WMU News

Catherine Julien earns coveted Guggenheim Fellowship

May 15, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- A Western Michigan University faculty member has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to complete a book on events leading up to the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire during the late16th century.

Dr. Catherine Julien, associate professor of history, is one of 184 Guggenheim Fellows appointed for 2003 from among more than 3,200 artists, scholars and scientists who were considered for the award. Decisions are based on recommendations from hundreds of expert advisors and are approved by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation's Board of Trustees.

Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded based on past achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The fellowships are grants, this year totaling $6,750,000, to selected individuals to help provide them with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. The fellowships represent some of the most competitive awards made in the arts and humanities. Past winners include Joyce Carol Oates, Ansel Adams, Henry Kissinger, Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov and Langston Hughes.

Julien will use her fellowship to study the writings of Titu Cusi Yupanqui, the son of Manco Inca, who became the ally of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro when Pizarro first arrived in the Inca capital in 1533. The Inca empire was the largest pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas, and included some 13 million people and stretched from what is now Ecuador to Chile. Titu Cusi wrote about the breakdown of the partnership between the two cultures and the eventual defeat of the Incas by the Spaniards in 1572. At the time Titu Cusi wrote his history in 1570, he was still the autonomous ruler of a large province in the tropical forest east of Cuzco in southern Peru. His writings are unique according to Julien because "he mastered the skills of an insider, but wrote from the outside."

A WMU faculty member since 1996, Julien is the author of "Reading Inca History," a book examining Inca historical tradition as recorded by the Spaniards during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was awarded the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize for best book-length work in the field of ethnohistory in 2000, and the Modern Language Association's Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for being the outstanding book of essays in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures.

Julien earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of California-Berkeley in 1971, 1975 and 1978, respectively. Prior to joining the WMU faculty, she taught at Berkeley, Germany's University of Bonn and California State University. She also served as a lecturer and international study tour leader for the Smithsonian's American Museum of Natural History and the California Alumni Association, and she worked as director of museum programs for the Courthouse Museum in Merced, Calif.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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