History •  Latin America and Religion

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Allies at Odds: The Andean Church and Its Indigenous Agents, 1583-1671

John Charles

Alternately viewed as servants of evangelization or the plotters of its demise, indios ladinos, native Andeans who mediated contact between the Catholic authorities and indigenous communities, are often omitted from histories of the Spanish spiritual conquest in the New World. Overshadowed by the more powerful European clergy, the experiences of these native assistants--the duties they performed, the historical mechanisms by which they learned Spanish law and writing, their juridical altercations with royal and church authority, and the consequences of native litigation for evangelization as a whole--provide a unique vantage point from which to observe the everyday workings of Spanish colonialism.

Focusing on the highland parishes of the Lima archdiocese, John Charles explores the vital, often conflictive role indigenous agents played in the creation of Andean Christian society. Torn between their obligation to enforce colonial laws and their customary obligation to protect native communities from the colonizers' abuses, indios ladinos used the Spanish language to complicate the Church's efforts to evangelize on its own terms. Utilizing a vast body of literary activity, Allies at Odds provides perspective on the Spanish cultural values that shaped the literary activity of native Andeans and that native Andeans had a part in shaping.


John Charles is assistant professor of Spanish at Tulane University.


"...an important contribution to the study of the colonial situation in the Andes and its formation of different social roles."



"In sum, Allies at Odds makes a valuable contribution to the literature on Andean colonial cultural history through a subtle and innovative analysis of extensive archival materials."


The Americas

". . . a well-written, engaging, and useful discussion of indigenous literacy and legal agency in the Habsburg Andes that rightly foregrounds indigenous participation in the Church and, as such, is a welcome contribution to colonial Andean historiography."


Colonial Latin American Historical Review

" Allies at Odds is an important study that adds valuable new insights to our understanding of the indigenous response to Latin American colonialism."


International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"Allies at Odds, John Charles' fascinating study of indigenous church assistants in Andean parishes, provides a look into the surprisingly understudied roles of these crucial intermediaries."


Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

" Allies at Odds will be a very useful study for both scholars and graduate students seeking to understand the intermediary world of indios ladinos."


Sixteenth Century Journal

6 x 9 in. 296 pages 18 halftones, 1 maps