August 27, 2014 - 4:00pm

Jeremy Mumford, Brown University. "Inka Royal Incest."

This informal talk will take place in the MacMillan Reading Room, with display of important books. The talk will end at 5 p.m.

From the moment they invaded Peru, Spanish conquerors were both fascinated and attracted by tales of their predecessors, the Inka kings, whom they imagined as opulent, exotic, noble and transgressive. Spaniards recorded that in each generation brothers and sisters married each other to keep their divine bloodline pure. This claim has received surprisingly little attention from historians. The textual evidence is hard to interpret and might be a projection of Spaniards’ interests and preconceptions.

Was Inka sibling marriage a fiction, an ideal, an invented tradition, or a straightforward practice resembling royal marriages in Ptolemaic Egypt and pre-Christian Hawaii? And what would have been its biological consequences? In this talk I examine the claims and judgments of early modern Spanish authors and of scholars today, and I try to reconstruct ideas of history and sexuality among the Inka elite, on the eve and aftermath of the Spanish invasion.