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Latin America perspective is a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station w s i u FM. Here now is Dr. Gardner. Though it may sound paradoxical dead cultures have a way of growing on us. Sometimes it is the growth of fuzzy romanticism that makes much of little. The kind of unwarranted and generous sentiments that give a dead civilization the benefit of the doubt and then on other occasions the continuing revelations of ethnology and archaeology force us to assess and re-assess dead cultures on the basis of widening awareness of them. One of the cultures that has drawn its full share of the incurable romantic and industrious scientists is that of the Incas. Some have been
drawn to the Incas by virtue of the political and economic victory of the natives over harsh terrain. Others have been drawn to the Incas by the difficult to comprehend collapse almost like a house of cards of their authority. Still others are drawn to the Incas by virtue of the continuing existence of six to seven million Indians whose language and much else stamp them as the descendants of the people whom the Spaniards met and defeated in 16th century years in volumes fat and thin wordy and pictorial. The Incas have been presented to successive generations of readers. Easily one of the most interesting of such works is that by the late Alfred make troll it is simply titled The History of the Incas and it is published by Pantheon a division of Random House initially published in French.
The present English edition is the same concise provocative study richly illustrated. If the mineral resources of the Incas gave rise to the legend of Eldorado their institutions as described by the Spaniards started another legend that of a utopia one which was a perfect and ideal socialist state one created before that word was coined. It was during the eighteenth century. Above all of that philosophers novelists and dramatists delighted in presenting the picture of a Peruvian empire whose rulers full of virtue secured the happiness of their simple people by their wise laws. Like so many others before make troll he tries to describe the strange Inca civilization to which 20 gave a leading place in his list of 21 original
civilizations. The great development of ethnology allows us today to re-examine the familiar evidence in a new light. In the last 20 years archaeology has upset all our ideas about the origin and evolution of Peruvian cultures. Furthermore it has too often been forgotten that the descendants of the Incas are still to be found in considerable numbers a population of six or seven million make up the biggest and most compact indigenous group in the Americas. Although over four centuries their customs beliefs and institutions have greatly changed. It is still possible to fill the gaps in the written records from the evidence still discernible in the vestiges of the Ancient Order. Study of administrative records is often more fruitful than an elaborate examination of the classic works on the Inca empire progress and social anthropology
by turning us away from our ethno centricity has allowed a better interpretation of customs and traditions that hitherto have been shown to us only through Western eyes. Such research has in no way decreased the admiration the Inca empire merits. On the contrary it is brought to light the true originality of its institutions and the difficulties it overcame in establishing such a vast and prosperous state. The word Inca as currently used is ambiguous and its meaning has been altered from the original one chief. The sovereign of Peru was par excellence. THE INCA. A title also given to members of his family and branches related to it. The term was even extended to include the allied groups of people from whom the
Imperial civil servants were recruited. The word in then could be translated as sovereign or nobleman. Today the word both as noun and adjective is used for everything having to do with the history or the civilization of the Inca dynasty. It is particularly applied to the people over whom the Inca reigned one might in all logic apply equally well to the modern Indians of the Andean region of Ecuador Peru and Bolivia who to a great extent are the direct heirs of the civilization that flourished under the rulers bearing that name. Most of the chroniclers agree as to the names and order of succession of the thirteen emperors of the Inca dynasty. At first sight the precision with which their reigns are numbered and the stories they tell us inspire confidence. We draw the conclusion that here we have a strong historical
tradition handing down the story intact over several centuries. But on closer examination this favorable impression is found to be illusory. Behind a superabundance of often in significant detail the big historical events grow blurred and in spite of their apparent exactitude are found to amount to very little. It is naturally in the most distant periods. But the line dividing myth from history is most difficult to trace. If on the whole the chroniclers are greedy in their account of events these are not always attributed to the same INCA. It is not uncommon for some events to have a double use as it were and to be told in almost the same manner about two separate rains. The dynastic lists do not always agree and father son and grandson are sometimes mistaken for one another. The myth of the great Inca socialist
state springs from a merely cursory acquaintance with US institutions the property laws particularly as well as the subject's duties to the emperor have been interpreted in terms of European ideas which apply only very imperfectly to a civilization still in many respects our cake despite its complexity and refinement. The Inca economic and social system as described by Gonzales a deal of a guy in his royal commentaries and by those writers whom he inspired had a fine and admirable simplicity. The sovereigns of old Peru wanted justice and prosperity to spread through the land. And as soon as a province was conquered it was quote divided into three parts. The first father son as UN the second for the king and the third for the people. One of the Incas most
effective methods of consolidating his empire was the movement of population such displacements were frequent and on a vast scale. If the inhabitants of a recently conquered region seemed rebellious or gave some cause for alarm the Inca would establish a colony of known loyal subjects among them and in some instances a whole troublesome population would be deported to some part of the Empire where the Incas rule was undisputed. The Exiles whether rebels or loyal subjects left the homes they would never see again taking their household goods with them and terrible punishment was meted out to those who succumbed to the temptation of returning home. The interstate has been so much extolled in the past that it's not surprising that a reaction in the opposite direction has taken place. If at one time it was the fashion to praise an administration powerful enough to introduce standard
practices everywhere today we tend to emphasize local differences and the persistence of regional customs and social structures into despotism seems more theoretical than real. And now the tendency is to doubt the efficacy of its control over the population. The truth no doubt lies somewhere between these two extremes. Parallel to the hierarchy of government there existed an ecclesiastical establishment over which the Incas had secured control of a priest rank depended on the temple he served and the functions he fulfilled there in the religious hierarchy the primacy belonged to the High Priest of The Sun the Oma always a near relative of the Inca his brother or uncle. He led an austere life subject to many to Buddhas within the
precincts of the temple of the sun. Think a civilization developed at a time when towns were growing up all over the Andean region and the Inca contribution to urban tradition was one of its greatest titles to glory the Incas were great builders of towns. They made of course coal a real metropolis that each Emperor at least from a touch of onward delighted in embellishing taking advantage of the resources and manpower and raw materials that his conquest brought him in the conquered provinces. They moved some of the population into the towns they were creating. Thus foreshadowing a policy later adopted by Spanish Viceroys. The Spanish conquest of the Inca empire and the colonial rule that ensued and tales for the Indians the destruction of their goods the loss of their most sacred traditions their utterly ruthless
exploitation and slavery. And very often torture and massacre it is the fashion in Spain to jeer at the Black legend invented by the heretics to blast the noble Iberians but the detractors of Spanish colonialism are less severe in their condemnation than many of the cast Judeans themselves who witness so much horror and oppression. It is no use saying that is only the followers of Bartolomeo de las Casas who are concerned that enunciations made by rough soldiers and by lawyers of the atrocities they saw are in the honor of Spain. Even though the crown tried to protect the Indians rights one cannot absolve a regime because the intentions and only the intentions of its leaders were often just and generous. It was of course difficult we must admit. For the king and his representatives on one side of the ocean
to get themselves obeyed on the opposite side. We have then in this the work of Alfred and the troll in title the history of the Incas. A brief a well illustrated and exceedingly readable statement of the culture of the South American Indians that has long attracted the attention of man and which on the basis of ethnological an archaeological understanding will undoubtedly attract more attention tomorrow. This book is published by Pantheon of Random House. This was another programme in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program when Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station WFIU FM and are made available to
this station by the national educational radio network.
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 33 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3544. This prog.: The History of the Incas
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-33 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:48
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 33 of 38,” 1969-04-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2024,
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APA: Latin American perspectives II; Episode 33 of 38. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from