Garry Sparks (Princeton University) will deliver the 2023–2024 Cushwa Center Lecture, “Five Hundred* Years of Mayanized Christianity An Ethnohistory of the Americas’ First Theology, the Theologia Indorum,” in 215–216 McKenna Hall at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 29, 2024.
As early 2024 marks the 500th anniversary of the entrance of Europeans into Guatemala and the introduction of Christianity there, this lecture will critically revisit Bartolomé de las Casas and his fellow Dominicans including Domingo de Vico and Vico’sTheologia Indorum, as well as their Indigenous interlocutors and the religious literature of the Highland Maya in the early decades of first contact.
About the speaker
Garry Sparks is associate professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. His research focuses on ethnohistorical understandings of theological production in the Americas, critical histories of Christian thought, religions of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, religion in Latin America, and theories of religion and culture.
He specifically attends to the periods of first contact between Native Mesoamericans and Iberian missionaries in the 16th-century as well as current religious movements like liberation theologies, “Indian” theology (teología india), Latin American Protestantism, and the revitalization of Indigenous traditionalism. Sparks is editor and translator of The Americas’ First Theologies: Early Sources of Post-Contact Indigenous Religion (Oxford, 2017) and author of Rewriting Maya Religion: Domingo de Vico, K’iche’ Maya Intellectuals, and the Theologia Indorum (University Press of Colorado, 2019).
Sparks’ research has received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Philosophical Society. He is currently working on a critical edition of the Library of Congress Kislak 1015 manuscript tentatively titled “Pastoral Fieldnotes: A Sixteenth-century Handbook from the Maya Highlands.” He is also coordinating critical translations into English and Spanish of the entire Theologia Indorum (“Theology for/of the Indians”) from Mayan-language manuscripts.
Image: Codex Yanhuitlán, folio 4v, depicting two mixtec nobles and Domingo de Vico. José María Lafragua Historical Library, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla.