Reinventing the inca past: The Kingdom of Quito, Atahualpa and the creation of ecuadorian national identity

Nicola Foote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article examines the efforts of historians and archeologists to rethink the role of pre-Columbian indigenous civilizations in the Ecuadorian past in the context of the ambiguity over the Inca legacy generated by rising nationalist tensions with Peru. The article focuses on the debate over the Kingdom of Quito, argued by the Jesuit Priest Juan de Velasco in his classic 18th-century text to have been a culturally advanced and technologically sophisticated civilization that occupied the territory north of Quito for centuries prior to the arrival of the Inca, and to have ferociously resisted their invasion. The idea of the Kingdom of Quito formed a key part of nationalist mythology during the 19th century, but came under scientific attack in the early 20th century as archeological methods advanced. This challenge to the foundational legend came at the very moment that the conflict with Peru over the Amazonian border made it more politically important than ever to trace resistance to Peruvian encroachment back through time. This article traces the political and intellectual dynamics of the scholarly debate, examining the racial and nationalist concerns that lay behind state interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-130
Number of pages22
JournalLatin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Atahualpa
  • Border conflict
  • History and mythology
  • Indigeneity
  • Intellectual production
  • National identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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