Bookbeat: August 1999

Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru  Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru

by Katherine Burns, Department of History
(Duke University Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

In Colonial Habits Kathryn Burns transforms our view of nuns as marginal recluses, making them central actors on the colonial stage. Beginning with the 1558 founding of South America's first convent, Burns shows that nuns in Cuzco played a vital part in subjugating Incas, creating a creole elite, and reproducing an Andean colonial order in which economic and spiritual interests were inextricably fused.

Based on unprecedented archival research, Colonial Habits demonstrates how nuns became leading guarantors of their city's social order by making loans, managing property, containing "unruly" women, and raising girls....By the nineteenth century, the nuns had retreated from their previous roles, marginalized in the construction of a new republican order.

- Publisher


...Santa Clara [Cuzco, Peru's first nunnery] and its earliest entrants were vital to the production and reproduction of Spanish hegemony in Cuzco, helping remake the former capital of the Incas into a center of Spanish colonialism. For it was not enough for Spanish men to seize the Inca heartland. To gain firm control over the Andes, these would-be lords had to find the means to reproduce themselves—their lineages, authority, culture. Cloistering their mestiza daughters at a particularly sensitive moment in the consolidation of Spanish rule gave the leading Spaniards of Cuzco the means to do this, and thus stake a permanent claim to power in the Andes.

Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic ApproachPlant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach

Walter S. Judd (Botany), Christopher S. Campbell, Elizabeth A. Kellogg, Peter F. Stevens
(Sinauer Associates, Inc., Publishers, 1999)
Available from Amazon

Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach is an introductory text that incorporates phylogenetic principles and methods throughout—from the careful explanation of phylogenetic methods and principles in the initial two chapters to the taxonomic survey of vascular plant families in the last two chapters. ...A chapter on the history of plant classification puts current systematic methods in a historical context. Issues relating to variation in plant populations and species, including discussion of speciation, species concepts, polyploidy, hybridization, breeding systems, and introgression are carefully considered. Finally, botanical nomenclature and field and herbarium methods are discussed in two appendices. The text is copiously illustrated, using in large part the informative analytical drawings developed as part of the Generic Flora of the Southeastern United States project. The text is accompanied by a CD-ROM, containing over 600 color photos illustrating the variability of the vascular plant families covered in the text. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach is appropriate for any course devoted to the systematics of angiosperms or vascular plants and, secondarily, for local flora courses. The text assumes no prerequisites other than introductory botany or biology.

- Publisher

Plato's Reception of ParmenidesPlato's Reception of Parmenides

John A. Palmer, Department of Philosophy
(Oxford University Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

John Palmer presents a new and original account of Plato's uses and understanding of his most important Presocratic predecessor, Parmenides. Adopting an innovative approach to the appraisal of intellectual influence, Palmer first explores the Eleatic underpinnings of central elements in Plato's middle-period epistemology and metaphysics. He then shows how in the later dialogues Plato confronts various sophistic appropriations of Parmenides while simultaneously developing his own deepened understanding....By tracing connections among the uses of Parmenides over the course of several dialogues, Palmer both demonstrates his fundamental importance to the development of Plato's thought and furthers understanding of central problems in Plato's own philosophy.

(excerpt from introduction)
...we must try to understand Parmenides as Plato did if we are to be in any position to speak meaningfully about Parmenides' influence on Plato. This rather basic principle leads to quite complex results in application. For it involves us in the often difficult process of inferring Plato's understanding of Parmenides from his actual use of him. Plato nowhere simply sets out his view of Parmenides. We are therefore always forced to piece together his interpretation from his integrated use of Parmenides at various periods, with all the difficulties this involves. These difficulties are multiplied by the fact that Plato is, as we shall see, also concerned with contemporary or near-contemporary uses of Parmenides that are in conflict with his own.

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