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Journal Article

The Founding Abyss of Colonial History: Or "The Origin and Principle of the Name of Peru"

Mark Thurner
History and Theory
Vol. 48, No. 1 (Feb., 2009), pp. 44-62
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25478813
Page Count: 19
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The Founding Abyss of Colonial History: Or "The Origin and Principle of the Name of Peru"
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Abstract

The name of "Peru" and the entities and beings it names first appeared "in an abyss of history" on "the edge of the world" in the early 1500s. In this essay I ask that hermeneutical truths or meanings the strange event that made the name of Peru both famous and historical holds for-and withholds from-any understanding of the meaning of colonial history. By way of a reading of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's rendering, in Los Comentarios Reales de los Incas (1609) of "the origin and principle of the name of Peru," I suggest that Peru's name is itself an inaugural event that marks the founding void or abyss of colonial and postcolonial history, which is to say, of modern global history. This événemential void is not unoccupied, however. It is inhabited by another founding, mythopoetic figure of history: "the barbarian" whose speech is registered in the historian's text.

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