The Lettered Mountain

The Lettered Mountain: A Peruvian Village’s Way with Writing
Frank Salomon and Mercedes Niño-Murcia
2012, Duke University Press
368 pages

THIS IS the second major work on Andean literacy to hit the shelves this year (see Beyond the Lettered City: Indigenous Literacies in the Andes by Joanne Rappaport and Tom Cummins) revealing how prominent the historical ethnography of writing is becoming in the age of mass literacy and the internet. In The Lettered Mountain, Frank Salomon and Mercedes Niño-Murcia explore the evolution of alphabetic literacy in Andean villages, providing a valuable historical overview of this theme from Inka times to the present. Their study is centred on Tupicocha in the province of Huarochirí, an important place in the history of Peruvian letters that was the home to an important book in Quechua explaining the area’s ancient cosmology. Interest in the evolution and ethnography of literacy in Andean society reveals the new prominence of effors to reevaluate indigenous history in Latin America more generally and the rise of indigenous intellectuals themselves. It is further evidence of the complex interplay between socio-political conditions and epistemology and how “Western” visions of modernity are now under siege the world over. – GO’T