In this innovative study, Leo Cabranes-Grant analyzes four intercultural events in the Viceroyalty of New Spain that took place between 1566 and 1690. Rather than relying on racial labels to describe alterations of identity, Cabranes-Grant focuses on experimentation, rehearsal, and the interaction between bodies and objects. His analysis shows how scenarios are invested with affective qualities, which in turn enable cultural and semiotic change. Central to his argument is Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory, which figures society as a constantly evolving web of relationships among objects, people, and spaces. In examining these scenarios, Cabranes-Grant attempts to discern the reasons why the conditions of an intensified moment within this ceaseless flow take on a particular value and inspire their re-creation. Cabranes-Grant offers a fresh perspective on Latour’s theory and reorients debates concerning history and historiography in the field of performance studies.
Using judicial records from a variety of colonial courts, Lewis highlights the ethnographic details of legal proceedings as she demonstrates how Indians, in particular, came to be the masters of witchcraft, a domain of power that drew on gendered and hegemonic caste distinctions to complicate the colonial hierarchy. She also reveals the ways in which blacks, mulattoes, and mestizos mediated between Spaniards and Indians, alternatively reinforcing Spanish authority and challenging it through alliances with Indians. Bringing to life colonial subjects as they testified about their experiences, Hall of Mirrors discloses a series of contradictions that complicate easy distinctions between subalterns and elites, resistance and power.
Winner, Humanities Book Prize, Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association, 2018
Many scholars believe that the modern concentration camp was born during the Cuban war for independence when Spanish authorities ordered civilians living in rural areas to report to the nearest city with a garrison of Spanish troops. But the practice of spatial concentration—gathering people and things in specific ways, at specific places, and for specific purposes—has a history in Latin America that reaches back to the conquest. In this paradigm-setting book, Daniel Nemser argues that concentration projects, often tied to urbanization, laid an enduring, material groundwork, or infrastructure, for the emergence and consolidation of new forms of racial identity and theories of race.
Infrastructures of Race traces the use of concentration as a technique for colonial governance by examining four case studies from Mexico under Spanish rule: centralized towns, disciplinary institutions, segregated neighborhoods, and general collections. Nemser shows how the colonial state used concentration in its attempts to build a new spatial and social order, and he explains why the technique flourished in the colonies. Although the designs for concentration were sometimes contested and short-lived, Nemser demonstrates that they provided a material foundation for ongoing processes of racialization. This finding, which challenges conventional histories of race and mestizaje (racial mixing), promises to deepen our understanding of the way race emerges from spatial politics and techniques of population management.
Through close readings of the painted images in a major sixteenth-century illustrated manuscript, this book demonstrates the critical role that images played in ethnic identity formation and politics in colonial Mexico.
The Relación de Michoacán (1539–1541) is one of the earliest surviving illustrated manuscripts from colonial Mexico. Commissioned by the Spanish viceroy Antonio de Mendoza, the Relación was produced by a Franciscan friar together with indigenous noble informants and anonymous native artists who created its forty-four illustrations. To this day, the Relación remains the primary source for studying the pre-Columbian practices and history of the people known as Tarascans or P’urhépecha. However, much remains to be said about how the Relación’s colonial setting shaped its final form.
By looking at the Relación in its colonial context, this study reveals how it presented the indigenous collaborators a unique opportunity to shape European perceptions of them while settling conflicting agendas, outshining competing ethnic groups, and carving a place for themselves in the new colonial society. Through archival research and careful visual analysis, Angélica Afanador-Pujol provides a new and fascinating account that situates the manuscript’s images within the colonial conflicts that engulfed the indigenous collaborators. These conflicts ranged from disputes over political posts among indigenous factions to labor and land disputes against Spanish newcomers. Afanador-Pujol explores how these tensions are physically expressed in the manuscript’s production and in its many contradictions between text and images, as well as in numerous emendations to the images. By studying representations of justice, landscape, conquest narratives, and genealogy within the Relación, Afanador-Pujol clearly demonstrates the visual construction of identity, its malleability, and its political possibilities.
2023 — Best Subsequent Book — Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
2023 — Honorable Mention, Best Book in the Social Sciences — Latin American Studies Association, Mexico Section
2022 — Marysa Navarro Best Book Prize — New England Council of Latin American Studies
2023 — Honorable Mention, LASA Mexico Social Sciences Book Prize — Mexico Section, Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
As the first exhaustive translation and analysis of an extraordinary Zapotec calendar and ritual song corpus, seized in New Spain in 1704, this book expands our understanding of Mesoamerican history, cosmology, and culture.
In 1702, after the brutal suppression of a Zapotec revolt, the bishop of Oaxaca proclaimed an amnesty for idolatry in exchange for collective confessions. To evade conflict, Northern Zapotec communities denounced ritual specialists and surrendered sacred songs and 102 divinatory manuals, which preserve cosmological accounts, exchanges with divine beings, and protocols of pre-Columbian origin that strongly resemble sections of the Codex Borgia. These texts were sent to Spain as evidence of failed Dominican evangelization efforts, and there they remained, in oblivion, until the 1960s.
In this book, David Tavárez dives deep into this formidable archive of ritual and divinatory manuals, the largest calendar corpus in the colonial Americas, and emerges with a rich understanding of Indigenous social and cultural history, Mesoamerican theories of cosmos and time, and Zapotec ancestor worship. Drawing on his knowledge of Zapotec and Nahuatl, two decades of archival research, and a decade of fieldwork, Tavárez dissects Mesoamerican calendars as well as Native resistance and accommodation to the colonial conquest of time, while also addressing entangled transatlantic histories and shining new light on texts still connected to contemporary observances in Zapotec communities.
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