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Juan Carlos Mantilla (Columbia University)

Juan Carlos Mantilla

Juan Carlos Mantilla
Image Credit: Elvira Blanco

Fellow in Research Area 2: "Travelling Matters"

April – September 2021

Entangled Chronological Architectures: Crafting Early Modern World Histories with Pre-Columbian objects

The project explores the efforts of the Early Modern intellectual agents of the Spanish Americas to explain world history as a chronological architecture that entangles parts of the world never before thought of together, including the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, the Poles, and the Oceans. 

After the arrival of the Europeans in the Americas, major Western historiographical works, such as the Liber Chronicarum, which examined how the world was one in time, became limited regional histories that lacked any information about the enormous land masses and multitudes of people across the ocean. My project analyses the innovative ways of measuring, connecting, and narrating time in a way that would include the now broader world created in the Americas. I explore how an understanding of the world as a single—and fully integrated—historical entity required sustaining these novel ideas of Pre-Columbian non-written sources and traditions. The main challenge was to measure time in objects, such as fossils, mountains, altars, and monoliths, which appeared to be timeless.

Juan Carlos Mantilla is a PhD candidate from Ecuador at Columbia University’s Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, and at the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society. His work focuses on the cosmographical, mythographical, and historiographical writing practices of the Spanish Americas. His approach to the field brings together languages and sources uncommonly thought of together as part of the same research field: Biblical Antiquarianism in Quechua manuscripts, Inca Archaeology as Medieval Latin mythology, Ancient Greek Oceanography in Cuzco, or Orientalist Geography in Spanish Quito. His doctoral project is a history of the Early Modern Spanish Andean answers to the questions of when and where the world was one.