dinnin; â€œDisoriented Liberalism: Or t ega y Gasset in the Ruins of Empire,â€ in Political eory (b) (rf), pp. tfâ€“tb; see also Brendon Westler, â€œBetween Tradition and Revolution: e Curious Case of Francisco Mart Ã¾i n ez Marina, the C Ã¾a diz C onstitution, and Spanish Liberalism,â€ in Journal of the History of Ideas t() (rfb), pp. â€“ft. . For classical and late modern examples, see Trevor Murphy, Pliny the Elderâ€™s Natural History: e Empire in the Encyclopedia (rr); and Vanessa Lemm, Nietzscheâ€™s Animal Phi losophy: Culture, Politics, and the Animality of the Human Being (rr). . A nthony Pagden, â€œâ€˜e Impact of the New World On the Oldâ€™: e History of an Idea,â€ in Renaissance and Modern Studies r(f) (ft), pp. fâ€“ff. See also Charles Mann, : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (rrb). . Surekha Davies, for example, presents highly compelling evidence for the way carto graphic practices were shaped by the demands of allegedly incommensurable landscapes. See: Sur ekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters (rft). r. Harald E. Braun, Juan de Mariana and Early Modern Spanish Political ought (rr); Andrs I. Prieto, Missionary Scientists: Jesuit Science in Spanish South America, â€“ (rff). f. Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Episte mologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (rrf).Notes to Pages tâ€“
ft . Skinner, â€œSeeing ings eir Way,â€ Visions of Politics, Volume I (rr), p. . . Although the debates concerning Spainâ€™s intellectual apathy have their origin over ve decades ago, some of the most exemplary statements merit consideration by historians of political thought, not least over the lasting innuence of the â€œBlack Legendâ€ in the interpreta tion of sixteenth-century texts. See: Benjamin Keen, â€œe Black Legend Revisited: Assump tions and Realities,â€ in Hispanic American Historical Review () (f t), pp. râ€“f; Lewis Hanke, â€œA Modest Proposal for a Moratorium on Grand Generalizations: Some oughts on the Black Legend,â€ in Hispanic American Historical Review bf(f) (ff), pp. ffâ€“f; Ben jamin Keen, â€œe White Legend Revisited: A Reply to Professor Hankeâ€™s â€˜Modest Proposal,â€™â€ in H i spanic American Historical Review bf() (ff), pp. tâ€“bb; Steve J. Stern, â€œParadigms of Conquest: History, Historiography, and Politics,â€ in Journal of Latin American Studies (f), pp. fâ€“; and Richard L. Kagan, â€œPrescottâ€™s Paradigm: American Historical Scholarship and the Decline of Spain,â€ in American Historical Review frf() (ft), pp. â€“t. . Lewis Hanke, e Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America (f). b. Carlos Fuentes, e Buried Mirror: Reections on Spain and the New World (f), p. fb. t. Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial, p. . . Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (f), p. xiii. . Scholars situated in the study of legal pluralism, for instance, have made signicant inroads in unpacking the ways indigenous peoples in Colonial Spanish America contributed to their own domination. See: Brian P. Owensby, Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (rff); see also Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial. In political theory, scholars at the intersection of settler colonial studies and the history of political thought have increasingly taken on foundational conceptsâ€”such as democracy, inclusivity, and abolitionismâ€”to oer alternative political narratives about black and indigenous subalterns, as well as a broader intellectual canon. See: Adam Dahl, Empire of the People: Settler Colonialism and the Founda tions of Modern Democratic ought (rf); David Myer Temin, â€œCusterâ€™s Sins: Vine Deloria J r . and the Settler-Colonial Politics of Civic Inclusion,â€ in Political eory t() (rf), pp. bâ€“; and Tacuma Peters, â€œe Anti-Imperialism of Ottobah Cugoano: Slavery, Abolition, and Colonialism in oughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery,â€ in CLR James Journal (f/) (rf), pp. tfâ€“. . Rolena Adorno, e Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (rr); Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œEntangled Histories: Borderland Historiographies in New Clothes?,â€ in American Historical Review ff() (rr), pp. â€“; Joshua Simon, â€œe Americasâ€™ More Perfect Unions: New Institutional Insights from Comparative Political eory,â€ in Perspectives on Politics f() (rf), pp. râ€“.Chapter . Narratives of Conquest and the Conquest of Narrativef. Rolena Adorno, e Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (rr), p. . Courtesy of Yale University Press. . e most famous scholarly account of this history is Antonello Gerbiâ€™s e Dispute of the New World: e History of a Polemic, â€“ (f). However, as the subject of many polemics over the decades, analysis of the representations of the Americas have been taken across multiple scholarly elds, from Literary eory through Ethnohistory. For foundational exemplars, see Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: e Wonder of the New World (ff); Miguel Leon-Portilla, e Broken Spears: e Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (f); Mark urner, Historyâ€™s Peru: e Poetics of Colonial and Postcolonial Historiography ; Notes to Pages â€“f
fand Jos Rabasa, Tell Me e Story of How I Conquered You: Elsewheres and Ethnosuicide in the Colonial Mesoamerican World (rff). . As Anthony Pagden has noted, New World travelers actively sought opportunities to encounter untamed landscapes, particularly as growing numbers of eyewitness reports helped mediate the projection of cultural values and desires as signs of patriotic greatness. ese early accounts forged an important link between the subjective â€œIâ€ and the physical eye, articulating what he calls an epistemology of possession. Experience, particularly as a form of intellectual authority, was not meant to replace the hermeneutics of texts or events, but rather, â€œit alone made true prudential interpretation possible.â€ Indeed, the obsession with craing oneâ€™s own story was so great, that chroniclers of all walks rushed to experience the New World so that they might understand it. What they assumed about the Americas, however, was largely de rivative from Iberian experiences. Anthony Pagden, â€œIus et Factum: Text and Experience in t h e Writings of Bartolom de Las Casas,â€ in Representations (ff), pp. fâ€“ft. . ere is arguably no other empire that makes as much of an intellectual mark on the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment than Imperial Spain. e reasons for this are mul tiple and include: the use of conjectural history as an analytic strategy; comparative political e co nomy in studying the decline of empires; political administrative reforms in the economic modernization of Europe; and the advent of patriotic epistemologies in the Age of Revolu tions. See: Gabriel B. Paquette, â€œe Image of Imperial Spain in British Political ought, f brâ€“frr,â€ in Bulletin of Spanish Studies f() (rr), pp. fâ€“f; Alex Du Toit, â€œCosmo politanism, Despotism and Patriotic Resistance: William Robertson on the Spanish Revolts a ga inst Charles V,â€ in Bulletin of Spanish Studies t(f) (rr), pp. fâ€“; Frederick G. Whelan, â€œEighteenth-Century Scottish Political Economy and the Decline of Imperial Spain,â€ in Jour nal of Scottish Historical Studies (f) (rf), pp. bbâ€“; and Lina Del Castillo, C r aing a Re public for the World: Scientic, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia (rf). b. N a rrative is a theoretical frame that overlaps with several disciplinary elds, albeit not altogether self-consciously within dierent paradigms. For my purposes, I have relied on the following exemplary textsâ€”in political theory, see Anthony Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, pp. frâ€“f, where narration of the European encounter with the New World is framed as a â€œproblem of recognitionâ€ between the fantastic and the familiar; in the history of science, see Caizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World, pp. ffâ€“f, where narration of the New Worldâ€™s past is transformed by the rise of the â€œphilosophical travelersâ€ and their concern with adjudicating between historical accounts based on unreliable lived-experiences versus a new â€œart of readingâ€ privileging the internal consistency of evidentiary sources; and lastly, in environmental history, see William Cronon, â€œA Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative,â€ in Journal of American History () (f), pp. fâ€“ft. As I discuss below, Crononâ€™s renections of the role of narrative form in historical inquiry brought together dis tinct views from the traditional social sciences and what then was called â€œpostmodernist critical theory,â€ a less-than-satisfying amalgamation today. Nevertheless, Crononâ€™s judgment here i s provocative: â€œBecause narrative is the chief literary form that tries to nd meaning in an overwhelmingly crowded and disordered chronological reality,â€ he writes, â€œ[when] we choose a plot to order our environmental histories, we give them a unity that neither nature nor the past possesses so clearly. In so doing, we move well beyond nature into the intensely human realm of value. ere, we cannot avoid encountering the postmodernist assault on narrative, which calls into question not just the stories we tell but the deeper purpose that motivated us in the rst place: trying to make sense of natureâ€™s place in the human past.â€ Ibid., p. f. t. In addition to the History of Science, other elds associated with the â€œspatialâ€ turn Notes to Page f
f (e.g., Geography, Art History, Cultural Studies) have seen a growing interest in Spanish and Portuguese natural history. See: Antonio Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature: e Spanish American Empire and the Early Scientic Revolution (rrt); Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World (rrt); Barbara Mundy, e Mapping of New Spain: Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geogrcas (rrr); Daniela Bleichmar, Paula de Vos, Kristin Hune, and Kevin Sheehan (eds.), Science in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, â€“ (rr); Ananda Cohen Su arez, H eaven, Hell, and Everything in Between: Murals of the Colonial Andes (rft); and Jaime M arroqun Arredondo and Ralph Bauer (eds.), Translating Nature: Cross-Cultural Histories of Early Modern Science (rf). In political theory, much of the work on the Spanish Empire remains under the purview of Anthony Pagden, who already, in his e Fall of Natural Man, highlighted the centrality of the sixteenth-century encounter and classication of nature in the development of early modern thought. . Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europeâ€™s Conquest of the New World, pp. tâ€“. . Political theorists have looked at this particular question through the intellectual devel opment of international law and related justications of Spanish imperial governance over its co lo nial territories. At stake in their readings is how indigenous peoples were dispossessed of any sovereign claim to the New Worldâ€™s natural environments by virtue of the proto-Lockean notion of mixing oneâ€™s labor with the land. Although many thinkers before Lockeâ€”including prominent gures from the School of Salamanca like Francisco de Vitoriaâ€”saw agriculture as the dening feature of a civilized polity, the concept is articulated most famously in: John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (f), p. rf (). See also Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man , pp. bâ€“fr; and Beate Jahn, e Cultural Construction of International Relations: e Invention of the State of Nature (rrr). . For a broad survey of the ways nature is discussed by canonical political theorists, see the essays in: Cannav and Lane, Jr., Engaging Nature . See also Barbara A. Hanawalt and Lisa J. Kiser (eds.), Engaging with Nature: Essays on the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (rr). fr. Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (fb); see also Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative , Volume I (fr). ff. Hayden White, â€œe Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical eory,â€ in e Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (f), p. t. f. See: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time , trans. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson (ft); see also David Carr, â€œNarrative and the Real World: An Argument for Continuity,â€ in History and eory b() (ft), pp. ffâ€“ff. f. urner, Historyâ€™s Peru , p. . f. William Cronon, â€œA Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative,â€ in Journal of American History () (f), p. ft. fb. Leslie Paul iele, â€œEvolutionary Narratives and Ecological Ethics,â€ in Political eory (f) (f), pp. tâ€“. ft. David Goodman, Power and Penury: Government, Technology and Science in Philip IIâ€™s Spain (rr); see also Mara M. Portuondo, Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World , (rr) pp. frâ€“fr. f. J. H. Elliot, Spain, Europe, and the Wider World, â€“ (rr), p. t. f. John L. Phelan, â€œAuthority and Flexibility in the Spanish Imperial Bureaucracy,â€ in Administrative Science Quarterly b(f) (ftr), pp. â€“tb. f. Broadly encompassed under the umbrella of the so-called School of Salamanca, or Sec -Notes to Pages fâ€“f
fond Scholastic, Jesuit priests such as Molina and Miranda were not just theologians. Deeply invested in the practical implications of a changing Spanish landscape, they were also re sponsible for translating the metaphysical and normative ideals of Francisco de Vitoria into p o litical matters concerning economics and the rule of law. See: Bernice Hamilton, Political ought in Sixteenth-Century Spain (ft); see also Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. trâ€“tf; and Braun, Juan de Mariana and Early Modern Spanish Political ought, pp. fâ€“b. r. Recent work in Imperial Studies has taken on these very themes, establishing dier ent analytic positions concerning the empireâ€™s political nexibility. On the metropolis side, Orl ando Bentancorâ€™s e Matter of Empire: Metaphysics and Mining in Colonial Peru (rf) considers the epistemological assumptions of Scholastic political thought as an ideology of material domination, particularly as it shaped attitudes about silver extraction in Colonial Peru and arguably today. According to Bentancor, â€œ[examining] the interactions between early political writings and writings on mining will show that the particular connuence of Iberian imperial practices and philosophical ideas in the Americas frames technological and capitalist modernity as both an imperial and metaphysical project. . . . A systematic examination of metaphysical language employed in distinct disciplines allows us to narrate how the view of both nature and humans as malleable material is the result of the instru mentalist propositions inherent in imperial ideology.â€ See: pp. fâ€“. Similarly, yet from the p er spective of indigenous political thought and the writing of history, James W. Fuerstâ€™s New World Postcolonial: e Political ought of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (rf) recov ers the work of El Inca Garcilaso as a political theorist examining the cyclical decline and r eg eneration of postconquest Peru. For Fuerst, the â€œimperial turnâ€ heralded by Pitts â€œmay nally be creating space for new critical perspectives on the history of political thought as well as the inclusion of traditionally excluded or marginalized gures in a eld that has predominantly focused on European writers and thinkers. As advances in colonial and postcolonial studies have shown us, however, the various forms of European imperialism and colonialism were not simply about what Europeans thought, wrote, or did; they were also, and continue to be, about the complex, constrained, and creative ways those whom Europeans sought to dominate or even vanquish struggled to survive, adapt, resist, and respondâ€ (see p. ). Both texts diligently translate the peculiarities of Spanish Empire in order to build new directions in contemporary political theory; in that spirit, I see my own argument in dialogue with theirs. f. Antonello Gerbi, Nature in the New World: From Christopher Columbus to Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo (fb); Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transcul turation (f ); Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œChivalric Epistemology and Patriotic Narratives: Ib erian Colonial Science,â€ in Nature, Empire, and Nation (rrt), pp. â€“f; Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature, pp. fâ€“frr. . Shawn Miller, An Environmental History of Latin America (rr), p. . . Anthony Pagden, Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France (fb), pp. râ€“t. See also Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œe Colonial Iberian Roots of the Scientic Revolution,â€ in Nature, Empire, and Nation (rrt), pp. fâ€“b. . Franklin W. Knight, â€œLas Casas and the Utopian View of the Americas,â€ in Bartolom de Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies with Related Texts (rr), pp. xlviâ€“l. b. Margaret R. Greer, Walter D. Mignolo, and Maureen Quilligan (eds.), Rereading the Black Legend: e Discourses of Religious and Racial Dierence in the Renaissance Empires (rr), p. t.Notes to Pages fâ€“f
fbr t. Caizares-Esguerra, â€œe Colonial Iberian Roots of the Scientic Revolution,â€ pp. fâ€“r; see also Caizares-Esguerra, â€œHow Derivative Was Humboldt?,â€ pp. ffâ€“f. . Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, â€œIberian Science in the Renaissance: Ignored How Much Longer?â€ in Perspectives on Science f(f) (rr), p. b. . Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, â€“ (rr); see also Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial, pp. fâ€“r. . Pagden, Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination, pp. fâ€“fft; Caizares-Es guerra, H ow to Write the History of the New World, pp. ttâ€“b; Karen Stolley, Domesticating E mpire: Enlightenment in Spanish America (rf), pp. â€“ff; Premo, e Enlightenment on Trial , pp. fâ€“r. r. Rolena Adorno, Colonial Latin American Literature (rff), pp. fâ€“r. f. Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature, p. . . While growing in numbers, for a classic statement on the shiing attitudes within sci entic inquiry in the early modern era, see William Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature: B o oks of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (f). See also Mara Portuondo, â€œConstructing a Narrative: e History of Science and Technology in Latin America,â€ in His tory Compass () (rr), p p . brrâ€“b. e literature on how these changes aected colonial practices in the New World is equally vast, ranging from Todorovâ€™s description of the encoun ter as a meeting of two cultures with dierent systems of epistemic and cultural authority (i.e., w r itten versus oral traditions), to contemporary anthropological accounts, such as Charles Mannâ€™s , which account for greater levels of diversity (and transformation of the environ ment) among indigenous populations than had been previously attributed by contemporary s c holarship. See: Tzvetan Todorov, e Conquest of America: e Question of the Other (f), pp. fbâ€“f; Mann, , pp. fâ€“fb. See also Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions , pp. fâ€“ft; and Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism (f), pp. bfâ€“t. . Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. t. . Portuondo, Secret Science , pp. â€“. See also Mundy, e Mapping of New Spain , pp. fâ€“f. b. Debates over the origins and historical age of the Americas have taken place over centu ries. For extensive documentation of their origins, contexts, and protagonists, see Gerbi, Na ture in the New World, pp. â€“ff; Gerbi, e Dispute of the New World, pp. â€“; and CaizaresE sguer ra, How to Write the History of the New World, pp. â€“b. t. Federico G. Carvajal, Butteries Will Burn: Prosecuting Sodomites in Early Modern Spain and Mexico (rr). . Zhenja La Rosa, â€œLanguage and Empire: e Vision of Nebrija,â€ in Loyola Univer sity Student Historical Journal (fbâ€“t). On line: http://www.loyno.edu/~history/jour nal/fb-t/rosa.htm. . C arvajal, pp. fbâ€“. . Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, â€“ (rrt), pp. â€“bb. r. Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, â€œRepresenting the New Worldâ€™s Nature: Wonder and Exoticism in Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo y Valdes Historical Renections,â€ in Historical Reections / Rexions Historiques (f) (rr), pp. â€“; Jeremy Paden, â€œe Iguana and the Barrel of Mud: Memory, Natural History, and Hermeneutics in Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias,â€ in Colonial Latin American Review ft() (rr), pp. râ€“t.Notes to Pages fâ€“
fbff. Kathleen Ann Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America: A New History for a New World (rr), p. r. . Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias , ibid., p. fbr. . Bartolom de Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies (rr), pp. â€“, fâ€“f, ; see also Katherine Anne ompson, (rfr) â€œMonsters in Paradise: e Representation of the Natural World in the Historias of Bartolom de Las Casas and Gon zalo Fernndez de Oviedo,â€ unpublished doctoral dissertation (rfr), University of Maryland. . L as Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, p. . b. Todorov, e Conquest of America , pp. fbâ€“f. t. Rolena Adorno, Colonial Latin American Literature, pp. râ€“f. See also ompson, â€œMonsters in Paradise,â€ pp. bâ€“t; and Diego A. von Vacano, e Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity, and Latin America/Hispanic Political ought (rf), pp. tâ€“bb. . Quoted in Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America, p. . See also Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, Sumario de la natural historia , ed. Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois (rr). . Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America, pp. tâ€“t. . In studying the trans-Atlantic character of the chivalric genre, Caizares-Esguerra describes the transformation of the chivalric epic into a satanic epic as a common heritage of both Spanish and English Creoles in the Americas. See: Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Con quistadors , p p . â€“ff. br. Todorov, e Conquest of America , pp. â€“f; see also Mignolo, e Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization (rr). bf. Caizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World, pp. â€“. b. H. M. Hpn, â€œFrom Savage to Scotsman: Conjectural History in the Scottish Enlighten ment,â€ in Journal of British Studies f() (f ), pp. fâ€“r. b. Bernardino de Sahagn, Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Espaa (fb), Vol ume I, p. . b. L a ura Ammon, â€œBernardino de Sahagn, Jos de Acosta and the Sixteenth-Century eology of Sacrice in New Spain,â€ in Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History f() (rrr). Online: http://muse.jhu.edu./journals/journal_of_colonialism_and_colonial_his tory/vrf/f..ammon.html; see also Anthony Pagden, â€œDiego de Landa in Mexico,â€ in H i story Today b() (fb). Online: http://www.historytoday.com/anthony-pagden/ diego-de-landa-mexico bb. Daniel Defert, â€œe Collection of the World: Accounts of Voyages from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries,â€ in Dialectical Anthropology (f) (f), pp. ffâ€“r. bt. Leon-Portilla, e Broken Spears (f); Bernardino de Sahagn, Florentine Codex: General History of the ings of New Spain, trans. from the Aztec into English, with notes and illus., by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble (fbrâ€“f). b. Henry M. Reeves, â€œSahagnâ€™s â€˜Florentine Codex,â€™ A Little Known Aztecan Natural His tory of the Valley of Mexico,â€ in Archives of Natural History (rrt), p p . râ€“f. b. Diego de Landa, Yucatan: Before and Aer the Conquest (f). b. For a broad range of accounts documenting the indispensable role of indigenous intel lectuals, see Gabriela Ramos and Yanna Yannakakis (eds.), Indigenous Intellectuals: Knowl edge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes (rf). tr. Sa b ine MacCormack, Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colo nial Peru (ff), pp. â€“r; â€œAmmon, â€œBernardino de Sahagn, Jos de Acosta and the S ixt eenth-Century eology of Sacrice in New Spain.â€ tf. Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature.Notes to Pages â€“r
fb t. MacCormack, Religion in the Andes, pp. â€“r. t. Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, pp. bâ€“t. t. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (rr), p. f. For a critical genealogy of what silver mining ideologically represented for Scholastic-minded thinkers like Acosta, see Bentancor, e Matter of Empire, pp. fbfâ€“ft. tb. Caizares-Esguerra, â€œChivalric Epistemology and Patriotic Narratives,â€ p. ; Prieto, Missionary Scientists, p. frt. tt. Despite a lack of work on the political objectives of their expeditions, there is a grow ing secondary literature focusing on the role that Hernndez and Acostaâ€™s work played in the em er gence of a scientic visual culture in the seventeenthand eighteenth-century Spanish Empire. Much of this work focuses on the use of indigenous artists and the role that natural philosophy could play as a commercial, hence modernizing, enterprise. See: Bleichmar, Visible Empire , pp. fâ€“. t. Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature , pp. fâ€“f and â€“; see also Bentancor, pp. fbâ€“fb. t. Simon Varey (ed.), e Mexican Treasury: e Writings of Dr. Francisco Hernndez (rrr), p. t, lines fâ€“. t. Carmen Benito-Vessels, â€œHernndez in Mexico: Exile and Censorship?â€ in Simon Va rey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (e d s.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature: e Life and Works of Dr. Francisco Hernndez (rrr), pp. fâ€“b. r. Barrera-Osorio, Experience Nature, p. . f. Stolley, Domesticating Empire , p. . . Larrie D. Ferreiro, Measure of the Earth: e Enlightenment Expedition at Reshaped Our World (rff); Daniela Bleichmar, Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (rf). . Nicols Wey-Gmez, e Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies (rr). . Mundy, e Mapping of New Spain, pp. â€“tr. b. One recent scholarly exception has been the diaries of nuns. See: Sarah E. Owens, Nuns Navigating the Spanish Empire (rf). t. Adorno, Colonial Latin American Literature, pp. tâ€“. For an eighteenth-century analogue, see Emily Berquist Soule, e Bishopâ€™s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru (rf). . Mauricio Nieto Olarte, Remedios para el imperio: historia natural y la apropiacin del Nuevo Mundo (rrr), p. f [my translation]. . Barrera-Osorio, Experience Nature, pp. â€“r. . For one recent example of this conceptualization, see Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici (eds.), Centering Animals in Latin American History (rf). r. Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors , pp. fâ€“f.Chapter . Oviedo, Las Casas, and the Difference That Made Naturef. From Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America: A New History for a New World by Kathleen Ann Myers, trans. Nina M. Scott, Copyright rr. By Permission of the University of Texas Press. . Bartolom de Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies with Related Texts (rr), p. f. . William Eamon, â€œe Dierence at Made Spain, e Dierence at Spain Made,â€ Notes to Pages fâ€“
fbin John Slater, Maraluz Lpez-Terrada, and Jos Pardo-Toms (eds.), Medical Cultures of the Early Modern Spanish Empire (rf), p. . . Ibid., p. . b. ough no complete translation exists of Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias , Kathleen Ann Myers has compiled a substantive history of the man and companion to his work in: Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America: A New History for a New World (rr). For Las Casas, I will refer to his Brevsima relacin de las destruccin de las Indias (Madrid: Sarpe, fb), as well as Andrew Hurleyâ€™s translation, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies with Related Texts (rr). t. Jennifer Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. ff . Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, pp. â€“bt; see also Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions , pp. bâ€“b. . Especially important to point out here are Special Issues in the journal History and eory â€”one by Brian Fay et al. concerning â€œEnvironment and Historyâ€ (: ) (Dec. rr) and another by Philip Pomper et al., â€œeorizing Empireâ€ (: ) (Dec. rrb). Both of these collections refer to the questions I raise in isolation of each other. Interestingly, it is Pagdenâ€™s essay within the second issue that addresses some of the paradoxes at stake in the question of empire and the natural environment. â€œBecause of the European belief in the interdependence of tribe and place,â€ he points out, â€œwhich is also taken to imply that each people has an inalien able right, grounded in nature rather than in the political or civil order, to be ruled only by a m em ber of their own tribe or clan, â€˜empire,â€™ understood as rulership over others, has always presented particular theoretical diculties for Europeans, which most other imperial peoples have not had to face.â€ e experiences I will document below are illustrative of these dicul ties. See Anthony Pagden, â€œFellow Citizens and Imperial Subjects: Conquest and Sovereignty in E ur opeâ€™s Overseas Empire,â€ in eory and History () (rrb), p. . See also CaizaresEsguerra, How to Write the History of the New World, pp. râ€“tb. . Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, pp. ffâ€“f. fr. Katherine A. Gordy, Living Ideology in Cuba: Socialism in Principle and Practice (rfb); Joshua Simon, e Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political ought (rf); ea Riofrancos, â€œScaling Democracy: Participa tion and Resource Extraction in Latin America,â€ in Perspectives on Politics f b() (S eptember rf), pp. tâ€“tt. ff. Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. f. f. For three recent exemplars, see Mikael Hrnqvist, Machiavelli and Empire (rr); Ka runa Mantena, Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism (rfr); and D a niel I. Oâ€™Neill, Edmund Burke and the Conservative Logic of Empire (rft). f. Fred Dallmayr, â€œBeyond Monologue: For a Comparative Political eoryâ€ in Perspec tives on Politics () (rr), pp. â€“b; see also Joshua Simon, â€œSimon Bolivarâ€™s Republican I m perialism: Another Ideology of American Revolution,â€ in History of Political ought () (rf), pp. râ€“r. f. Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. f. fb. David Armitage, â€œe Fiy Yearsâ€™ Ri: Intellectual History and International Rela tions,â€ in Modern Intellectual History f(f) (rr), p p. â€“fr; see also David Armitage, â€œe International Turn in Intellectual History,â€ in Darrin M. McMahon and Samuel Moyn (eds.), Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (rf), pp. â€“b; Mark Shirk, â€œâ€˜Bringing the State Back Inâ€™ to the Empire Turn: Piracy and the Layered Sovereignty of the Eighteenth Century Atlantic,â€ in International Studies Review f() (rf), pp. fâ€“ftb; and Jeppe Mulich, Notes to Pages â€“
fb â€œTransformation at the Margins: Imperial Expansion and Systemic Change in World Politics,â€ in Review of International Studies () (rf), pp. tâ€“ft. ft. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri frame that global order as part and parcel of an en croaching neoliberal model of governance, a â€œlogic of ruleâ€ with a global scope. See Michael H a rdt and Antonio Negri, Empire (rrr). Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laey, however, are less sanguine about such a uniform denition, as they recognize the Eurocentric character of imperial histories. In their words, â€œlack of attention to the practical political, economic and military business of imperial governance, historical or contemporary,â€ makes any generalized analysis of empire â€œultimately cripplingâ€ to the objectives of international history. See Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laey, â€œRetrieving the Imperial: Empire and International Relations,â€ in Millennium f(f) (rr), p. fff. See also Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Political ought (f); Jennifer Pitts, A Turn to Empire: e Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (rrb); and more recently, Onur Ulas Ince, Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism (rf). f. Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. fb. f. Ibid. f. Pitts spends a great deal of her review essay cataloguing these eorts far more eciently than I can here. Salient among these endeavors, however, is the increasing attention exhibited by theorists to the â€œinternal tensionsâ€ within liberalism and the broader â€œfamily resemblancesâ€ between projects of cultural, i.e., colonial, transformation, and political exclusion. See Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ pp. ftâ€“f. See also Jeanne Moreeld, Cov enants without Swords: Idealist Liberalism and the Spirit of Empire (rrb). More recently, see J e anne Moreeld, Empires without Imperialism: Anglo-American Decline and the Politics of Deection (rf); and Adom Getachew, Worldmaking aer Empire: e Rise and Fall of SelfDetermination (rf). r. Much of contemporary political theory today can be characterized as an unstable over lapping consensus, as theorists have arguably embraced the language of rights and justice as th e dominant discourses of any possible international legal framework, while simultaneously failing to see liberalismâ€™s paradoxes as sources of contradiction. See the essays by Jack Don nelly, â€œHuman Rights,â€ pp. trfâ€“tr, and Chris Brown, â€œFrom International to Global Justice?,â€ p p . tfâ€“tb, in John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political eory . f. Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. f. . Ibid., pp. fâ€“f. . Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. . . Pocock, in particular, has highlighted Spainâ€™s place in the broader Scottish Enlight enment story of European progress. See J.G.A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, Volume : B ar barians, Savages and Empires (rrb), pp. ffâ€“ff. b. For example, in a recent edited volume on empire and modern political thought, two contributors engage with Spainâ€™s place in the modern history of empire. On the one hand, Anthony Pagdenâ€™s essay elaborates on the ideological diculties Imperial Spain encountered while incorporating New World territories into its legal codes. Michael Mosher, on the other hand, reads Montesquieuâ€™s anticolonial reading of empire to reproduce the kind of logic that portrays Dutch and English colonialisms as economically progressive, while Spain and Portu gal are seen as aggressively decadent. e connicting conclusions are by no means discussed a s a n asset or limitation of the eld. at there are dissenting opinions seems to be regarded as par for the course, rather than central to the historiography. See Anthony Pagden, â€œConquest Notes to Pages â€“
fbband the Just War: e â€˜School of Salamancaâ€™ and the â€˜Aair of the Indies,â€™â€ pp. râ€“tr; and Michael Mosher, â€œMontesquieu on Empire and Enlightenment,â€ pp. ffâ€“fb, in Sankar Muthu (ed.), Empire and Modern Political ought (rf). t. Stanley Homan, â€œAn American Social Science: International Relations,â€ in Daedalus frt() (f), p. b. . Martin C. Ortega, â€œVitoria and the Universalist Conception of International Rela tions,â€ in Ian Clark and Iver B. Neumann (eds.), Classical eories of International Relations (f ), p p. â€“ff; Adrien Jahier, â€œFrancisco de Vitoria and On the American Indians: A Modern Contribution to International Relations,â€ in e-International Relations, Sept. , rr. Online: http://www.e-ir.info/rr/r//francisco-de-vitoria-and-on-the-american-indiansa-modern-contribution-to-international-relations/; Naeem Inayatullah and David L. Blaney, International Relations and the Problem of Dierence (rr); Jahn, e Cultural Construction of International Relations (rrr). . Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laey, â€œRetrieving the Imperial: Empire and International Relations,â€ in Millennium: Journal of International Studies f(f), pp. frâ€“f. . Edward Keene, International Political ought: A Historical Introduction (rrb), p. ff. r. As David Armitage has noted, the long-awaited return of history into the study of International Relations highlights â€œthe maturity of the history of international thought as a subeld of intellectual history,â€ and in the process has opened â€œnew conversations between historians, political theorists, International Relations scholars and international lawyers which would be continuous with those before the modern contest of the faculties drove them so forcefully, though not irreversibly, apart.â€ See David Armitage, â€œe Fiy Yearsâ€™ Ri: Intel lectual History and International Relations,â€ in Modern Intellectual History f(f) (rr ), p . fr. f. According to Pagden, the Amerindian â€œsavage,â€ â€œwas believed to live in a world of his own making, a world of extremes, of inexplicable and frequently repellent ritual behaviour, a world controlled by passion rather than reason.â€ e idea of the â€œsavage criticâ€ came to replace â€œnatural manâ€ as an inversion of previously held stereotypes about Amerindians. rough ctional accounts of nativesâ€™ encounters with the European worldâ€”most notably Denis Diderotâ€™s Tahitian sage Orou, seen in his Supplement au voyage de Bougainvilleâ€”the â€œsavage criticâ€ attacks â€œcivil manâ€ as the one â€œwho [has] failed to see what is written in the book of nature: that in the end it is we who have failed to grasp what it means to be human.â€ See Anthony Pagden, â€œe Savage Critic: Some European Images of the Primitive,â€ in e Yearbook of English Studies : Colonial and Imperial emes Special Issue (f), p. . . Somewhat beyond the scope of this project, Pagden focuses on changing notions of the â€œbarbarianâ€ as a gure who is distinguishable as an individual and not merely a philosophical category. According to Las Casas, so-called barbariansâ€”who were able to use language, prac tice civil friendship and community, and possess the capacity for creating â€œactive happinessâ€ as t h e source of spiritual purposesâ€”had an intrinsic value to their existence, particularly in light of their ability to embrace Christianity. See Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, pp. ffâ€“fb. Pagden contrasts Las Casasâ€™s program, however, with the historical work of Jos de Acosta, who argued that it was necessary to take the world of the Amerindians as a factual historical subject, where â€œthe history of the â€˜realâ€™ but remote Indian world could illuminate the historical process itself and that by studying such a seemingly alien society [Acostaâ€™s] European readers might come to understand something about the natural behavior of all human communities including their own.â€ Ibid., p. fbr. In the end, Pagden sees both men as part of a complementary framework for a larger historiographical project, a view underlying the present work. . Bentancor, e Matter of Empire, pp. râ€“.Notes to Pages â€“
fbt . Both Jorge Caizares-Esguerra and Antonio Barrera-Osorio, e.g., have lamented the lack of attention on the part of historians (much like Pagden has done for political theorists) on the crucial role that Iberian travelers, cosmographers, clergy, and members of the colonial bureaucracy played in the instituting of empire and the early modern scientic revolution in European thought. According to one recent dissertation on the subject, â€œe inability of established systems of knowledge and classication to account for the new reality called into question the foundations upon which those systems were built, threatening to undermine their legitimacy and ultimately opening the way for epistemological changes which would enable the nowering of natural history as a discipline and later serve as a cornerstone for the Scientic Revolution.â€ ere is thus a great paradox in Enlightenment historiography, a larger anti-Iberian bias that colors the history of science and empire as strictly Protestant posses sions, despite their Catholic origins. See Katherine Anne ompson, â€œMonsters in Paradise: e R epresentation of the Natural World in the Historias of Bartolom de Las Casas and Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo,â€ unpublished doctoral dissertation, rfr, University of Mary land, pp. â€“t; see also Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature; and Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Emp i re, and Nation . b. Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions , p. . t. Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. t. . In Las Casasâ€™s case, especially, the Brevsima relacin (Abbreviated Account ) is a con densed version of the many volumes of ethnographic observationâ€”both personal and an ecdotalâ€”that informed his impassioned â€œdefenseâ€ of the Indians delivered at the Debate at V a lladolid. More specically, it was Las Casasâ€™s Apologtica Historia Sumaria de las Gentes destas Indias (Apologetic History of the Indies, completed around fbtr, but never published) that served as the empirical basis of the more well-known Apologa (translated as In Defense of the Indians ) rst published in fbbr. e Abbreviated Account intervened in the larger debate as a utopian narrative that portrayed the New World environment as the antithesis to so-called European modernity. See Adorno, e Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative, pp. tfâ€“. . Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. . . For Todorov, writing is what ultimately marks the â€œtriumphâ€ of Europeans over the Amerindians. e symbolism of the written word, while favoring â€œimprovisation over ritual,â€ divorces human contact and communication from the world, generating the self-doubt that is essential to the imposition of hierarchy over relativity. See Todorov, e Conquest of America , pp. bfâ€“b. Walter Mignolo singles out this attitude as part of the â€œremarkable tendency [in the West] to link history with rhetoric instead of philosophy,â€ interpreting the absence of a literary language as a sign of a peopleâ€™s barbarism. See Mignolo, e Darker Side of the Renaissance , p. ft. According to this perspective, it was from a particular standpoint on the writing of history that â€œSpanish men of letters appointed themselves to write the history that Amerindians could not properly write because of their lack of letters.â€ Ibid., p. f. r. Barrera-Osorio, for instance, discusses at length how â€œrules and practices for the col lection, organization, and dissemination of information regarding the natural world of the I n diesâ€ emerged from complex imperial networks and institutions. Moreover, Spainâ€™s Atlantic experience had an important eect on â€œthe ways in which empirical information was used for the production of new knowledge,â€ in particular â€œthe institutionalization of empirical prac tices at the House of Trade and Council of Indies, together with the books that were then w r itten about these practices.â€ See Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature, pp. fâ€“. f. Originally published in fbf, the Libro del muy esforzado e invencible caballero de la For -Notes to Pages â€“
fbtuna propiamente llamado Don Claribalte was written while Oviedo acted as a mine overseer in Hispaniola and Panama in the years between fbf and fb. For more on Don Claribalteâ€™s place in Oviedoâ€™s style, see Stephanie Merrim, â€œe Castle of Discourse: Fernndez de Ovie doâ€™s D on Claribalte (f bf) or â€˜Los correos andan ms que los caballeros,â€™â€ in Modern Language Notes () (f), pp. â€“t. . Ibid., pp. râ€“f. . As Antonello Gerbi tells it, â€œere were deeper reasons for the quarrelâ€ between Oviedo and Las Casas. Beyond contrasting perceptions of the New Worldâ€™s inherent value, many of these dierences rested on the normative assumptions of what the New Worldâ€™s history was for. See Gerbi, Nature in the New World, pp. bâ€“tr. . Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America, p. f. b. e phrase is attributed to the historian Pascual de Gayangos, â€œDiscurso preliminar y Catlogo razonado de los libros de caballeras que hay en lengua castellana o portuguesa, hasta el ao de frr,â€ in Libros de Caballeras (fb), p. xlvii. t. Andrs I. Prieto, â€œClassication, Memory, and Subjectivity in Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la natural historia (fbt),â€ in Modern Language Notes f() (rr), p. r. . Consider Barbara Fuchsâ€™s claim that, â€œwhen researchers in our own time uncritically rehearse the supposed repetition of the Reconquista in the Conquista, and celebrate the â€˜au thenticâ€™ Spanishness of both, they participate in a construction of Spain as single-mindedly C hr istian, free of the Semitic â€˜taint.â€™ is negates not only the rich multicultural experience of the medieval al-Andalus . . . but also the deliberate, calculated mimetization of one conquest into the other as a sixteenth-century strategy to encourage Spanish eorts at expansion and cultural homogenization on both the American and the Mediterranean fronts.â€ See Barbara Fuchs, Mimesis and Empire: e New World, Islam, and European Identities (rrf), p. . See also Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europeâ€™s Conquest of the New World, fâ€“ftr (fb). . My emphasis. See Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. f. . Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo, Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias, ed. Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois (rr), p. . My translation of the following original text: â€œ[No] est averiguado si son animal o pescado, porque ellas andan en el agua y en los rboles y por tierra, y tienen cuatro pies, y son mayores que conejos, y tienen cola de lagarto, y la piel toda pintada, y de aquella manera de pellejo, aunque diverso y apartado en la pintura, y por el cerro o espinazo unas espinas levantadas y agudos dientes y colmillos.â€ br. Prieto, â€œClassication, Memory, and Subjectivity in Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la natural historia (fbt),â€ pp. tâ€“; see also Gerbi, Nature in the New World, pp. râ€“t; and Stephanie Merrim, â€œe Apprehension of the New in Nature and Culture: Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Sumario ,â€ in Ren Jara and Nicholas Spadaccini (eds.), Re/Discovering Colonial Writing (ff), pp. ftbâ€“f. bf. Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America, p. . b. Gerbi, Nature in the New World, p. f. b. Fernndez de Oviedo, Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias, p. bb. My translation of the following original text: â€œ[La] cosa que ms conserva y sostiene las obras de natura en la memoria de los mortales, son las historias y los libros en que se hallan escritas.â€ b. Prieto, â€œClassication, Memory, and Subjectivity in Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Sumario de la natural historia (fbt),â€ pp. bâ€“t. bb. Gerbi, Nature in the New World, p. b.Notes to Pages â€“b
fb bt. Little has been written about Las Casasâ€™s role in the utopian literary tradition of the early Renaissance. In his lifetime, Las Casas attempted to enact a utopian community on the margins of Spanish rule (on the coast of Venezuela), blurring the lines of so-called civilization and barbarism by putting Indians to work side-by-side with Spaniards. ough the project known as La Vera Paz (fbrâ€“fbf) failed, Las Casas's eorts were captured in his book Memo rial of Remedies for the Indies (fr). e text was published in Holland months before the pu blication of omas Moreâ€™s Utopia , though how strong the links were between the two men and other utopian texts has not been a subject of much scholarly inquiry. For an exception, see Victor N. Baptiste, Bartolom de Las Casas and omas Moreâ€™s â€œUtopiaâ€: Connections and Similarities. A Translation and Study (fr). b. Much of the attention surrounding the Brevsima relacin and its depiction of Spanish violence overshadows Las Casasâ€™s own commitments to a Spanish imperial project, albeit under less noxious parameters. More specically, Las Casas has been singled out in contem porary scholarship as representing â€œanother face of empireâ€ in two ways: rst, through his advocacy for importing Africans to replace Indians as slaves; second was his calling for a kind of â€œ e cclesiastical imperialismâ€ under Spanish rule, where the monarchy was encouraged to take up their role as sovereigns of the Christian world in protecting and converting Amerindians. For more on these two legacies, see Daniel Castro, Another Face of Empire: Bartolom de Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism (rr), pp. fâ€“ft; tâ€“fr. b. Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, p. b b. Ibid., pp. â€“. tr. Santa Arias, â€œe Geopolitics of Historiography from Europe to the Americas,â€ in Barney Wharf and Santa Arias (eds.), e Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (rr), p. ft. tf. Discussions of monsters, demons, and other creatures that inhabited the early universe of the Americas takes one back to the experience of wonder that was so characteristic of New World encounters. According to an alternative reading, for Las Casas it is the sacred and demonic, not the culturally dierent, that pervades the unknown causes of monstrosities and strangeness in the New World. See Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors , pp. frâ€“f. t. Anthony Pagden, â€œIus et Factum: Text and Experience in the Writings of Bartolom de Las Casas,â€ p. f. t. Ibid., p. fbf. t. e verses read as follows: â€œ[f] e bread of the needy is their life: he that defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood.  He that taketh away his neighbourâ€™s living slayeth him; and he that defraudeth the labourer of his hire is a bloodshedder.â€ Old Testament, King James Version. tb. Pagden, â€œIus et Factum,â€ p. fb. tt. Ibid., p. fb. t. Despite being a philosophical, juridical, and arguably scientic leader in the frr years aer the encounter, the Spanish Crown was no friend to the principles, gures, and arguments that shaped the scientic revolution taking place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. e â€œnew philosophies,â€ as Pagden points out, were considered heretical as a result of their close anities with Cartesian thought, and particularly their rejection of transubstantiation and association with heretical sects. e focus of the accusations, however, would eventually be deviated by â€œ[shiing] attention from the substance of the arguments to the status of the person holding them.â€ e gure of Descartes was in eect secularized; his writings were thought to â€œbe orthodox since the man who created them had himself led such an exemplary Notes to Pages bâ€“b
fblife.â€ is textual and experiential tactic led what is known as the Regia Sociedad to thrive and eventually become the Real Academia de Medicina, a central pillar in secularizing the Spanish education system. See Anthony Pagden, â€œe Reception of the â€˜New Philosophyâ€™ in Eighteenth-Century Spain,â€ in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes bf (f), p. f. t. As Federico Carvajal points out, â€œFar from being a generalized colonial condition,â€ vi sions of gender, masculinity, deviance, and cultural competition born out of the period of the Re conquista , â€œemerged as a specic practice of Spanish imperial rule in its attempt to textual ize â€˜just causesâ€™ of cultural domination.â€ See Carvajal, Butteries Will Burn, p. t. t. v o n Vacano, e Color of Citizenship, p. t. r. According to von Vacano, at stake in Las Casasâ€™s juxtaposition of the Amerindiansâ€™ beauty (â€œhandsome and easy on the eyeâ€) with the Spaniardâ€™s animal-like behavior (as â€œinhu man and unjust barbariansâ€) is â€œnot the idea of how dierent cultures can be seen as similar in s o me way; rather, it is about the categorical denitions about what counts as human,â€ at some level a naturalist claim. Ibid., p. . f. Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. . . Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, p. t. . Ibid., p. ft. . At one point in his defense of the natural slavery thesis, Seplveda frames the relation between Europeans and Indians in absolute terms: â€œCompare the gis of magnanimity, tem perance, humanity and religion of these men [the Spaniards] . . . with those homunculi [i .e ., the Indians] in whom hardly a vestige of humanity remains.â€ See Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man , p. ff. See also Juan Gins de Seplveda, â€œA Treatise on the Just Causes for War Against the Indians,â€ in Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, pp. frâ€“frb. b. For comparative analysis of the debate, see Lewis Hanke, All Mankind Is One: A Study of the Disputation between Bartolom De Las Casas and Juan Gins De Seplveda in on the Intellectual and Religious Capacity of the American Indians (f). t. Pitts, â€œPolitical eory of Empire and Imperialism,â€ p. f.Chapter . The Anthropolitics of Bernardino de Sahagnf. Bernardino de Sahagn, â€œe Ahuizotl,â€ in Florentine Codex , trans. Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J. O. Anderson (ft), Book XI, p. bb. Courtesy of the University of Utah Press. Translation of the following original text: â€œEs tamao como un perrillo, tiene el pelo muy lezne y pequeo, tiene las orejitas pequeas y puntiagudas, tiene en cuerpo negro y muy liso, tiene la cola larga y en el cabo de la cola una como mano de persona; tiene pies y manos, y las manos y pies como de mona; habita este animal en los profundos manantiales de las aguas; y si alguna persona llega a la orilla del agua donde l habita, luego le arrebata con la mano de la cola, y le mete debajo del agua, y lleva al profundo, y luego turba el agua y le hace vertir y levantar olas.â€ See Bernardino de Sahagn, Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Espaa (fb), Volume , p. t. . Robert Ricard, e Spiritual Conquest of Mexico, trans. Lesley Byrd Simpson (ftt). . Peter Pels, Colonial Subjects. Essays in the Practical History of Anthropology (rrr), p. b. . Kennan Ferguson, â€œWhy Does Political Science Hate American Indians?,â€ in Perspectives on Politics f() (rft), pp. frâ€“fr. b. Walter D. Mignolo, e Darker Side of the Renaissance (rr), pp. fâ€“r. t. Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World, pp. trâ€“f; James Notes to Pages bâ€“tb
ftr Tully, â€œRediscovering America,â€ in An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Contexts (f), pp. fâ€“f. . Miguel Len-Portilla, Bernardino de Sahagn: First Anthropologist (rr), p. . . For an alternate perspective, see Orlando Bentancor, e Matter of Empire, pp. fâ€“. . As Anthony Pagden has noted, many of these early accounts forged an epistemology of possession. Experience, as a form of intellectual authority, was not meant to replace the hermeneutics of texts or events, but rather, â€œit alone made true prudential interpretation pos sible.â€ See Anthony Pagden, â€œIus et Factum: Text and Experience in the Writings of Bartolom de L a s Casas,â€ in Representations (ff), p. fb. See also Antonello Gerbi, Nature in the New World ; and Caizares-Esguerra, How To Write the History of the New World. fr. Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors , pp. bâ€“. ff. Pagden, â€œDiego de Landa in Mexico,â€ in History Today b() (fb). Online: http://www. historytoday.com/anthony-pagden/diego-de-landa-mexico. f. Ammon, â€œBernardino de Sahagn, Jos de Acosta and the Sixteenth-Century eology of Sacrice in New Spain.â€ f. Todorov, e Conquest of America , p. f; see also Mignolo, e Darker Side of the Renaissance , p. f. f. Ammon, â€œBernardino de Sahagn, Jos de Acosta and the Sixteenth-Century eology of Sacrice in New Spain.â€ fb. Bernardino de Sahagn, â€œPrologue to Book XI,â€ in Florentine Codex, Book I, p. . ft. John Phelan, e Millennial Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World (fr). f. Ricard, e Spiritual Conquest of Mexico, p. . f. Ibid. f. e controversial question of how Sahagn conquered his own interpreters to write a kind of history that stripped them of their place as victims has generated new interest by ethnohistorians. e issue is particularly salient for this project as one of the questions I ex plore is the extent to which Sahagnâ€™s silence on certain concepts discussed in Book XI can b e in terpreted as instances of sympathy, or censure. See Rabasa, Tell Me e Story of How I Conquered You , pp. frtâ€“f. r. As Todorov has pointed out, in writing a history of conquest by and for indigenous peoples, Sahagn was â€œputting his own knowledge in the service of the preservation of the native culture,â€ acknowledging a greater potential for intercultural dialogue than others. See Todorov, e Conquest of America , p. . f. Fernando Cervantes, e Devil in the New World: e Impact of Diabolism in New Spain (f), p. fb. . Sahagn, Florentine Codex, Book I, p. b. . Cervantes, e Devil in the New World, p. r. . Ammon, â€œBernardino de Sahagn, Jose de Acosta and the Sixteenth-Century eology of Sacrice in New Spain.â€ b. Pete Sigal, â€œQueer Nahuatl: Sahagnâ€™s Faggots and Sodomites, Lesbians and Hermaph rodites,â€ in E thnohistory b(f) (rr), pp. â€“; see also Kelly McDonough, e Learned Ones: Nahua Intellectuals in Postconquest Mexico (rf); Amy Huras, â€œCommunicating Faith: Lan guage and Extirpation in the Seventeenth-Century Archdiocese of Lima,â€ in Colonial Latin A me rican Review () (rf), pp. fâ€“; and Allison Margaret Bigelow, Mining Language: Racial inking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World (rr). t. Sigal, â€œQueer Nahuatl,â€ p. f.Notes to Pages tbâ€“
ftf. Ibid., p. r. . While one of Imperial Spainâ€™s most long Ã¾ s tanding contributions to the canon of West ern political thought is the concept of a state of nature, contemporary accounts of its origins l a rgely circumvent the scientic, anthropological, and naturalist work of Spanish missionar ies that inform it. A broader understanding of that empirical foundation would contribute g r eatly to clarifying the conceptâ€™s political implications and its divergent trajectories within early modern thought. Beate Jahn, for example, traces the concept of the state of natureâ€”and particularly its centrality to International Relations (IR) theorizingâ€”to the legal debates be tween Spaniards over the humanity of Amerindians. Neither Spainâ€™s imperial objectives nor t h e Amerindiansâ€™ pagan practices represented enough reason to have this debate. Indeed, Jahn argues, it was the very challenge of New World environments to â€œthe cultural meaning of the worldâ€”established through European historical experiences and interpreted through the prism of the Christian faithâ€ that justied having the argument. Yet while Jahnâ€™s text captures a formative moment in the break with the medieval world and the construction of a conceptual state of nature, it is perhaps also an illustrative example of the types of readings that histories of international relations must be careful to engage with and unpack. It is interesting to note, for example, that Jahnâ€™s argument cuts itself from its historical referent at the moment where perhaps the culture-nature dynamic it deploys is at its most tense and profound: at the cusp of the Spiritual Conquest and its demand for greater ethnographic and naturalist knowledge. See Jahn, e Cultural Construction of International Relations, pp. ffâ€“ff. . J. Jorge Klor de Alva, H. B. Nicholson, and Eloise Quiones Keber, e Work of Ber nardino de Sahagn (f ); W alden Browne, Sahagn and the Transition to Modernity (rrr). r. Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. . f. Phelan, e Millennial Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World, pp. â€“t; see also Andrs I. Prieto, Missionary Scientists: Jesuit Science in Spanish South America, â€“ (rff). . Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors , p. f. . Bernardino de Sahagn, Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Espaa (Mexico City: Porra, fb), Volume , pp. râ€“rb. . Ibid., Volume f, p. . b. Millie Gimmel, â€œAn Ecocritical Evaluation of Book XI of the Florentine Codex,â€ in omas Hallock, Ivo Kamps, and Karen L. Raber (eds.), Early Modern Ecostudies (rr), p. ft. t. Ibid., p. f. . Bernardino de Sahagn, Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Espaa, Volume , p. b. . Henry M. Reeves, â€œSahagnâ€™s â€˜Florentine Codex,â€™ A Little Known Aztecan Natural His tory of the Valley of Mexico,â€ in Archives of Natural History (rrt), p . f . . Jill Leslie McKeever Furst, e Natural History of the Soul in Ancient Mexico (fb), p. f. r. Bernardino de Sahagn, Book XI: Earthly ings , in Florentine Codex, p. b. f. Furst, e Natural History of the Soul in Ancient Mexico, p. f. . Gimmel, â€œAn Ecocritical Evaluation of Book XI of the Florentine Codex,â€ pp. ffâ€“fb. . My translation of the following original text: â€œEl segundo lugar donde haba antigua mente muchos sacricios, a los cuales venan de lejas tierras, es cabe la sierra de Tlaxcala, do n de haba un templo que se llamaba Toci , donde concurran gran multitud de gente a la celebridad de esta esta Toci , que quiere decir â€˜nuestra abuela,â€™ y por otro nombre se llama Notes to Pages â€“
ft Tzapotlatenan, que quiere decir â€˜la diosa de los temazcales y de las medicinas.â€™ Y despus aca edicaron all una iglesia de Sancta Ana, donde agora hay monesterios y religiosos de nuestro padre San Francisco, y los naturales llmanla Toci , y concurren a esta esta de ms de cuarenta leguas gente a la esta de Toci . Y llaman ans a Sancta Ana, tomado ocasin de los predicadores que dizen porque Sancta Ana es abuela de todos los cristianos, y ans lo han llamado y llaman en el plpito: Toci , que quiere decir â€˜nuestra abuela.â€™ Y todas las gentes que vienen como antiguamente a la esta de Toci , vienen so color de Sancta Ana, pero como el vocablo es equvoco y tienen respecto a lo antiguo, ms se cree que vienen por lo antiguo no por lo moderno [sic ].â€ See Sahagn, Book XI: Earthly ings , in Florentine Codex, pp. frbrâ€“frbf. . James Lockhart, e Nahuas aer the Conquest (ft). b. Gimmel, â€œAn Ecocritical Evaluation of Book XI of the Florentine Codex,â€ p. ft. t. Ibid., p. f. . Anthony Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man: e American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (ff). . Goodman, Power and Penury; see also Eamon, â€œe Dierence at Made Spain, e Dierence at Spain Made.â€ . Einar Wigen denes the study of â€œinterlingual relationsâ€ as: â€œthe processes that enable meaningful social interaction across linguistic and hence also political borders.â€ See Einar Wigen, â€œTwo-Level Language Games: International Relations as Inter-Lingual Relations,â€ in European Journal of International Relations f() (rfb), pp. â€“br. See also Einar Wigen, State of Translation: Turkey in Interlingual Relations (rf). br. e original statement is: â€œ[If a] sentence is faithfully translated into a foreign language: [is it] two distinct statements or one?â€ See Michel Foucault, e Archaeology of Knowledge & e Discourse on Language (f).Chapter . The Imperial Renaissance of Francisco Hernndezf. Francisco Hernndez, Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae thesaurus, seu plantarum, animalium, mineralium mexicanorum historia (Rome, ftbf), p. fb. Quoted in Richard Evans Schultes, A Contribution to Our Knowledge of Rivea Corymbosa: e Narcotic Ololiuqui of the Aztecs (ff). Courtesy of the Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University. . e poem, as was much of Hernndezâ€™s work, was rst translated into English in the early frs. See Francisco Hernndez, Rafael Chabrn, and Simon Varey, â€œâ€˜An Epistle to Arias Montanoâ€™: An English Translation of a Poem by Francisco Hernndez,â€ in Huntington Li brary Quarterly bb() (f ), pp. trâ€“t. See also Simon Varey and Rafael Chabrn, â€œMedical Natural History in the Renaissance: e Strange Case of Francisco Hernndez,â€ in Huntington Library Quarterly b() (f), pp. fâ€“fbf. . Simon Varey (ed.), e Mexican Treasury: e Writings of Dr. Francisco Hernndez (rrr). . Simon Varey, â€œFrancisco Hernndez, Renaissance Man,â€ in Simon Varey, Rafael Chab rn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature: e Life and Works of F r ancisco Hernndez (rrr), p. . b. Carmen Benito-Vessels, â€œHernndez in Mxico: Exile and Censorship?,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature: e Life and Works of Francisco Hernndez , pp. fâ€“b. t. Varey, e Mexican Treasury, p. t.Notes to Pages â€“t
ft. As I will address further below, it has taken over rr years for Hernndezâ€™s collected works to be published. e compilation can be attributed almost single-handedly to the noted Mexican historian Germn Somolinos dâ€™Artois, who oversaw the project at the Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico, between fb and f. See Francisco Hernndez, Obras Completas , Volumes, ed. Germn Somolinos dâ€™Artois (fbâ€“f). . Portuondo, â€œConstructing a Narrative: e History of Science and Technology in Latin Americaâ€; Caizares-Esguerra, â€œe Colonial Iberian Roots of the Scientic Revolution.â€ . George Basalla, â€œe Spread of Western Science,â€ in Science fbt (ft), pp. tffâ€“t. For critiques of the center-periphery diusion model, see also David Wade Chambers and Richard Gillespie, â€œLocality in the History of Science: Colonial Science, Technoscience, and Indigenous Knowledge,â€ in Osiris fb (rrr), pp. fâ€“r. fr. Portuondo, â€œConstructing a Narrative,â€ p. br. ff. Danna Agmon, A Colonial Aair: Commerce, Conversion, and Scandal in French India (rf). f. Jos Rabasa, Tell Me the Story of How I Conquered You. f. Caizares-Esguerra, â€œe Colonial Iberian Roots of the Scientic Revolutionâ€; see also Helen Nader, e Mendoza Family in the Spanish Renaissance, â€“ (f). f. David Brading, e First America: e Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Lib eral State , â€“ (f). fb. Antonio de Nebrija, Gramtica Castellana , ed. Pascual Galindo Romeno and Luis Ortiz Munoz (ft), p. b. ft. When asked by Queen Isabella to what use could she, already knowing Castilian, put the grammar, Nebrijaâ€™s work was defended with an exhortation to â€œbring under her yoke many barbarian peoples and nations with strange languages, who, having been defeated, will have to receive the laws that the victor imposes on the vanquished, and with them, our language; it is then that they will use this art to learn it.â€ Ibid., pp. frâ€“ff. See also Claudio Vliz, e New World of the Gothic Fox: Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America (f). f. Patricia Seed, â€œTaking Possession and Reading Texts: Establishing the Authority of Overseas Empires,â€ in William and Mary Quarterly () (f), pp. fâ€“r; La Rosa, â€œLan guage and Empire: e Vision of Nebrija.â€ f. R a fael Chabrn, â€œe Classical Tradition in Renaissance Spain and New Trends in Philology, Medicine, and Materia Medica,â€ in Searching for the Secrets of Nature, pp. fâ€“. f. Ibid., pp. bâ€“; see also Ottavio Di Camillo, â€œInterpretations of the Renaissance in Spanish Historical ought,â€ in Renaissance Quarterly () (fb), pp. bâ€“tb. r. Marcel Bataillon, Erasmo y Espaa: Estudios Sobre la Historia Espiritual del Siglo XVI (ftt). See also Rudolph Schevill, â€œErasmus and Spain,â€ in Hispanic Review () (f), pp. â€“fft. f. Hernndez was suspected of at least one of these countsâ€”possibly being born of Jewish descentâ€”and historians speculate he may have been suspected of sympathy for Jewish ortho doxies during his time at the Monastery of Guadalupe in Southern Spain. See Benito-Vessels, â€œ H ernndez in Mxico,â€ pp. bâ€“; see also John E. Longhurst, â€œLuther in Spain: fbrâ€“fbr,â€ in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society fr(f) (fb), pp. ttâ€“. . Juan Pimentel, â€œe Iberian Vision: Science and Empire in the Framework of a Univer sal Monarchy, fbrrâ€“frr,â€ in Roy McLeod (ed.), Nature and Empire: Science and the Colonial E n terprise , Special Issue of Osiris fb (rrr), pp. fâ€“r. . Hernndez, Obras Completas , Volume : Historia Natural de Cayo Plinio Segundo. Along with his translation, Hernndez oered a substantial commentary on the scientic Notes to Pages tâ€“r
ft relevance of the work, showcasing his broad literary and medical training at Alcal, as well as anthropological ambitions in the Americas. See also David A. Gorucho, â€œAnthropology, Reason, and the Dictates of Faith in the Antiquities of Francisco Hernndez,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature, pp. râ€“fr. . Jos M. Lopez Piero and Jos Pardo-Toms, â€œe Contribution of Hernndez to Eu ropean Botany and Materia Medica,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Se arching for the Secrets of Nature, pp. fâ€“f. b. Kathleen Ann Myers, Fernndez de Oviedoâ€™s Chronicle of America, pp. fâ€“t; Miguel de Asa and Roger Kenneth French, A New World of Animals: Early Modern Europeans on the Creatures of Iberian America (rrb), pp. tâ€“; Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature, pp. fâ€“. t. Goodman, Power and Penury, pp. bâ€“t. . Francisco Hernndez, â€œLetter to King Philip II, November/December fbf.â€ See Va rey, e Mexican Treasury, p. . . F rancisco Hernndez, â€œe Instructions of Philip II to Dr. Francisco Hernndez,â€ in Varey, e Mexican Treasury, p. t. . For analysis of the civilizational narrative within Las Casas and Sahagn, see Todorov, e Conquest of America . r. Mara M. Portuondo, â€œe Study of Nature, Philosophy, and the Royal Library of San Lorenzo of the Escorial,â€ in Renaissance Quarterly t() (rfr), pp. ffrtâ€“ffbr. f. Francisco Hernndez, Quatro libros de la Naturaleza, y virtudes de las plantas y ani males que estn reunidos en el uso de Medicina en la Nueva Espaa, y el Mtodo, y correccin, y p r eparacin, que para administrallas se requiere con lo que el Doctor Francisco Hernndez escribi en lengua latina, ftfb. Housed in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, Providence, RI. . J. Worth Estes, â€œe Reception of American Drugs in Europe, fbrrâ€“ftbr,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature, pp. fffâ€“ff. . Francisco Hernndez, Rafael Chabrn and Simon Varey, â€œâ€˜An Epistle to Arias Montanoâ€™ : An English Translation of a Poem by Francisco Hernndez,â€ in Huntington Library Quarterly , bb() (f), pp. trâ€“t. . J. A. Jones, â€œPedro de Valenciâ€™s Defence of Arias Montano: e Expurgatory Indexes of ftr (Rome) and ftf (Madrid),â€ in Bibliothque dâ€™Humanisme et Renaissance r(f) (f), pp. ffâ€“ft. b. Francisco Hernndez, â€œLetter to King Philip II, May fbf.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury , p. . t. Ibid., p. . . Francisco Hernndez, â€œAn Epistle to Arias Montano.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury, pp. tfâ€“t, lines fâ€“, tâ€“r, bâ€“tf. . Ibid., p. t, n. b. . Peter Oâ€™Malley Pierson, â€œPhilip II: Imperial Obligations and Scientic Vision,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature, pp. ftâ€“f. r. Phelan, â€œAuthority and Flexibility in the Spanish Imperial Bureaucracy,â€ pp. bâ€“tr. f. Hernndez, â€œAn Epistle to Arias Montano.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury, pp. tâ€“ t, lines tâ€“f, â€“f. . Francisco Hernndez, â€œLetter to King Philip II, March fb.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury , pp. bâ€“b.Notes to Pages râ€“
ftb. Francisco Hernndez, â€œLetter ff to King Philip II, February fbt.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury, p. b. . B oth earlier and later works of natural history, for example, did not encounter the practical challenges and diculties in dissemination that Hernndezâ€™s work did. See Mara de la Luz Ayala, â€œLa Historia Natural en el Siglo XVI: Oviedo, Acosta y Hernndez,â€ in Estudios del Hombre r (rrb), pp. fâ€“. b. For more on the relationship between Oviedo, Monardes, and Hernndez as pioneers in the study of the New Worldâ€™s natural history, see Jos Pardo-Toms, El Tesoro Natural de Amrica: Colonialismo y Ciencia en el Siglo XVI (rr). t. No doubt much of the radical thrust behind Hernndezâ€™s eorts has been lost along with the missing works. As Jaime Vilchis argues, however, the sporadic, yet far-reaching im pact of Hernndezâ€™s writings nevertheless â€œ[allowed] an understanding of the New World, in w hic h microcosm and macrocosm come together in a nutshell, in whose kernel man was the unifying umbilical cord, the point of convergence of the natural and the supernatural.â€ See Jaime Vilchis, â€œGlobalizing the Natural History,â€ in Varey, Rafael Chabrn, and Dora B. Weiner (eds.), Searching for the Secrets of Nature, p. f. . Pardo-Toms, El Tesoro Natural de Amrica, pp. fbfâ€“bt. . Varey, e Mexican Treasury, p. . . Hernndez, â€œAn Epistle to Arias Montano.â€ See Varey, e Mexican Treasury, pp. tâ€“ t, lines frrâ€“fr, frâ€“f. br. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (rr), p. . bf. Prieto, Missionary Scientists , p. fr. b. Antonio Lafuente, â€œEnlightenment in an Imperial Context: Local Science in the LateEighteenth-Century Hispanic World,â€ in Osiris fb (rrr), pp. fbbâ€“f.Chapter . Jos de Acosta and the Ends of Empiref. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . . Ibid., pp. â€“. . Adorno, e Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative, pp. rbâ€“f; Prieto, Missionary Scientists , pp. fâ€“ft. . Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . b. Surprisingly, there is an inadequate amount of secondary literature by political theorists that has attempted to trace the appropriation of Acostaâ€™s writings by early modern thinkers. Particularly curious is the lack of comparisons between Acosta and the British philosophers that dedicated the most time to his observationsâ€”Locke and Bacon. Lockeâ€™s famous invention of the â€œstate of natureâ€ has been previously shown to have relied heavily on Acostaâ€™s ethno graphic observations. See William G. Batz, â€œe Historical Anthropology of John Locke,â€ in J o urnal of the History of Ideas b() (f), pp. ttâ€“tr. Baconâ€™s reliance on Acosta, moreover, has only cursorily been studied, despite resounding parallels and stylistic similarities. See Sil via Manzo, â€œUtopian Science and Empire: Notes on the Iberian Background of Francis Baconâ€™s P r oject,â€ in Studii de tiinr fi Culturr , Anul VI, t () (rfr), pp. fffâ€“f. t. Research in natural history was an indispensable stimulus in the development of ver nacular literary cultures. Indeed, recent work in the history of the eld has shown it to be a cen t ral feature of the transitions between medieval and early modern scholarship, as well as the gateway to development in the physical sciences. See Nicholas Jardine, Anne Secord, and Emma Spary (eds.), Cultures of Natural History (ft).Notes to Pages â€“frt
ftt . John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (f), pp. â€“b (fr). . e full quotation is as follows: â€œOne who hath well settled in his mind the principles of morality and knows how to make a judgment on the actions of men . . . may learn great and useful instructions of prudence from a study of history.â€ See John Locke, Journal , tâ€“fr April ft, Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, MS f.. Quoted in Barbara Arneil, John Locke and America: e Defense of English Colonialism (ft), p. . . Arneil, John Locke and America , p. . fr. Locke, Two Treatises of Government, p. rf (). ff. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . f. Arneil, John Locke and America , p. f. f. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, pp. fâ€“. f. Ibid. fb. Ibid., pp. â€“frr. ft. Claudio M. Burgaleta, Jos de Acosta (â€“): His Life and ought (f), pp. frâ€“fr; see also Jorge Caizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, â€“ (rrt), pp. frâ€“ff. f. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . e expression â€œtorturing na tureâ€™s secrets out of her,â€ itself an extrapolation of Gottfried Leibnizâ€™s phrase â€œputting nature o n the rack,â€ is oen misattributed to Francis Bacon and has been the subject of much historiographical debate. Bacon, in fact, held far more scientic anities with the Spaniards t h an is oen acknowledged. See Peter Pesic, â€œWrestling with Proteus: Francis Bacon and the â€˜Tortureâ€™ of Nature,â€ in Isis r(f) (March f), pp. fâ€“. See also Manzo, â€œUtopian Science and Empire,â€ pp. ffâ€“fft. f. Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. r. f. Marc Andr Bernier, Clorinda Donato, and Hans-Jrgen Lsebrink (eds.), Jesuit Ac counts of the Colonial Americas: Intellectual Transfers, Intellectual Disputes, and Textualities (r f ), p. f. r. Ibid. f. ere is an impressive secondary literature focusing on the role of the demonic and the monstrous in early natural history and how its evolution led to the emergence of visual and artistic cultures between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. See Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, â€“ (f). . Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, pp. â€“fr. . Sabine MacCormack, Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru (ff), pp. tfâ€“t. . Translation of the following original text: â€œEn que se tratan las cosas notable del cielo, y elementos, metales, plantas y animales de ellas [las Indias]; y los ritos, y ceremonias, leyes, y gobierno, y guerras de los Indios.â€ See Jos de Acosta, Historia natural y moral de las Indias (Sevilla: Juan de Len, fbr). Heir to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Philip II was respon sible for commissioning the rst cartographic r e lacines (surveys) of the New World, opening a space for commercial, scientic, and theological pursuits, most of which were reliant on eld manuals like Acostaâ€™s Historia Natural . See Mundy, e Mapping of New Spain, pp. fâ€“fr. Isabel herself would go on to become sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands from fb to ft, heralding a so-called Golden Age of the Spanish Netherlands until the liberation of the Low Countries in ft. See Cordula Van Wyhe (ed.), Isabel Clara Eugenia: Female Sovereignty in the Courts of Madrid and Brussels (rff). b. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, pp. bâ€“t.Notes to Pages frtâ€“ffr
ftt. Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. t. . Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. ; see also Caizares-Esguerra, Na ture, Empire, and Nation, pp. â€“t; and Burgaleta, Jos de Acosta, S.J., pp. frâ€“fft. . Saul Jarcho, â€œOrigin of the American Indian as Suggested by Fray Joseph de Acosta (fb),â€ in Isis br() (fb), pp. râ€“. . Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. b. r. Ibid. f. Prieto, Missionary Scientists , pp. fbâ€“ft. . Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. b. . Antonio Barrera-Osorio, â€œEmpire and Knowledge: Reporting from the New World,â€ in Colonial Latin American Review fb(f) (rrt), pp. â€“b. . Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. fr. See also Bleichmar, Visible Em pire , p p. â€“ft. b. Caizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation, p. ff. t. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. xvii. . Ibid., pp. tâ€“. . Ibid., p. xxii. . Pagden, for example, sees Acosta as an originator of the framework now commonly understood as part of the Scottish Enlightenment. See Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, pp. fâ€“rr. r. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, pp. fâ€“fb. f. Ibid., pp. râ€“f. e scripture Acosta refers to is Psalm fb, Verse t, which reads: â€œe Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.â€ . Ibid., p. f. . Antonio Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature (rrt), pp. â€“. . Leslie Paul iele, e Heart of Judgment: Practical Wisdom, Neuroscience, and Narra tive (rrt), p p . fâ€“fb. b. Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature, p. . t. Sarah Irving, Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire (rr), p. r. . Silvia Manzo has made a compelling case for reading Baconâ€™s use of the Spanish Em pire, and Acostaâ€™s writings in particular, far more sympathetically than what Irving presents. S h e notes, for example, how â€œearly modern imperial Spain seems to have been assessed by Bacon as a model of growing empire in contrast to the imperfect and timid British attempts to gain the world overseas. On his evaluation, the leading educational system and the learn ing of the Jesuits was one of the grounds of Spainâ€™s greatness. To this ground, he added the e co nomic wealth achieved thanks to the treasures obtained from the Spanish colonies. e nancial, political and institutional support of the navigational expeditions was thought to be a fundamental issue in this regard. So was the administration of political power through specic commissions subordinated to a central council. Spain could be seen as a fortunate instance of the application of science to the construction and expansion of empire.â€ See Silvia Manzo, â€œUtopian Science and Empire: Notes on the Iberian Background of Francis Baconâ€™s Project,â€ in Studii de tiinr fi Culturr , Anul VI, t () (rfr), p. f. . Irving, Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire, p. . . Stephen Gaukroger, Review of Sarah Irving, Natural Science and the Origins of the Brit ish Empire in Is is frr() (rr), pp. râ€“rb. br. According to Walter Mignolo, for example, Acosta was responsible for inaugurating a Notes to Pages fffâ€“f
ft scientic search for the mechanics of nature that would contribute to human freedom. Acosta himself may have proclaimed that â€œknowing the natural world was knowing and admiring its creator,â€ but the emerging work of Francis Bacon and other natural philosophers instead advocated a method that â€œ[replaced] the search for causes with the search for laws.â€ Manâ€™s relationship to nature was thus transformed from one of mutual elucidation to one of confron tation. See Walter D. Mignolo, â€œCommentary: Jos de Acostaâ€™s Historia natural y moral de las Ind ias : Occidentalism, the Modern/Colonial World, and the Colonial Dierence,â€ in Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. b.Epilogue. Toward a Natural History of Colonial Dominationf. Jos de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . . George Antony omas, e Politics and Poetics of Sor Juana In Ã¾e s d e la Cruz (rf), pp. â€“bt; see also Stephanie Kirk, Sor Juana In Ã¾e s d e la Cruz and the Gender Politics of Knowledge in Colonial Mexico (rft). . Octavio Paz, Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz o las trampas de la fe (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Econmica, fb). . Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz, Poems, Protests, and a Dream (f), p. ffb. b. Pagden, e Fall of Natural Man, p. . t. Alison McQueen, Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times (rf); Brian Harding, Not Even a God Can Save Us Now: Reading Machiavelli aer Heidegger (rf); Adam Kotsko, Neoliberal ismâ€™s Demons: On the Political eology of Late Capital (rf). . C arey, â€œLatin American Environmental History,â€ pp. â€“. . Nicholas Copeland, â€œMeeting Peasants Where ey Are: Cultivating Agroecological Alternatives in Neoliberal Guatemala,â€ in Journal of Peasant Studies t(), pp. fâ€“b. . ea Riofrancos, â€œScaling Democracy: Participation and Resource Extraction in Latin America,â€ in Perspectives on Politics fb() (September rf), pp. tâ€“tt; see also Mauro J. Caraccioli, â€œOf Cursed States: Contentious Energy Narratives in Contemporary Bolivia,â€ in Ryan Kiggins (ed.), e Political Economy of Rare Earths: Rising Powers and Technological Change (rfb), pp. fâ€“f; and Cara Daggett, e Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, ermodynam ics, and the Politics of Work (rf). fr. Of p a rticular note are the burgeoning dialogues between historians, geographers, and social theorists around the burning questions of climate change and catastrophe. See Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici (eds.), Centering Animals in Latin American History (rf); see also Laura Ephraim, Who Speaks for Nature? On the Politics of Science (rf); and Anna Lowen haupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt (eds.), Arts of Living on a Da maged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (rf). ff. Robyn Eckersly, e Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (rr); Jede diah Purdy, Aer Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene (rf). f. M ic hel Foucault, e Order of ings: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (f), p. xxiii. f. Juan Pimentel, â€œBaroque Natures: Juan E. Nieremberg, American Wonders, and Pret erimperial Natural History,â€ in Daniela Bleichmar, Paula De Vos, Kristine Hune, and Kevin S h eehan (eds.), Science in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, â€“ (rr), pp. â€“ff. f. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, p. . fb. ough many of these positions have evolved over the last decades, representative ex amples include: Quentin Skinner, â€œMeaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,â€ in Notes to Pages fâ€“ff
ftJames Tully (ed.), Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and His Critics (f), pp. â€“t; J.G.A. Pocock, â€œe Concept of a Language and the Mtier dâ€™Historien: Some Consideration on Practice,â€ in Anthony Pagden (ed.), e Languages of Political eory in Early-Modern Europe (f); and Richard A. Ashcra, â€œPolitical eory and the Problem of Ideology,â€ in Journal of Politics (fr), pp. tâ€“f. For more recent interventions, see Jerey Edward Green, â€œPolitical eory as Both Philosophy and History: A Defense against Methodological Militancy,â€ in Annual Review of Political Science f (rfb), pp. bâ€“f; Adrian Blau, â€œHis tory of Political ought as Detective-Work,â€ in H i story of European Ideas f() (rfb), pp. ffâ€“ff; and Joshua Simon, â€œInstitutions, Ideologies, and Comparative Political eory,â€ in Perspectives on Politics (rf), Online First: https://doi.org/fr.frf/Sfbbfrrff. ft. Onur Ulas Ince, â€œPrimitive Accumulation, New Enclosures, and Global Land Grabs: A eoretical Intervention,â€ in Rural Sociology (f) (rf), pp. frâ€“ff; Sarah Johnson, â€œe Early Life of Marxâ€™s â€˜Mode of Production,â€™â€ in Modern Intellectual History (rf), Online First: https://doi.org/fr.frf/Sffrrr. f. Naomi Klein, is Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, rf), p. . f. Kenny Ausubel, Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature (rf), p. ft. f. Some recent exceptions include: Jeanne Moreeld, Empires without Imperialism (rf); Joshua Simon, e Ideology of Creole Revolution ; Adom Getachew, Worldmaking aer Empire: e Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (rf); and Yomaira C. Figueroa, Decolonizing Dias poras: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (rr). r. C o nsider, for example, the critical discussion raised by Cara Daggett concerning the links between a radical politics of work in the Anthropocene and what a genealogy of en ergy, production, waste, and exploitation can clarify about our ability to imagine ecological a l ternatives to capitalist-dependent forms of labor. See Cara Daggett, e Birth of Energy, pp. fâ€“rt. f. omas L. Fleischner, â€œWhy Natural History Matters,â€ in e Journal of Natural History Education and Experience b (rff), p. f. . Ibid., p. . . Neil L. Whitehead, Of Cannibals and Kings: Primal Anthropology in the Americas (rff), p. . . Caizares-Esguerra, â€œe Colonial Iberian Roots of the Scientic Revolution,â€ pp. â€“t. b. Leslie Paul iele, Indraâ€™s Net and the Midas Touch: Living Sustainably in a Connected World (rf). t. Simon Dalby, â€œRecontextualising Violence, Power and Nature: e Next Twenty Years of Critical Geopolitics?,â€ in Political Geography (rfr), pp. râ€“. . Arturo Escobar, â€œLatin America at a Crossroadsâ€; Fernando Coronil, â€œe Future in Question: History and Utopia in Latin America (fâ€“rfr),â€ in Craig Calhoun and Georgi Derluguian (eds.), Business as Usual: e Roots of the Global Financial Meltdown (New York: New York University Press, rff), pp. fâ€“.Notes to Pages ffâ€“ff
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Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations; the letter t refers to tables. An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies (Las Casas): audience of, bb; criticisms of, b; epigraph quotations, ; epistemology of, b; ethnographic qualities, bt, fbtn; eyewitness accounts, bâ€“b; future orientation, bb; ideological contexts, , fbtn; impact of, f, bb; on indigenous peoples, bâ€“bb, bâ€“tr, fbnr; mentioned, ; as naturalist epic, btâ€“tr, f; overview of, râ€“f, b; relational morality, bt; rhetorical style, b; on Spainâ€™s moral duties, tr; Spanish atrocities in, f, bâ€“bb, b; utopianism, bâ€“b, bt, b; wonder in, tr Acosta, Jos de: Bacon, innuence on, f; the demonic, fear of, ; education, ffr; and empire, histories of, f; empiricism of, ff, ff, ffâ€“, f; expedition purposes, , ffr; goals of, fr; Hernndezâ€™s innuence on, fr; as humanist scholar, fff, f, ft; and imperialism, fâ€“; and indigenous peoples, , f, , fbbn; innuence of, frbâ€“; Jesuit duties, ffr; judgment, conception of, fr, frt, fr; versus Las Casas, fr, fr, ff, f; legacy of, f, ft, ft; Locke, innuence on, , frtâ€“, ff, fr, ftbnb; as missionary, ffbâ€“ft, ft, f; natural history approach, frâ€“b, fr, ff, f; nature and local knowledge, f; natureâ€™s mechanics, search for, ftnbr; Old World ideas, questioning of, f, ffrâ€“ff, f; versus Oviedo, ff; in Peru, fâ€“, ffr; political ambiguity, ftâ€“; popularity of, ffb; as rational-religious bridge, frb; and Sahagn, , fr; Scholasticism, challenges to, f, ffrâ€“ff; and the Scientic Revolution, f; and the Spanish Crown, ffr; and theology, ff, ffâ€“fb, frâ€“f, f Acosta, Jos de, natural philosophy of: and Christianity, fr; development of, f; divine order in, ff; innuence of, frbâ€“t; in Natural and Moral History of the Indies, , frâ€“fr; and natural history, ff; versus Scholasticism, fâ€“; and theology, ff Acosta, Jos de, writings of: distribution of, ffâ€“; and imperial science, ; innuence of, frbâ€“t; on minerals, ; misappropriations of, frtâ€“; missionary eld manual, ; naturalist dissonance in, â€“; and New World conquest, fr; Pagdenâ€™s use of, t; practical philosophy and domination, ; reception of, frb. See also Natural and Moral History of the Indies Adorno, Rolena, f, b Alcal University, â€“f, b, ffr Altepetl, Ammon, Laura, t, Antigrand narratives, , frr Arias, Santa, bb Armitage, David, fbbnr Arneil, Barbara, frtâ€“ Ausubel, Kenny, fâ€“ Bacon, Francis: Acostaâ€™s innuence on, , frt, f, ftbnb; and Imperial Spainâ€™s empiricism, f; and New World encounters, f; on the Spanish Empire, fâ€“, ftn; â€œtorturing natureâ€™s secretsâ€ phrase, fttnf Barkawi, Tarak, fbnft
f Barrera-Osorio, Antonio: on Acosta, , ff, ff; on early modernity, r; on empiricism, fbtnr; on Enlightenment historiography, fbtn; on Hernndez, Bentancor, Orlando, b, fnr Black Legend narratives, b, ff, f Brevsima relacin de la destruccin de las Indias. See An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies Bureaucracy, colonial, b, Caizares-Esguerra, Jorge: on Acosta, f, ff, ff, f, f; on Enlightenment historiography, fbtn; on epic poetry, fbfn; on Hernndezâ€™s expedition, t; on Iberian reputations, ; on Las Casas, bâ€“b; on missionaries and the Devil, ; on naturalism and imperialism, ; on New World historiography, , fnb; on Spainâ€™s reputation, fâ€“r Carey, Mark, fnfr Carr, David, ft Cervantes, Fernando, râ€“f Chapter overviews, ffâ€“f Charles V, f, Chivalric epics: versus natural history, fâ€“; Oviedoâ€™s, â€“, fbnf; of La Reconquista, f, tâ€“; religious overtones, , fbfn Cicero, fr Civilizational narratives: and indigenous peoples, t, tf; Las Casas and, t; modern, f; natural history as, f; nature in, fr; New World, fâ€“ Clark, Stuart, Classical texts and thought: at Alcal, â€“f; challenges to, frâ€“b, ffâ€“f; indigenous peoples challenging, ; and nature, f; Nebrijaâ€™s innuence on, ; New World applicability, fb, , tt, f; reevaluations of, r Climate change, t, fâ€“, frâ€“f, fnf Cobo, Bernab, fr, fr Colonization, African versus New World, b Comparative ethnology, tâ€“ Comparative systems, cultural, Composite states, f Conquest narratives, â€“, tt Coronil, Fernando, ff Cosmographers, f, fff, ff, fbtn Cronon, William, f, fnb Cruz, Juana Ins de la, f Cult of St. Anne, â€“ Data collection, r, , b, , f Debate at Valladolid, bb, trâ€“tf, fbn Demonology: as anthropology, â€“r, â€“b, ; and millenarianism, ; and missionary training, r; and the natural environment, ; political, t; thinking with, Descartes, fbnt e Devil and diabolism: Acostaâ€™s fear of, ; in Acostaâ€™s writings, , fr, fft; indigenous appropriations of, f; indigenous views of, r; and landscapes, b; missionaries and, Dioscorides, râ€“f Domination, bâ€“t, f, Dryzek, John, Eamon, William, Early modern period: emergence of, f; epistemologies of, ff; intellectual changes, râ€“f; the New World, images of, r; political theory, â€“; science in, , fâ€“, ff; Spanish thinkers, fâ€“ Elliot, John H., f Empire: as cultivation ideology, ; denitions of, fbnft; and faith, fr; formalization of, f; and liberalism, â€“; and nature, f, fr, fbn; and science, t, fr; and Spanish naturalism, tf; term meaning changes, b Empire, political theory of: and globalization, â€“; historical contexts, â€“; history of, ; and history of science, trâ€“tf; intellectual contexts, ; and liberalism, â€“, â€“, fbnf; nature in, r; and the social status quo, ; the Spanish, â€“b, fbnb; and Spanish America, ; turn towards, Empiricism: Acostaâ€™s, ff, ff, ffâ€“, f; and early modern science, f; of imperial explorers, ff; institutionalization of, fbtnr; and New World encounters, Enlightenment: French, â€“; Hispanic, fr; historiography of, fbtn; Scottish, â€“, ; Spanish contributions to, r, ff, f Environmental destruction, f Environments, natural. See Nature Epic poetry. See Chivalric epics Epistle to Arias Montano (Hernndez): English translation, ftn; expedition goals, â€“frr; expedition laments, â€“t; overview of, , â€“ Escobar, Arturo, ff Ethnography: Acosta and, ff; exploration as
f authority, bt; Las Casas and, bt, fb, fbtn; natural history, role in, ; Sahagnâ€™s, â€“, tâ€“t, f, fb Exploration, debates over, fâ€“ Faith and naturalism, tf Farr, James, Fleischner, omas, f Florentine Codex (Sahagn): on Ahuizotls, t, ; as anthropological demonology, ; bird of the heart, tâ€“; Book XI overview, t, b; contexts of, t, , r; Cult of St. Anne, â€“; diabolism in, â€“b, r; ethnographic approach, f, fb; history of, t; in the history of political thought, tb; idolatry, approach to, â€“f; imperial agenda of, ; inconsistencies in, tb; indigenous cultures and peoples in, tâ€“tb, t, , ftrnf, frnr; indigenous knowledge in, , t, t, b; innovations of, f; and intellectual historiography, tb; interlingualism of, , t, b, â€“r; and interlingual relations, b, â€“; land, concepts of, ; millenarianism of, ; missionary strategies, f; nature and religion, â€“f; and nature, attitudes toward, r; obscurity of, t, t; overview of, , t; scholarly attention to, t, t; Toci myth, t, â€“; as values mediation, b; yolia, tâ€“ Foucault, Michel, , fr Franciscan Order: and diabolism, râ€“f, ; and the Florentine Codex, t; millenarianism of, ; missionaries, tâ€“f, â€“, t Fuchs, Barbara, fbn Fuentes, Carlos, fr, f Fuerst, James, b, fnr Furst, Jill McKeever, t Gaukroger, Stephen, f Gerbi, Antonello, bâ€“b, ftn, fbn Gimmel, Millie, b, Great Book, nature as, , t, â€“, fft Greenblatt, Stephen, Hanke, Lewis, fr Hardt, Michael, fbnft Heidegger, Martin, f Hernndez, Francisco: and ancient sources, râ€“ f, ftn; birth, ; career trajectory, â€“t, frf; data collection, ; detractors, â€“, b, ; drawings of, ; education, , ftn; epigraph quotations, ; the Hernndez Aair, bâ€“t, frrâ€“frf; humanist optimism of, fâ€“; and humanist philology, bâ€“t; and imperial science, t; and indigenous knowledge, ; innuence, medical, ; and Judaism, , ftnf; medical interests, , f, fb; mentioned, fbâ€“ft, b; natural philosophy of, â€“, f; nature, interpretation of, fft; and nature-society interaction, frf; the New World, views of, ; and Philip II, f, , â€“; political ambiguity, ftâ€“; and the Renaissance, ; Sahagnâ€™s innuence on, ; scholarship on, ; scientic authorities, relationship with, t; and Spanish naturalists, â€“; success of, Hernndez, Francisco, botanical expedition: classication model developed, t; and colonization, frf; data and sample collection, , ; diculties faced, â€“; as failure, , â€“; goals of, â€“frr; and humanism, frf; impact of, bâ€“t, â€“; imperial sanction of, , â€“; medicinal information, t; and narrative politics, f, frr; opposition to, â€“, ; overview of, t; political contexts, ; purposes of, f, ; resource lacks, b, ; social environment, ; as success, fbâ€“t. See also Epistle to Arias Montano Hernndez, Francisco, writings of: botanical descriptions, ; goals of, f; and imperial power, ; and imperial science, ; innuence of, , fr, ftbnt; manuscripts, journey of, â€“frf; naturalist dissonance in, â€“; practical philosophy and domination, ; publication of, , b, , ftn; rediscovery of, fr; scope of, b; survival of, fbâ€“t; translations, b, ftn. See also Epistle to Arias Montano Historia Natural. See Natural and Moral History of the Indies Historical International Relations, b Historical stages typologies, Historiography: Enlightenment, fbtn; intellectual, tb; New World, , b, f, ffb, fnb; politics of, frâ€“ History and social progress theory, â€“ Hobbes, omas, Homan, Stanley, Honig, Bonnie, Hooker, Juliet, b, fnf Humanism: Hernndez and, bâ€“t, fâ€“, frf; Jesuit, fff, ffb, f, ft; Las Casas and, fnf; and narrative politics, â€“r; in the Spanish Empire, â€“
fr Humanists, Spanish, râ€“f, Humboldt, Alexander von, f, , ff Imagination, f Indigenous beliefs and knowledge: biases against, tâ€“tb; importance to Spaniards, r; Sahagnâ€™s collection of, , t, t, b; study of, changes in, ft; translation of, Indigenous cultures and peoples: Acostaâ€™s views of, fbbn; and civilization narratives, t, tf; and demons, ; and Devil gures, râ€“f; dispossession of, fn; European views of, t, ttâ€“t, fbbnnfâ€“; in the Florentine Codex, tâ€“tb, t, , ftrnf, frnr; good-and-evil concepts, f; Iberian traveler reliance on, ; Las Casas and, , bâ€“bb, ftn, fbbn; missionary encounters, t, ; and natural man construction, t; nature, relationship to, tf; and political theory, tb, ; rituals, Christianized, râ€“f; Sahagnâ€™s views of, ; savage critic trope, fbbnf. See also Sahagn, Bernardino de, and indigenous peoples Inquisition, ffb Interlingual relations, b, â€“, ftn International Relations (eld), b, fbbnr, ftfn Interpretation, ff, fft, ff, fr Irving, Sarah, fâ€“ Isabella, Queen, , ftnft Jahn, Beate, ftfn Jesuit Order. See Society of Jesus Judgment: Acostaâ€™s conception of, fr, frt, fr; developing, ff; Jesuit concepts of, fr; and nature, , frt Keene, Edward, b Klein, Naomi, f Laey, Mark, fbnft Latau, Joseph-Franois, fr de Landa, Diego, Language: interlingual relations, b, â€“, ftn; of the Spanish Empire, ; study of, Las Casas, Bartolom de: versus Acosta, fr, fr, ff, f; on barbarians, fbbn; and civilization narratives, t; conquest, morality of, fb; conversion of, b; versus Hernndez, f; as historian, f; as humanist, fnf; imperialism support, bb, fbnb; and indigenous peoples, , bâ€“bb, ftn, fbbn; mentioned, fb; natural history, approach to, b; natural law, b; natural philosophy of, f; nature, views of, tr, fft; New World, attitudes toward, t, ; Oviedo, rivalry with, râ€“f, , b, fbn; political ambiguity, ftâ€“; and La Reconquista, ; reputation of, b; rhetorical description, ft; and utopianism, fbnbt. See also Debate at Valladolid Las Casas, Bartolom de, writings of: Apologtica historia, b, fbtn; and conquest narratives, , â€“; criticisms of, b; ethical models in, ; ethnographic qualities, b; rst-hand experience in, bt, b; General and Natural History, t; historical perspectives in, b; ideological contexts, ; indigenous peoples, ; versus Las Casasâ€™s, bâ€“t; nature and wonder, tâ€“; nature in, b, r, ; versus Oviedoâ€™s, bâ€“t; Pagdenâ€™s use of, t; personal experiences in, bb; on Spainâ€™s responsibilities, b; on Spanish atrocities, f, f. See also An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies Latin America: colonial, tb, ftn; contemporary connicts, f; contemporary problems, fr; subaltern modes of thinking, f; utopian literary genres, bâ€“t Len-Portilla, Miguel, tb Liberalism, â€“, â€“, fbnf Literary cultures, frt, ftbnt Locke, John: Acostaâ€™s innuence on, , frtâ€“, ff, fr, ftbnb; on agriculture, fn; on the Americasâ€™ place in history, frt; on New World life, ft Manzo, Silvia, ftn Merrim, Stephanie, â€“ Microhistories, Mignolo, Walter, ff, fbtn, ftnbr Millenarianism, , , , f Miller, Shawn, fâ€“f Miranda, Juan de, f, fnf Missionaries: Augustinian view of the world, t; challenges faced, r; compromises made, r; cultural accommodation, ; as destructive, â€“; and diabolism, râ€“f, ; Franciscan, tâ€“r, â€“, t; indigenous customs exposure, ; indigenous peoples, views of, t; Jesuit, fr, ffr; and judgment, ff; and natural history, ; and naturalist data, ; training of, r; and yolia, t Modernity and Spanish imperialism, tfâ€“t, f
ff Molina, Luis de, f, fnf Monardes, Nicolas, râ€“f, â€“ Montano, Arias, Montesinos, Antonio de, b Mosher, Michael, fbnb Myers, Kathleen Ann, , br, fbnb Narrative politics, , â€“f, frr Narratives: antigrand, , frr; of conquest, â€“, tt; and ethics, f; grand, , ; of lived experiences, ftâ€“f; of naturalist dissonance, fâ€“; naturalizing empire, f; normative power of, ff; and power, ff; theoretical paradigms of, ftâ€“f, fnb; travel, t. See also Natural history of the New World, constitutive narratives of Natural and Moral History of the Indies (Acosta): canonical readings of, ffâ€“; the Church, challenges to, fffâ€“f, fftâ€“f; demons and devils in, , fr, fft; empiricism of, ff, ff, ffâ€“; epigraph quotations, ft; on the equator, fr; ethnographic sensibilities, ff; European audience of, frâ€“; frontispiece, ; goals of, frâ€“, ffâ€“f, ff; historical contexts, frâ€“, ffâ€“ft; impact of, , ff, ffb, f; and imperial political economy, ff; innuence of, f; interpretive contexts, ff; interpretive methodology, fr, ff, fft; as moral history, ffbâ€“ft; narrative approach, ff; narrative dissonance in, frb, ff, ff, f; natural phenomenon analyses, fftâ€“f; natural philosophy of, , frâ€“fr; nature, interpretations of, ff; nature-society interactions, fr; and novelty, ffb, fâ€“b; political-religions tensions, frâ€“f; and political theory, frb; practical applications of, ff; river descriptions, fr; Scholasticism, challenges to, ffrâ€“ff; strengths of, ff; structure of, ffâ€“fb; style of, fr; theological aspects, ff, ff; writing of, Natural history: contemporary relevance, f, f; early modern, t, f; evolution of, fb; historical methods, ff; and history of empire, ff; as imperial strategy, ; moral dimensions, fâ€“; natural philosophy transformation, f; and nature, pleasures of, f; nature-society interactions, f, fr; as political theory genre, , f, fâ€“; in political theory history, , , r; and politics of historiography, frâ€“; and science, early modern, ff; and the Scientic Revolution, fâ€“fb; as scientic storytelling, f; as storytelling, f; and theology, fb; and vernacular literary cultures, ftbnt Natural history of the New World: accounts of, r; aims of, fbâ€“ft, ; aspirations of, f; and British imperialism, f; versus chivalric epics, fâ€“; as civilizational narrative, f; and colonial expansion, ; as coveted discipline, frr; and cultural interpretation, fr; data collection, f; disrepute of, f; elements comprising, tf; Enlightenment critiques of, â€“; on environments, impact of, ; epistemologies of possession, ftrn; ethnographyâ€™s role in, ; and European taxonomies, br; and experimental science, ; and extractivism, f; and historical understanding, tr; and historiographical knowledge, ffb; imagination in, f; and imperial decline, fâ€“; and imperialism, t, , ft, fr; and imperial priorities, ; and intellectual transformations, ; legitimating imperial rule, t; missionaries and, ; and morality, shiing conceptions of, f; narrative tropes, f; nature in, r, b; and nature-society interactions, frf, ff; as political, r, ; and political economy, ff; practitioners of, ; and the problem of recognition, br; published forms of, ff; and La Reconquista, fb, tt; religious dimensions, tt; and Renaissance thought, f; representational dilemmas, br, bt; rhetorical description in, ft; scientic aspirations of, ; scientic principles, enabling new, fr; shortcomings of, b; studies of, f; studying, importance of, fr; and subversive knowledge control, r; theological aspects, fr; untamed landscape tropes, f, fn; and wonder, â€“. See also Acosta, Jos de; Hernndez, Francisco; Las Casas, Bartolom de; Oviedo, Gonzalo Fernndez de; Sahagn, Bernardino de Natural history of the New World, constitutive narratives of: of conquest, â€“; demonology as anthropology, â€“r; naturalist dissonance, fâ€“; nature-society connections, â€“; overview of, , t; and La Reconquista, , t; tropes of, â€“ Natural history of the New World, innuence of: on modern science, , fr, f, frâ€“f; on modern thought, â€“, , fr; overview of, t; and political transformations,
f Naturalism: and empire, tf; and faith, tf; and imperialism, ; moral history of, fâ€“; in the New World, f; Spanish, f, tf, t, f, fâ€“ Naturalist dissonance narratives, fâ€“ Naturalist epics: Las Casasâ€™s, , bbâ€“tr, f; origins of, , fb; overview of, fâ€“; Oviedoâ€™s, f Natural man, t, r, frt Natural philosophy: debates of, fr; Hernndezâ€™s, â€“, f; Jesuit, frâ€“; Las Casasâ€™s, f; in Natural and Moral History of the Indies, , frâ€“fr; natural history roots, f; Oviedoâ€™s, f. See also Acosta, Jos de, natural philosophy of Natural slavery, f, fbn Nature: as actor, ; conceptualizations of, â€“b; and contemplation, f; and demonic forces, ; and empire, f, fr, fbn; and empire, political theory of, ; encounters with, ; and fear, r; Great Book metaphor, , t, â€“, fft; Hernndezâ€™s interpretations of, fft; historical roles of, f; and history, research on, f, fbn; impact on imperial actions, f; impact on people, b, ; interpretation of, fft; and judgment, , frt; modernist attitudes toward, frf; modern views of, fâ€“; moral appropriation of, t; as order, r; representations of, t; and value creation, Nature-faith-empire dynamics, b, tf, fft, f, fr Nature-society interactions: climate change, t, fâ€“, frâ€“f, fnf; contemporary, f, frâ€“f; exploring, frf; framings of, f; Hernndez and, frf; interdisciplinary approaches to, fâ€“r; moral dimensions, f; in natural history of the New World, frf, ff Nebrija, Antonio de, , f, ftnft New World: Bacon, innuence on, f; Baconâ€™s thought in, f; debates raised by, tr; and empirical learning, ; environmental history reconstructions, fnfr; historiographical dilemmas, f; historiography of, b; impacts of, , bâ€“t, f; and imperial extraction, f; information about, desire for, frb; intellectual activities in, f; myths about, bt; revolutionary implications of, tbâ€“tt; and wonder, fbntf New World, Spanish conquest of: Black Legend narratives, b, ff, f; and British imperialism, fâ€“; legislation changes following, f; natural history narratives of, â€“; natureâ€™s roles in, fr; notoriety of, f; religious views of, ; science informing, f; and scientic worldviews, emergence of, fâ€“r. See also Spiritual Conquest e noble savage, t Oâ€™Gorman, Edmundo, ffb Olarte, Mauricio Nieto, t Oviedo, Gonzalo Fernndez de: versus Acosta, ff; career of, â€“; and civilization narratives, t; conquest, morality of, fb; epigraph quotations, ; Hernndezâ€™s view of, f; as historian, f; indigenous peoples, view of, tf; Las Casas, rivalry with, râ€“f, , b, fbn; mentioned, fb, b; natural philosophy of, f; nature, views of, tr, , fft; and the New World, t, ; political ambiguity, ftâ€“; and La Reconquista, , , r; rhetorical description, ft Oviedo, Gonzalo Fernndez de, writings of: approach to, b; chivalric epics, â€“, fbnf; conquest narratives in, , ; ethical models in, ; eyewitness accounts in, bb; General and Natural history of the Indies, , , ; historical contexts, ; ideological contexts, ; ideologies of, bâ€“t; motivations for, b; nature as timeless, r; nature in, â€“b, , b; on Spainâ€™s responsibilities, b. See also Summary of the Natural History of the Indies Owensby, Brian, r Pagden, Anthony: on â€œbarbarians,â€ fbbn; on cultural relativism, fr; on Diego de Landa, ; on empire and nature, fbn; on epistemologies of possession, ftrn; e Fall of Natural Man, , f, t, r; on grand narratives, ; impact of, ; on indigenous peoples, European views of, t, fbbnf; on natural history projects, ; on naturalist epics, fâ€“; on the nature-faith-empire dynamic, f; on New World travelers, fn; on the problem of recognition, br, fnb; on representation, bt; on the scientic revolution, fbnt; on the Spanish Empire, fbn; work of, ff Pels, Peter, t Phelan, John, b Philip II: career of, fttn; and Hernndez, t, f, , â€“; science, interest in, ; son, bb Phillips, Anne, Pitts, Jennifer, , fâ€“, , trâ€“tf, fbnf Pliny, b, tt, , b, râ€“ Pocock, John, , fbn
f Political ethnology, Political judgment, ff Political theory: comparative, ; contemporary, fbnr; early modern, â€“; and indigenous peoples, tb, ; and Latin American studies, â€“; liberalism in, â€“, â€“, fbnf; methodology, ff; natural history, approach to, â€“; natural history as genre of, , f, fâ€“; of the Spanish Empire, b, ; training in, . See also Empire, political theory of Political theory, history of: interpretationâ€™s role in, ff; natural history in, , , r; natureâ€™s impact on, r; and the New World, bâ€“t, f; Sor Juanaâ€™s absence from, f; Spanish America, Portuguese Empire, Portuondo, Mara, f, tâ€“, Premo, Bianca, fr, r Prieto, Andrs, , b, fr, ff Primero Sueo, f Problem of recognition, br, fnb Recchi, Nardo Antonio, La Reconquista : chivalric poetry of, f, tâ€“; Las Casas and, ; and natural history, fbâ€“ft; and natural history narratives, , t; and the New World conquest, , fbn; overview of, fb; Oviedo and, , Reeves, Henry, b Renaissance, f, â€“frr Rhetoric, fr Ricard, Robert, r Ricoeur, Paul, ft Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, t Sahagn, Bernardino de: versus Acosta, fr; anthropological system of, r; empire, view of, fb; ethnographic work, â€“, tâ€“t, f, fb; versus Hernndez, f; innuence of, ; and landscapes, b; legacy of, ; mentioned, fbâ€“ft, b, t, ff; missionary aims of, tt, f, â€“; natural history of, f; nature, study of, t, fft; political ambiguity, ftâ€“; and religious compromise, r; reputation of, t; and the Spiritual Conquest, t, tâ€“, r, ; writings of, , â€“r. See also Florentine Codex Sahagn, Bernardino de, and indigenous peoples: collaboration with, â€“; cultural immersion, r; dehumanization of, t; knowledge collection, t; religion of, ; rituals collection, r; views of, , r, tt Said, Edward, ff Scholarly exclusion, f, f Scholasticism: versus Acostaâ€™s natural philosophy, fâ€“; challenges to, f, ffrâ€“ff; overview of, ; speculative intellect, tf School of Salamanca, fnf Science: early modern, fâ€“, ff; and empire, t, fr; experimental, ; and failure, , frr; grand narratives of, ; imperial politics of, t; natural, Acostaâ€™s groundwork for, f; natural historyâ€™s aspirations to, f; patriotic, ff; and politics, frf; principles of, fr; and state power, ; and storytelling, f Science, modern: natural historyâ€™s innuence, , fr, f, frâ€“f; naturalist contributions to, â€“ Scientic Revolution: Acostaâ€™s innuence on, f; emergence of, fâ€“fb, t; Iberian contributions, tâ€“; Iberian contributions, exclusions of, ff; natural history and, fâ€“fb Seed, Patricia, fb Seplveda, Juan Gins de. See Debate at Valladolid Sigal, Pete, f Skinner, Quentin, , Slavery, abolition of, bb Smith, Adam, ft Society of Jesus: founding of, ffr, ffb; imperial science contributions, fr; and judgment, fr; missionaries, fr, ffr; natural philosophy of, frâ€“; and spiritual cultivation, fft Spanish Empire: backwardness myths, fr, f; Bacon on, fâ€“, ftn; bureaucratic rivalry, f; Charles V, f, ; competing interests within, b; as composite state, f; cultural changes, â€“; decline of, ftâ€“; and the Enlightenment, fr, fn; Enlightenment criticisms of, â€“r; as environmental connict, ff; exploration and data collection, b; humanist science, â€“; ideologies, competing, â€“r; imperial legitimacy debates, , f, f; imperial political thought in, ; innovations of, fr; language, , ; modernity, contributions to, fâ€“r; narrative tropes of, f; nature, instrumentalization of, frf; negative reputation of, fâ€“r; New Laws of fb, bb; political nexibility of, fnr; in political theory, b, ; prejudices, common, r; Renaissance thought
f in, f; scientic endeavors, fâ€“f; and the scientic revolution, fbnt; spiritual cultivation of colonial society, ; state secrecy, fâ€“f, , b. See also New World, Spanish conquest of Spanish thinkers and the Western canon, fâ€“ Spiritual Conquest: missionaries and, ; overview of, ; Sahagn and, t, tâ€“, r, State of nature, frt, ftfn, ftbnb Stolley, Karen, b Summary of the Natural History of the Indies (Oviedo): challenges to description, br; empire-history relationships, â€“br; epistemology of, br, b, b; ideological contexts, , ; illustrations in, br, ; memory, as written from, b; as naturalist epic, f; purposes of, bâ€“b; and Spanish history, f; translations of, fbnb; writing of, eology: Acosta and, ff, ffâ€“fb, frâ€“f, f; and empire, f; and indigenous peoples, â€“, frb; liberation, fr; and natural history, fb; naturalist, , fr, f; and natural philosophy, ; and New World discovery, b; and Scholasticism, f iele, Leslie Paul, f, ff urner, Mark, f Todorov, Tzvetan, b, , fbrn Toledo, Francisco de, f, ffr, ffb Travel narratives, t Universidad de Alcal de Henares, â€“f, b, ffr von Vacano, Diego, b, b, fnf, fbnr Varey, Simon, b Vilchis, Jaime, ftbnt Vitoria, Francisco de, tf White, Hayden, ft Whitehead, Neil, f Wigen, Einar, ftn Wonder: cultivation of, ; European desire for, fb; in Las Casas, tâ€“, tr; moral, ; and naturalizing empire, ft; and nature, t; and New World encounters, ffb, fbntf; in Oviedo, tâ€“; phenomenology of, f; as political, t; and Spanish naturalism, tf Writing, , fbtn Ximenez, Francisco, Yolia, tâ€“ Spanish Empireâ€”continued
is assistant professor of political science and Core Faculty in the ASPECT program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia.