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Analogy or Erasure? Dialectics of Religious Transformation in the Early


Wernke, Steven A. (2007). Analogy or Erasure? Dialectics of Religious Transformation in the Early. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 11(2), 152-182.


This paper examines the tension between the Spanish evangelical ideal of religious conversion (erasure and replacement of “idolatrous” praxis) and the exigencies of its enactment (inter-cultural communication via analogy) among a series of sixteenth century Franciscan doctrinal settlements (doctrinas) in the Colca valley of southern Peru. I suggest that the necessity and outcomes of inter-cultural communication during initial evangelization made conversion impossible, despite increasing institutionalization of coercive doctrinal measures through time. Combined archaeological and historical analysis explores how these tensions were locally negotiated. Written texts describe early extirpation campaigns, while archaeological evidence documents the remains of early doctrinas in the form of rustic chapels at local settlements which were previously centers of Inka power. Associations between these chapels and Inka ritual spaces hint at an analogical approach to conversion that is not as evident in the documentary record. Analogies linking Inka and Christian religious symbols were later “re-written” onto the surfaces and spaces of Spanish-style reducción villages established in the 1570 s.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

International Journal of Historical Archaeology


Wernke, Steven A.