Family Stories, Local Practices, and the Struggle for Social Improvement in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Latin America

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Mexico, Papers/Presentations on 2012-11-23 05:39Z by Steven

Family Stories, Local Practices, and the Struggle for Social Improvement in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Latin America

127th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association
New Orleans, Louisiana
2013-01-03 through 2013-01-06

AHA Session 25: Conference on Latin American History 3
Thursday, 2012-01-03: 13:00-15:00 CST (Local Time)
Conti Room (Roosevelt New Orleans)

Chair: Matt D. O’Hara, University of California, Santa Cruz


Comment: Elizabeth A. Kuznesof, University of Kansas

Over the last three decades, scholars of colonial and early national Latin America have worked to organize archives and compile quantitative data relative to the demographic composition and patterns of social interaction that marked those societies. Thanks to their efforts, we now have a better understanding of the impact Iberian, African and Indigenous peoples had on the formation of a colonial population; what the dominant patterns of family formation and population growth were; how the social and economic behavior of colonial elites supported the social reproduction of white privilege; how the social and economic behavior of Blacks and Indios challenged or at least complicated the existing social and racial hierarchies. These efforts, moreover, have now resulted in rich datasets that allow historians to follow individuals and their families over time to understand better the impact family formation and their various social and economic behaviors have had on the experiences of different ethnic and racial groups, as well as the history of particular localities, in this formative period of Latin American societies. The papers in this panel employ the study of families in a generational perspective as a new methodological approach to explore further issues of social mobility among persons of non-Iberian of mixed descent and their relevance to the development of a colonial or early national social order in Latin America. Through their focus on specific families and their local connections, moreover, the papers help to elucidate questions about the long term impact of individual social improvement on, and the importance of local practices and circumstances to, the social standing of families whose members transcended the social boundaries between free and slave, black/indio and white. Together these papers advance the current scholarship on race relations and social mobility in colonial and early national Latin America in two fundamental ways. First, they integrate historical narratives of black, white, and indigenous social experiences—which still tend to be developed separately—and demonstrate that certain social practices and behaviors that shaped social orders in the past resulted sometimes from the coordinated (and not oppositional) actions and efforts of members of mixed-race family and social units. Second, they highlight how socio-economic practices and behaviors that influenced local realities first, and broader regional, national, or imperial realities second, were born out of strategies individual families pursued generation after generation to ensure the well-being of their members.

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Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, Slavery, Social Science on 2011-12-05 00:14Z by Steven

Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times

University of New Mexico Press
296 pages
6 x 9 in, 21 halftones, 4 maps
paperback ISBN: 978-0-8263-4701-5

Edited by:

Ben Vinson III, Professor of history and Director of the Center for Africana Studies
Johns Hopkins University

Matthew Restall, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies
Pennsylvania State University

The essays in this collection build upon a series of conversations and papers that resulted from “New Directions in North American Scholarship on Afro-Mexico,” a symposium conducted at Pennsylvania State University in 2004. The issues addressed include contested historiography, social and economic contributions of Afro-Mexicans, social construction of race and ethnic identity, forms of agency and resistance, and contemporary inquiry into ethnographic work on Afro-Mexican communities. Comprised of a core set of chapters that examine the colonial period and a shorter epilogue addressing the modern era, this volume allows the reader to explore ideas of racial representation from the sixteenth century into the twenty-first.


Joan Bristol, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
Patrick Carroll, Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi
Andrew B. Fisher, Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
Nicole von Germeten, Oregon State University, Corvallis
Laura A. Lewis, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Jean-Philibert Mobwa Mobwa N’djoli, Congolese native living in Mexico City
Frank “Trey” Proctor III, Denison University, Granville, Ohio
Alva Moore Stevenson, University of California, Los Angeles
Bobby Vaughn, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, California

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Creating and Contesting Community: Indians and Afromestizos in the Late-Colonial Tierra Caliente of Guerrero, Mexico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2011-12-04 23:57Z by Steven

Creating and Contesting Community: Indians and Afromestizos in the Late-Colonial Tierra Caliente of Guerrero, Mexico
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 2006
E-ISSN: 1532-5768
DOI: 10.1353/cch.2006.0030

Andrew B. Fisher, Associate Professor of History
Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota

Late in the afternoon of January 13, 1783 the parish priest of Tetela del Río, Br. don Nicolás Vásquez, rested in the hamlet (cuadrilla) of Cacalotepeque as he prepared to trek back to his parish seat. Father Vásquez had arrived only an hour earlier to minister to the ailing daughter of Capitán Luis de la Cruz, the mulato leader of the settlement. Cacalotepeque was but one of a number of informal communities scattered across the mid-Balsas River Valley of western Mexico. Consisting mostly of mulato farmers, the hamlet was neither recognized by the colonial state as an Indian pueblo nor held as a private estate. The land it occupied did not belong to its inhabitants, but rather comprised part of the contested territorial limits of two rival Indian pueblos, Tetela and Apaxtla, situated roughly equidistant from both. Much as Afromestizos lacked a stable and recognized position within colonial racial hierarchies, a semi-autonomous Afromestizo community likewise confronted a precarious existence. This reality was made abundantly clear to Father Vásquez on that fateful afternoon. As he conversed with the hamlet’s residents, some sixty indigenous villagers from Apaxtla approached on horseback. Several local men informed Vásquez that the villagers had arrived to steal away the cuadrilla’s corn, inducing…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation on 2011-12-04 23:23Z by Steven

Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America

Duke University Press
320 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4401-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-4420-9

Edited by:

Matthew D. O’Hara, Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Santa Cruz

Andrew Fisher, Associate Professor of History
Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota

In colonial Latin America, social identity did not correlate neatly with fixed categories of race and ethnicity. As Imperial Subjects demonstrates, from the early years of Spanish and Portuguese rule, understandings of race and ethnicity were fluid. In this collection, historians offer nuanced interpretations of identity as they investigate how Iberian settlers, African slaves, Native Americans, and their multi-ethnic progeny understood who they were as individuals, as members of various communities, and as imperial subjects. The contributors’ explorations of the relationship between colonial ideologies of difference and the identities historical actors presented span the entire colonial period and beyond: from early contact to the legacy of colonial identities in the new republics of the nineteenth century. The volume includes essays on the major colonial centers of Mexico, Peru, and Brazil, as well as the Caribbean basin and the imperial borderlands.

Whether analyzing cases in which the Inquisition found that the individuals before it were “legally” Indians and thus exempt from prosecution, or considering late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century petitions for declarations of whiteness that entitled the mixed-race recipients to the legal and social benefits enjoyed by whites, the book’s contributors approach the question of identity by examining interactions between imperial subjects and colonial institutions. Colonial mandates, rulings, and legislation worked in conjunction with the exercise and negotiation of power between individual officials and an array of social actors engaged in countless brief interactions. Identities emerged out of the interplay between internalized understandings of self and group association and externalized social norms and categories.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword / Irene Silverblatt
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Racial Identities and Their Interpreters in Colonial Latin America / Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew D. O’Hara
  • 1. Aristocracy on the Auction Block: Race, Lords, and the Perpetuity Controversy of Sixteenth-Century Peru / Jeremy Mumford
  • 2. A Market of Identities: Women, Trade, and Ethnic Labels in Colonial Potosí­ / Jane E. Mangan
  • 3. Legally Indian: Inquisitorial Readings of Indigenous Identity in New Spain / David Tavárez
  • 4. The Many Faces of Colonialism in Two Iberoamerican Borderlands: Northern New Spain and the Eastern Lowlands of Charcas / Cynthia Radding
  • 5. Humble Slaves and Loyal Vassals: Free Africans and Their Descendents in Eighteenth-Century Minas Gerais, Brazil / Mariana L. R. Dantas
  • 6. Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations of the Essence of Parso-ness and Mulatto-ness at the End of Empire / Ann Twinam
  • 7. Patricians and Plebians in Late Colonial Charcas: Identity, Representation, and Colonialism / Sergio Serulnikov
  • 8. Conjuring Identities: Race, Nativeness, Local Citizenship, and Royal Slavery on an Imperial Frontier (Revisiting El Cobre, Cuba) / María Elena Díaz
  • 9. Indigenous Citizenship: Liberalism, Political Participation, and Ethic Identity in Post-Independence Oaxaca and Yucatán / Karen D. Caplan
  • Conclusion / R. Douglas Cope
  • Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index
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