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Unit information: Aztecs, Incas and Evangelisers in 2015/16

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Unit name Aztecs, Incas and Evangelisers
Unit code HIST20036
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Cervantes
Open unit status Not open



Special Field Project

School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

It used to be believed that the spread of Christianity in Spanish America involved a straightforward imposition of a ‘superior’ type of world religion upon the various ‘disjointed’ beliefs of indigenous societies. Instead, recent research has been focusing on the more informal and haphazard interactions between the different social groups that were brought into contact, not only through conquest and domination, but also through trade and miscegenation. What has emerged is a much more complex and creative process of gradual adaptation where, despite evidence of persistent official opposition, many elements of the indigenous religious systems were willingly incorporated into the Christian rituals and vice versa. The unit aims to draw on recent work in this area to examine the different theories that have been advanced to explain the spread of Christianity in order to revisit a number of familiar themes in European history from a fresh perspective.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed 1. a wider historical knowledge of the process of evangelisation in 16th- and 17th-century Spanish America. 2. a deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis; 3. the ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context; 4. the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change; 5. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points; 6. the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion; 7. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint; 8. the acquisition of key writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar Access to tutorial advice with unit tutor in consultation hours.

Assessment Information

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

Reading and References

Nicholas Griffiths, Sacred Dialogues: Christianity and Native Religions in the Colonial Americas 1492-1700 (2007). Nicholas Griffiths and Fernando Cervantes (eds), Spiritual Encounters: Interactions between Christianity and Native Religions in Colonial America (1999). Fernando Cervantes and Andrew Redden (eds), Angels, Demons and the New World (2013). Louise Burkhart, The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (1989). Sabine MacCormack, Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru (1991).