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From the Letters to the Editor column of the October 2008 issue of Perspectives on History

Letters to the Editor: Erring on Latin America

John F. Schwaller, October 2008

Editor's Note: Perspectives on History welcomes letters to the editor on issues discussed in its pages or which are relevant to the profession. Letters should ideally be brief and should be sent to Letters to the Editor (or mailed to Letters to the Editor, Perspectives on History, AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003-3889) along with full contact information. Letters selected for publication may be edited for style, length, and content. Publication of letters does not signify endorsement by the AHA of the views expressed by the authors, who alone are responsible for ensuring accuracy of the letters' contents. Institutional affiliations are provided only for identification purposes.

To the Editor:

As strongly as I support efforts to use a comparative approach in the teaching of history, I was frankly dismayed at the blatant errors that appeared in Richard Sigwalt’s essay, “Teaching Latin America: A Comparative Approach” in the April 2008 issue of Perspectives on History. It did a real disservice since serious historians will question the validity of the approach because the article itself contained such egregious errors. As a specialist in early Latin America, I particularly noted two serious misspellings: Nauhuatl for Nahuatl, and Guadeloupe (a French spelling usually used to refer to an island in the Caribbean) rather than Guadalupe. Moreover, it is absolutely incorrect to declare that “Courts of the Inquisition were set in motion to ‘extirpate idolatry’. . . .” All of the literature is clear that the Indians of the Americas were exempt from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. Rather, the extirpation was conducted by agents of the local bishop.

—John F. Schwaller
SUNY-Potsdam

Editor’s Note: We regret the spelling errors, which we overlooked. They have been corrected in the online version of Richard Sigwalt’s essay.

Richard Sigwalt writes:

I wish to thank Dr. Schwaller for pointing out the spelling errors and even more for the information about the inquisition in Peru and thus about the theory and structure of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas. I gratefully stand corrected.