Irene Silverblatt

Irene Silverblatt

Professor Emerita of Cultural Anthropology

External address: 
500 W 111th St, Apt 2B, New York, NY 10025
Internal office address: 
Box 90091, Durham, NC 27708-0091
(919) 641-0319


Irene Silverblatt researches the cultural dimensions of power. She studies how “race-thinking” and gender relations were integral to the making of the modern world as well as how historical memory has shaped feelings of national belonging and demands for universal rights. These interests are both historical and contemporary, and have taken Silverblatt to the Inca Empire, the colonial Andes and contemporary Central/Eastern Europe. Her goal has been to explore the profound transformations in social identities, political sensibilities, and categories of “humanness” spawned by the “modern/civilized” world. With support from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Wenner Gren Foundations and Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, she has explored the Spanish Inquisition as a modern institution as well as the ways that gender construed power relations in Inca and Colonial Peru. These concerns about the cultural expressions of power, combined with an interest in the politics of memory and its relation to art, orient her next project. Research in central and eastern Europe explores the ways in which historical memory, particularly of the holocaust, is playing a role in the transformation of national ideologies as well as in the conceptualization of transnational, human rights. Her initial foray into this new arena was to edit Harvest of Blossoms: Poetry of a Life Cut Short. (with Helene Silverblatt). This volume is a collection of the poetry of our cousin, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, who died in an SS labor camp in 1942.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1981

Meerbaum-Eisinger, S. Harvest of Blossoms: Poems from a Life Cut Short (Collected Poems of Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger). Edited by I. Silverblatt and H. Silverblatt, Translated by J. Glenn et al., Northwestern University Press, 2008.

Silverblatt, I. Japanes translation of Moon, Sun, and Witches. Iwanami Shoten Publisher, 2001.

Silverblatt, I. Spanish translation of Moon, Sun, and Witches. Centro-Las Casas, 1990.

Silverblatt, I. Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru. Princeton University Press, 1987.

Silverblatt, I. “Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru. By Kathryn Burns (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. xv plus 247 pp.).” Journal of Social History, vol. 46, no. 2, Oxford University Press (OUP), 1 Dec. 2012, pp. 596–98. Crossref, doi:10.1093/jsh/shs049. Full Text

Silverblatt, Irene, et al. “Amancebados, hechiceros, y rebeldes. Chancay, siglo XVII.The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 73, no. 1, JSTOR, Feb. 1993, pp. 157–157. Crossref, doi:10.2307/2517659. Full Text

SILVERBLATT, I. R. E. N. E. “Anthropological History of Andean Polities. JOHN V. MURRA, NATHAN WACHTEL, and JACQUES REVEL, eds.” American Ethnologist, vol. 16, no. 2, Wiley, May 1989, pp. 400–01. Crossref, doi:10.1525/ae.1989.16.2.02a00280. Full Text

SILVERBLATT, I. R. E. N. E. “Native lords of Quito in the age of the incas: The political economy of north Andean chiefdoms. FRANK SALOMON.” American Ethnologist, vol. 15, no. 3, Wiley, Aug. 1988, pp. 585–86. Crossref, doi:10.1525/ae.1988.15.3.02a00260. Full Text

Silverblatt, I. “Acllacuna.” Encyclopedia of the Incas, edited by G. Urton and A. von Hagen, Rowan and Littlefield, 2015.

Silverblatt, I. “Women.” Encyclopedia of the Incas, edited by G. Urton and A. V. Hagen, Rowman and Littlefield, 2015.

Silverblatt, I. “Haunting the Modern Andean State: Colonial Legacies of Race and Civilization.” Off-Centered States: Political Formation and Deformation in the Andes, edited by C. Krupa and D. Nugent, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Silverblatt, I. “Prologo.” No Se Puede Descolonizar Sin Despatriarcalizar: Teoria y Propuesta de La Despatriarcalizacion, by Maria Galindo, Mujeres Creando, 2013.

Silverblatt, I. “Forward.” Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America, edited by M. O. Hara and A. Fisher, Duke University Press, 2009.

Silverblatt, I. “Native Andeans Observe Spanish Colonials.” Europe Observed, edited by Clement Hawes and KumKum Chaterjee, Bucknell University Press, 2008.

Silverblatt, I. “The Black Legend and Global Conspiracies: The Spanish Inquisition, Race-Thinking and the Emerging Modern World.” Rereading the Black Legend, edited by M. Greer and W. Mignolo, University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Silverblatt, I. “Modern Inquisitions.” Empires: Thinking Colonial Studies Beyond Europe, edited by A. Stoler and C. McGranahan, School of American Research, 2007, pp. 295–331.

Silverblatt, I. “Religion and Race in the Emerging Modern World: Indians, Incas, and Conspiracy Stories in Colonial Peru.” Practicing Catholic: Ritual, Body, and Contestation in Catholic Faith, edited by B. Morrill et al., Palgrave/MacMillan, 2006.

Silverblatt, I. “Religion and Race in the Emerging Modern World: Indians, Incas, and Conspiracy Stories in Colonial Peru.” Practicing Catholic: Ritual, Body, and Contestation in Catholic Faith, edited by B. T. Morrill et al., Palgrave/MacMillian, 2006.


Silverblatt, I. “Stained Blood in the Old World and the New: New Christians and the Racial Categories of the Colonial-Modern World.” Critical Research on Religion, edited by A. E. Glauz-Todrank, vol. 2, 2014.

Silverblatt, I. “Heresies and colonial geopolitics.” Romanic Review, vol. 103, no. 1–2, Jan. 2012, pp. 65–80.

Silverblatt, I. “Chasteté et pureté des liens sociaux dans le Pérou du XVIIe siècle.” Cahiers Du Genre, vol. 50, no. 1, Dec. 2011, pp. 17–40. Scopus, doi:10.3917/cdge.050.0017. Full Text

Silverblatt, Irene. “Colonial Peru and the Inquisition: Race-Thinking, Torture, and the Making of the Modern World.” Transforming Anthropology, vol. 19, no. 2, Wiley, Oct. 2011, pp. 132–38. Crossref, doi:10.1111/j.1548-7466.2011.01127.x. Full Text

Silverblatt, I. “Colonial conspiracies.” Ethnohistory, vol. 53, no. 2, Mar. 2006, pp. 259–80. Scopus, doi:10.1215/00141801-53-2-259. Full Text

Silverblatt, I. “New Christians and new world fears in seventeenth-century Peru.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 42, no. 3, Jan. 2000, pp. 524–46. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0010417500002929. Full Text

Silverblatt, I. “The secret history of gender: Women, men, and power in late Colonial Mexico.Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 41, no. 2, CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, Apr. 1999, pp. 406–406.

Silverblatt, I. “Honor, Sex, and Civilizing in the Making of Seventeenth Century Peru.” Journal of the Steward Anthropological Society, vol. 25, no. 1&2, 1997, pp. 181–98.

Silverblatt, Irene. “Lessons of Gender and Ethnohistory in Mesoamerica.” Ethnohistory, vol. 42, no. 4, JSTOR, 1995, pp. 639–639. Crossref, doi:10.2307/483149. Full Text


Glauz-Todrank, A. E., et al. “Jewish identification and critical theory: The political significance of conceptual categories.” Critical Research on Religion, vol. 2, no. 2, 2014, pp. 165–94. Scopus, doi:10.1177/2050303214535009. Full Text

Silverblatt, I. “Threads Speak.” Eccentric Archive, 2012.