Responses from Latin America: Thoughts of a Contemporary Scholar and of the Seventeenth-Century Indigenous Historian Chimalpahin

This essay is a response to this forum's other two essays, which are by Taymiya R. Zaman and Manan Ahmed Asif. In it, I share in the excitement presently generated in the field of history by the effort to make South-South connections and yet also warn of the inherent limitations of such efforts. Subaltern studies famously failed to take hold among Latin Americanists, largely because the colonial context there was so profoundly different than in South Asia that it failed to illuminate history in the same ways. I assert that what Zaman and Asif attempt to do in their essays differs significantly from what subaltern studies scholars have done because they visit Latin America, literally and figuratively, in order to foster new lines of thinking in their writings about Asia. In response, I begin by considering what forays into Asia would likely do for the study of Mexico. Then, to test the forum contributors' modern assumptions about the usefulness of such efforts, I consider what Chimalpahin, the greatest of the colonial Nahua historians, revealed about his own interest in using the notion of Asia to think with.