Charles Walker on the Life and Times of an Andean Witness to the Age of Revolutions

Welcome to the 19th episode of the Global History Podcast. Today, we’d like to welcome Charles Walker, Professor of History and former Director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at the University of California, Davis. He held the MacArthur Foundation Endowed Chair in International Human Rights from 2015 to 2020. Professor Walker has published widely on Latin American social, cultural, and intellectual history, with a focus on the Andean region.

He is the co-editor of The Lima Reader (Duke University Press, 2017) and co-editor and co-translator of In Search of an Inca: Identity and Utopia in the Andes (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He is the author of The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Harvard University Press, 2014), Diálogos con el Perú: Ensayos de Historia (Fondo Editorial del Pedagógico San Marcos, 2009), Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima Peru and its Long Aftermath (Duke University Press, 2008), and Smoldering Ashes: Cuzco and the Creation of Republican Peru, 1780-1840 (Duke University Press, 1999). The book under discussion today, Witness to the Age of Revolution: The Odyssey of Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, was published in 2020 by Oxford University Press. A part of Oxford University Press’s ‘Graphic History Series’, the book combines historical commentary by Walker with illustrations by Liz Clarke. The book is the winner of an Association of American Publishers 2021 Prose Award in the category nonfiction graphic novels. Witness to the Age of Revolution is now available in Spanish translation under the title, La Odisea De Juan Bautista Túpac Amaru. Un Testigo De La Era De Las Revoluciones.

In September of 2020, I spoke with Professor Walker about his new book. We spoke about Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, the half-brother of the famous Andean revolutionary Tupac Amaru II, and how his life and experiences provide a valuable lens through which to view the Tupac Amaru Rebellion and the Global Age of Revolutions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Listen on to find out more.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments about this episode, or would like to pitch us an idea for a new episode, feel free to email us at, or send us a message on our website’s contact formfacebooktwitter, or instagram. If you would like to consult further resources on global history, feel free to visit our Further Resources page.

IMAGE 1: “Don Juan Tupacamaro” (fourth from top) registered as living on San Simón in 1818. The cross indicates that he had confessed and taken communion in Lent. Archivo Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Padrones Parroquiales. Año 1818, Ceuta. Caption Credit: Charles Walker.

IMAGE 2: “Juan Tupamaro” signature from undated testimony about domestic abuse that he witnessed. The signature indicates his literacy. The document gives his age as thirty-eight, impossible as he reached Ceuta in his forties. Archivo General de Ceuta, fondo Carlos Posac Mon, legajo 30, fotocopia de documento manuscrito de procedencia desconocida. Caption Credit: Charles Walker.

IMAGE 3: 1819, “Don Juan Tupacamaro” and “Friar Marcos Martel” (4th and 5th from bottom right) registered as living together on San Simón, 1819. Archivo Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Padrones Parroquiales. Año 1819, Ceuta. Caption Credit: Charles Walker.

IMAGE 4 and Cover Image: Illustration by Luis Macaya, in Pedro Blomberg, “Las cadenas del Inca” (The Inca’s Chains), La Nación (Buenos Aires), March 23, 1930. Caption Credit: Charles Walker.

IMAGE 5: Plaque Honoring Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, Cuzco Municipality, 1973. Caption Credit: Charles Walker.

IMAGE 6: Cover, Witness to the Age of Revolution. Copyright Oxford University Press.

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