For his senior thesis (“Hiding the Heresy in Plain Sight: Adaptability, Hybridity & Identity in Seventeenth Century Peru”) history major Daniel Grabell examined the life of Guaman Poma, an Incan noble who in the early 1600s authored an unusual book, titled El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (later translated as “Letter to a King”). Written in three languages (two Andean tongues and Spanish) and featuring nearly 400 drawings, Poma’s work chronicled the history of the Incan Empire and the injustices of the Spanish Conquest.
Grabell, who also graduated with a concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies and sang with the a cappella group the Mainliners during his time on campus, is now working as a tax analyst for Comcast in Philadelphia and plans to eventually attend either law or business school. “Although my senior thesis does not necessarily directly correlate to my immediate future in finance,” he says, “the overall process of researching, analyzing, and writing will help me when I [continue my education] in the near future.”
How did your thesis advisor help you develop your topic, conduct your research, and/or interpret your results?
For my senior thesis, I continued to work under the direction of Professor James Krippner. I really enjoyed working with Professor Krippner because we share an enthusiasm for the scholarly analysis of visual sources (e.g., illustrations, architecture, religious shrines, and cultural artifacts.) As I crafted this project throughout both my junior and senior years at Haverford, Professor Krippner’s vast knowledge of Latin America and willingness to help refine my argument proved invaluable.
What is your biggest takeaway from the project?
This culminating project was extremely rewarding for several reasons. During the writing process, I began to see several overlapping themes between my personal scholarship and courses that I previously took at Haverford. The senior thesis, therefore serves as a meaningful reflection on the totality of [the] academic experience. I learned that writing is a process—that distancing oneself from an essay after writing allows [you] to then edit in a refreshed mindset.
How or why could your thesis research help other academics, if at all?
In part, my thesis questions the argument of a well-known scholar in the field, and thus, proposes a new analysis, which may open the chronicle to wider interpretation. The professors at Haverford have taught me to read against the secondary literature, and to be confident in advancing my own assertions when they are appropriate and grounded in evidence.
Image is a self-portrait of Pomo on his way to Lima from his book. Credit: GKS 2232 4to, The Royal Library – Copenhagen
“What They Learned” is a blog series exploring the thesis work of members of the Class of 2014.