Free and open to the public.
Cecilia Méndez, Department of History, UC, Santa Barbara
History students --and some mature historians— more often than not feel uneasy when asked about “theory.” Associating it with jargon, convoluted language, or abstractions beyond their reach, they prefer to stick to their stories, unperturbed by their theoretical underpinnings. On their part, theoretically minded historians can hold a not always veiled contempt for archive digging and “facts.” But there is a point in between.
In this talk, Professor Cecilia Méndez will tell the story of her long journey into the archives and highlands of the province of Huanta, department of Ayacucho, in the south-central Andes of Peru, to show how theoretical knowledge can spring from lived experiences and archives; how academic knowledge is more connected to nonacademic knowledge than often acknowledged --and how, ultimately, history is “interproduced”-- as she accounts for her travails writing a book in two different versions and languages.
Professor Méndez focuses her work on social and political history of the Andean region. Her research highlights the importance of late eighteenth-century, and nineteenth-century political developments in shaping modern conceptions nationhood, citizenship, and “race.”
Her book The Plebeian Republic: The Huanta Rebellion and the Making of the Peruvian State (2005) won the 2007 Howard Cline Prize for the best contribution to the study of Indians in Latin America, awarded by the Conference on Latin American History. Its Spanish revised version (2014) was considered the "best book" of history of the year in Peru. Her forthcoming book, Violencias Fundacionales, will be published in Lima.