JCB Fellow's Talk: Sean McEnroe

November 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

Sean McEnroe (Southern Oregon University), Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellow

"Translation, Genealogy and Indian Law in New England and Viceregal Peru"

Seventeenth-century writers across the Americas struggled to reconstruct a universal history of the human family and a genealogy of the world’s languages. These inquiries were not just an academic exercise. Arguments for and against the legal personhood of Indians hinged on the question of whether New World peoples were descended from shared Biblical and classical ancestors. The John Carter Brown Library holds some of the earliest editions of works by New England writers Roger Williams and John Eliot, and of Peruvian writers Diego Andrés Rocha, and Nicolás Matías del Campo. Taken together, these materials demonstrate the wide circulation of speculative works on indigenous history and language, and reveal a shared conviction that the defense of Indian communities in the colonial present required an explanation of their origins in the primordial past.


The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 p.m.