Irene Silverblatt's research centers on gender, race, and other cultural dimensions of power relations in the Peruvian Andes. Her first book, Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (Princeton University Press, 1987), looked at how two very different empires—the indigenous Inca and the foreign Spanish—consolidated their respective rules over Andean peoples. Her many articles have explored such historic subjects as what it meant to be Indian in the seventeenth-century Andes and the role family values played in Spain’s efforts to “civilize” the native inhabitants of Peru.
Silverblatt will continue her probe into the cultural transformations at the heart of colonial Peru during her year at Radcliffe. The vision of political order shaping seventeenth-century Spanish colonialism combined religious orthodoxy and an emerging nationalist spirit with racialized categories of human beings. Using Inquisition records, Silverblatt will explore the cultural dynamics underlying Spain’s tumultuous efforts to create the novel categories—“Indian,” “Spanish,” “Black”—at the core of its colonial enterprise.
An associate professor of anthropology at Duke University, Silverblatt earned her PhD at the University of Michigan. Her awards include a Rockefeller Foundation resident fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a grant from the Social Science Research Council.