The Time of Liberty: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750–1850

Duke University Press
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Between 1750 and 1850 Spanish American politics underwent a dramatic cultural shift as monarchist colonies gave way to independent states based at least nominally on popular sovereignty and republican citizenship. In The Time of Liberty, Peter Guardino explores the participation of subalterns in this grand transformation. He focuses on Mexico, comparing local politics in two parts of Oaxaca: the mestizo, urban Oaxaca City and the rural villages of nearby Villa Alta, where the population was mostly indigenous. Guardino challenges traditional assumptions that poverty and isolation alienated rural peasants from the political process. He shows that peasants and other subalterns were conscious and complex actors in political and ideological struggles and that popular politics played an important role in national politics in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Guardino makes extensive use of archival materials, including judicial transcripts and newspaper accounts, to illuminate the dramatic contrasts between the local politics of the city and of the countryside, describing in detail how both sets of citizens spoke and acted politically. He contends that although it was the elites who initiated the national change to republicanism, the transition took root only when engaged by subalterns. He convincingly argues that various aspects of the new political paradigms found adherents among even some of the most isolated segments of society and that any subsequent failure of electoral politics was due to an absence of pluralism rather than a lack of widespread political participation.

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About the author

Peter Guardino is Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State: Guerrero, 1800–1857.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 6, 2005
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780822386568
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / Mexico
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In Smoldering Ashes Charles F. Walker interprets the end of Spanish domination in Peru and that country’s shaky transition to an autonomous republican state. Placing the indigenous population at the center of his analysis, Walker shows how the Indian peasants played a crucial and previously unacknowledged role in the battle against colonialism and in the political clashes of the early republican period. With its focus on Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, Smoldering Ashes highlights the promises and frustrations of a critical period whose long shadow remains cast on modern Peru.
Peru’s Indian majority and non-Indian elite were both opposed to Spanish rule, and both groups participated in uprisings during the late colonial period. But, at the same time, seething tensions between the two groups were evident, and non-Indians feared a mass uprising. As Walker shows, this internal conflict shaped the many struggles to come, including the Tupac Amaru uprising and other Indian-based rebellions, the long War of Independence, the caudillo civil wars, and the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. Smoldering Ashes not only reinterprets these conflicts but also examines the debates that took place—in the courts, in the press, in taverns, and even during public festivities—over the place of Indians in the republic. In clear and elegant prose, Walker explores why the fate of the indigenous population, despite its participation in decades of anticolonial battles, was little improved by republican rule, as Indians were denied citizenship in the new nation—an unhappy legacy with which Peru still grapples.
Informed by the notion of political culture and grounded in Walker’s archival research and knowledge of Peruvian and Latin American history, Smoldering Ashes will be essential reading for experts in Andean history, as well as scholars and students in the fields of nationalism, peasant and Native American studies, colonialism and postcolonialism, and state formation.


In The Art of Being In-between Yanna Yannakakis rethinks processes of cultural change and indigenous resistance and accommodation to colonial rule through a focus on the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, a rugged, mountainous, ethnically diverse, and overwhelmingly indigenous region of colonial Mexico. Her rich social and cultural history tells the story of the making of colonialism at the edge of empire through the eyes of native intermediary figures: indigenous governors clothed in Spanish silks, priests’ assistants, interpreters, economic middlemen, legal agents, landed nobility, and “Indian conquistadors.” Through political negotiation, cultural brokerage, and the exercise of violence, these fascinating intercultural figures redefined native leadership, sparked indigenous rebellions, and helped forge an ambivalent political culture that distinguished the hinterlands from the centers of Spanish empire.

Through interpretation of a wide array of historical sources—including descriptions of public rituals, accounts of indigenous rebellions, idolatry trials, legal petitions, court cases, land disputes, and indigenous pictorial histories—Yannakakis weaves together an elegant narrative that illuminates political and cultural struggles over the terms of local rule. As cultural brokers, native intermediaries at times reconciled conflicting interests, and at other times positioned themselves in opposing camps over the outcome of municipal elections, the provision of goods and labor, landholding, community ritual, the meaning of indigenous “custom” in relation to Spanish law, and representations of the past. In the process, they shaped an emergent “Indian” identity in tension with other forms of indigenous identity and a political order characterized by a persistent conflict between local autonomy and colonial control. This innovative study provides fresh insight into colonialism’s disparate cultures and the making of race, ethnicity, and the colonial state and legal system in Spanish America.

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