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MacCormack explores cultural impact of Spanish conquest of Peru in new book

Author: Arts and Letters


Sabine G. MacCormack, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, has published a new book that challenges long-held assumptions about the cultural impact of the Spanish conquest of Peru.

Published by Princeton University Press, the book, titled “On the Wings of Time: Rome, the Incas, Spain and Peru,” is intended to provide a more sophisticated understanding of Latin America, both in a historical and contemporary context.

Among historians, it long has been taken for granted that the Spanish imposed their culture and religion on the indigenous populations during the 16th and 17th centuries. Using original sources, MacCormack asserts that civil society was born of the intellectual endeavors that commenced with the invasion itself, as the invaders sought to understand an array of cultures.

“The book proposes that European and Spanish culture was much less monolithic than is usually supposed,” MacCormack said. “The intellectual and cultural experience of engaging with the Mediterranean ancient world conditioned those Spanish who were interested in Andean cultures to think of cultural multiplicities.”

An internationally renowned scholar of ancient Rome and the Spanish empire, MacCormack specializes in late antiquity and colonial Latin America. Her scholarly publications include “The Shadows of Poetry: Vergil in the Mind of Augustine,” “Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru,” and “Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity.”

MacCormack, a past recipient of a $1.5 million Distinguished Achievement Award for scholars in the humanities from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was named a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2000 and of the American Philosophical Society in 1997, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999. Previously a professor of classical studies and history at the University of Michigan, MacCormack holds a joint appointment at Notre Dame in the departments of history and classics and is a faculty fellow in the University’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies. She earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Oxford University.

Contact: Sabine MacCormack, 574-631-9303,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla &Kelly Roberts at on November 15, 2006.