Pastoral Quechua explores the story of how the Spanish priests and missionaries of the Catholic church in post-conquest Peru systematically attempted to “incarnate” Christianity in Quechua, a large family of languages and dialects spoken by the dense Andes populations once united under the Inca empire. By codifying (and imposing) a single written standard, based on a variety of Quechua spoken in the former Inca capital of Cuzco, and through their translations of devotional, catechetical, and liturgical texts for everyday use in parishes, the missionary translators were on the front lines of Spanish colonialism in the Andes.
The Christian pastoral texts in Quechua are important witnesses to colonial interactions and power relations. Durston examines the broad historical contexts of Christian writing in Quechua; the role that Andean religious images and motifs were given by the Spanish translators in creating a syncretic Christian-Andean iconography of God, Christ, and Mary; the colonial linguistic ideologies and policies in play; and the mechanisms of control of the subjugated population that can be found in the performance practices of Christian liturgy, the organization of the texts, and even in certain aspects of grammar.
"Pastoral Quechua is an entryway into the world of colonial Quechua culture through language, showing how Spanish missionaries did not merely translate Christianity into the Inka language, but built up new and complex syntheses of inka and Spanish worlds. A foundational work, it opens up new and untouched ways of understanding the impact of European colonialism in the Americas, making a singular contribution to colonial history, to historical linguistics, and to the anthropology of colonialism.” —Bruce Mannheim, University of Michigan, author of The Language of the Inka since the European Invasion
“Pastoral Quechua is a wonderful volume that will be of interest to a broad range of scholars including historians, linguists, anthropologists, as well as scholars in all fields interested in Peru. The study focuses on the practice of translation, as the author states, but it is much more than that. It is a meticulously researched work that provides careful linguistic analysis conceptualized within an historical study of Catholic evangelization in colonial Peru.” —Thomas B. F. Cummins, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art, Harvard University