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.
Yanna Yannakakis is Assistant Professor of History at Emory University.
The book examines the historical record of these contacts, distilling from those processes patterns of interaction, different peoples’ perspectives, and the ways these encounters tended to subvert the commonly accepted assumptions about differences between peoples in terms of race, ethnicity, nationhood, or empire. This new edition has been updated to employ current scholarship and address recent developments, as well as increasing the treatment of indigenous agency, including the major role played by Polynesians in the spread of Christianity in Oceania. The final chapter has been updated to reflect the refugee crisis and the evolving political situation in Europe concerning its immigrant population.
Supported by engaging discussion questions and enlivened with the voices and views of those who were and remain directly engaged in the process of cross-cultural exchange, this highly accessible volume remains a valuable resource for all students of world history.
The changes to Maya culture imposed by Franciscan friars and Spanish lords worked to unravel the networks of personal ties that had empowered the highest Maya lords, and political power devolved to second-tier Maya lords. By 1600 Spanish rule had fragmented what was left of the interpersonal networks, draining power from the indigenous political structure.
Building on Quezada’s seminal 1993 study, Maya Lords and Lordship offers a fundamentally new vision of Maya political power, challenging the established views of anthropologists and ethnohistorians. Grounded in archival sources as well as historical and ethnographic literature, Quezada’s insights and conclusions will influence studies of the Postclassic and sixteenth-century Maya periods.
Kathryn Burns argues that the archive itself must be historicized. Using the case of colonial Cuzco, she examines the practices that shaped document-making. Notaries were businessmen, selling clients a product that conformed to local “custom” as well as Spanish templates. Clients, for their part, were knowledgeable consumers, with strategies of their own for getting what they wanted. In this inside story of the early modern archive, Burns offers a wealth of possibilities for seeing sources in fresh perspective.
O’Hara focuses on interactions between church authorities and parishioners from the late-colonial era into the early-national period, first in Mexico City and later in the surrounding countryside. Paying particular attention to disputes regarding caste status, the category of “Indian,” and the ownership of property, he demonstrates that religious collectivities from neighborhood parishes to informal devotions served as complex but effective means of political organization for plebeians and peasants. At the same time, longstanding religious practices and ideas made colonial social identities linger into the decades following independence, well after republican leaders formally abolished the caste system that classified individuals according to racial and ethnic criteria. These institutional and cultural legacies would be profound, since they raised fundamental questions about political inclusion and exclusion precisely when Mexico was trying to envision and realize new forms of political community. The modes of belonging and organizing created by colonialism provided openings for popular mobilization, but they were always stalked by their origins as tools of hierarchy and marginalization.
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.