Indigenous Elites: Survival and Subjugation in Colonial Latin America

Indigenous elites stood at the intersection of political subjugation and cultural survival in Spanish and Portuguese America. Over more than three centuries they acted as intermediaries between their communities and outsiders, as defenders before the law, and even as collaborators with local power groups in the exploitation of their own people. As such, they wielded… Read More Indigenous Elites: Survival and Subjugation in Colonial Latin America

Between Two Worlds: Andean Haciendas in Colonial History

When historian James Lockhart published his renown article “Encomienda and Hacienda” in 1969, the modern historiography on haciendas was already more than forty-years-old.[1] Yet even after decades, historians were only beginning to understand these New World estates in terms of their origins and functions as colonial institutions. Early twentieth century scholars debated the extent of… Read More Between Two Worlds: Andean Haciendas in Colonial History

Moving to the Suburbs: Reducciones in Recent Latin American Historiography

In 1503, the Spanish monarchy issued its first decree for the resettlement of indigenous groups in the Caribbean so that they would “live together” and “not remain or wander separated from each other in the backcountry.” [1]As the European conquest spread to North, Central, and South America, these new settlements – known as reducciones and… Read More Moving to the Suburbs: Reducciones in Recent Latin American Historiography

Writing Revolution: Republican Politics in Three Cuban Histories

Luis E. Aguilar, Samuel Farber, and Robert Whitney present three complimentary interpretations of Cuba’s 1933 Revolution and the social unrest that led to the 1959 Revolution.[1] The authors explore the role of rising mass society, the influence of political and intellectual elites, and the impact of the United States’ intervention in Cuban affairs to shed… Read More Writing Revolution: Republican Politics in Three Cuban Histories

Eight Defaults and 180 Years Later, Ecuador to Repay Bondholders

By Nathan GillNovember 18, 2015 (Bloomberg) — Ecuador is poised to do something it’s never done in its more than 180-year history: repay a bond. “What’s positive is that Ecuador has a new chance to honor, for the first time, the payment of its bonds,” said Santiago Mosquera, a former Fitch Ratings analyst who is… Read More Eight Defaults and 180 Years Later, Ecuador to Repay Bondholders

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion: Charles Walker

Charles Walker left few stones unturned in The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, an impressive analysis of Spain’s largest colonial rebellion. This essay briefly examines two original arguments and two secondary claims made by Walker that help shape our understanding of an uprising that ultimately reached levels of total violence rarely seen in human history. Walker’s “seemingly… Read More The Tupac Amaru Rebellion: Charles Walker

The Inner Life of Empires: Emma Rothschild

Emma Rothschild’s Inner Life of Empires presents a “large microhistory” of the Johnstone family, eleven children, their parents, and two of their slaves, who lived and moved within influential social and intellectual circles during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment (269). This prosopography traces the children’s lives across the British Empire as well as their friendships… Read More The Inner Life of Empires: Emma Rothschild

Mining for the Nation: Jody Pavilack

When Chile granted literate men over the age of 21 the right to vote in 1925, a new era marked by the rise of mass society had begun.[1] Similar to processes unfolding around the world, the enfranchisement of progressively-larger swaths of Chile’s population in the early-twentieth century upended traditional politics and undermined the economic status… Read More Mining for the Nation: Jody Pavilack

Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform: Enrique Mayer

Enrique Mayer’s Ugly Stories of Peruvian Agrarian Reform, a “people-oriented kind of oral history,” provides a memory study of the 1969 land reforms enacted by Peruvian President Juan Velasco Alvarado. Written from the perspective of historical stakeholders and incorporating Mayer’s lifelong participation in the reforms as an academic observer, he weaves a series of testimonies… Read More Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform: Enrique Mayer

Courage Tastes of Blood: Florencia Mallon

Florencia Mallon’s 2005 book, Courage Tastes of Blood: The Mapuche Community of Nicolás Ailío and the Chilean State, 1906-2001, examines the history of a Mapuche indigenous community in southern Chile, focusing on their defense of land and culture in the face of State colonization from 1906 to 2001. Her monograph places archival documents in dialogue… Read More Courage Tastes of Blood: Florencia Mallon

Mastery, Tyranny, & Desire: Trevor Burnard

Death in the sun-drenched fields or torture in the shade of the house? Resistance or collaboration? How did enslaved Africans cope with the trauma of life on Anglo-Jamaican sugar plantations in the eighteenth century? These are some of the very disturbing questions Trevor Burnard tackles in chapter six of Mastery, Tyranny, & Desire, where he… Read More Mastery, Tyranny, & Desire: Trevor Burnard

To Die in This Way: Jeffrey Gould

Jeffrey Gould’s monograph, To Die in This Way (1998), looks at the dialectic relationship between indigenous identity and the formation of the nation-state in Nicaragua from the late nineteenth century until the mid twentieth. Gould challenges the “myth of mestizaje” that holds that, except for the Miskito coast, the Central American nation is an ethnically-homogeneous… Read More To Die in This Way: Jeffrey Gould

With Broadax and Firebrand: Warren Dean

Warren Dean’s With Broadax and Firebrand is a history of the destructive impact of human activity on the Atlantic forests of Brazil. Chronicling social attitudes towards nature and the impact of those attitudes on the forests from pre-Columbian times to the present, he highlights the ultimately unproductive exploitation of Brazilian natural resources, which left the… Read More With Broadax and Firebrand: Warren Dean

Changing Fortunes: Karl Zimmerer

Karl Zimmerer’s Changing Fortunes: Biodiversity and Peasant Livelihood in the Peruvian Andes looks at agriculture systems and species biodiversity in the Peruvian Andes in the late twentieth century. Focusing on an indigenous community in Paucartambo region, near Cuzco, the author explores the divergent fortunes of different communities in this area as they adapted to changing… Read More Changing Fortunes: Karl Zimmerer

Thread of Blood: Ana María Alonso

The role of violence and the importance of cultural identity in the struggles between indigenous communities and the nation-state are the subjects of Ana María Alonso’s monograph, Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico’s Northern Frontier (1995). This anthropological history of machismo in the culturally-mestizo Namiquipa community in Chihuahua looks at how violence,… Read More Thread of Blood: Ana María Alonso

Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America: Asunción Lavrin

Asunción Lavrin’s edited volume, Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America, presents a series of perspectives on what Lavrin calls the “conquest of the mind,” the means through which the Spanish state and Catholic Church sought to maintain control over colonial society. The authors challenge received understandings of the region’s early history by showing the… Read More Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America: Asunción Lavrin

Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador: Suzanne Alchon

Suzanne Alchon: Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador (1991) explores the relationship between epidemic diseases and indigenous populations in the north-central highlands of Ecuador in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Alchon argues that appreciating the role of epidemics in everything from food security to politics is critical to understanding changes in regional history in… Read More Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador: Suzanne Alchon

Oppressed But Not Defeated: Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui

Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui’s Oppressed but Not Defeated, on the struggles of Aymara and Quechua peasants in the highlands and western valleys of the Bolivian Andes, focuses on the creation of peasant unions after the 1952 revolution by the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario. Her book is a concise collection of essays written in collaboration with Bolivian peasant… Read More Oppressed But Not Defeated: Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui

The Agrarian Question and the Peasant Movement in Colombia: Léon Zamosc

Sociologist Léon Zamosc’s The Agrarian Question and the Peasant Movement in Colombia, looks at the development of agrarian capitalism and peasant land struggles in Colombia between 1967 and 1981. In ten concise chapters, Zamosc analyzes differences in agrarian strategies, changes in peasant-state relations, and what he calls the politics and ideology of the “peasant challenge,”… Read More The Agrarian Question and the Peasant Movement in Colombia: Léon Zamosc

Huarochirí: Karen Spalding

Karen Spalding’s history of colonial Peru, Huarochirí, begins with the origins of Andean society, following social changes from pre-Inca days until the height of colonial rule. Written in the mid-1980s amidst a brutal economic crisis that inordinately impacted indigenous communities in areas like Huarochirí, this monograph seems an attempt to revalorize Andean society at a… Read More Huarochirí: Karen Spalding

Miners of the Red Mountain: Peter Bakewell

Peter Bakewell’s Miners of the Red Mountain: Indian Labor in Potosí, 1545-1650 (1984) looks at the changing systems of labor and production used at the silver mines of Potosí in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Bakewell questions the long-held assumption that the mines were overwhelmingly worked by forced laborers, arguing instead that declining… Read More Miners of the Red Mountain: Peter Bakewell

Changes in the Land: William Cronon

William Cronon’s Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983) looks at environmental change and human landscaping in pre-Columbian and colonial New England. Cronon argues that what we think of as “nature” on the so-called American frontier was not an untouched and pristine wilderness, but a heavily landscaped environment where… Read More Changes in the Land: William Cronon

Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Steve Stern

Stern, Steve J. Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. Steve Stern’s Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 centers on colonial Huamanga, a strategic military and economic region along the route between Lima and Potosí. It was… Read More Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Steve Stern

Peasant Cooperatives and Political Change in Peru: Cynthia McClintock

Cynthia McClintock’s monograph, Peasant Cooperatives and Political Change in Peru, looks at the social and political effect of the agrarian reforms of the Velasco administration between 1968 to 1975. Focusing closely on the 1969 hacienda expropriations and subsequent implementation of self-managing agrarian cooperatives, McClintock uses a series of social surveys, carried out by Cornell University… Read More Peasant Cooperatives and Political Change in Peru: Cynthia McClintock

Repartos y Rebeliones: Jürgen Golte

Jürgen Golte’s Repartos y Rebeliones, published in German in 1977 and translated into Spanish by Carlos Degregori in 1980, analyzes the implementation, evolution, and resistance to the repartimiento de efectos, put in place by Spain’s Bourbon reformers in the eighteenth century.[1] Golte sought to revise earlier studies that overlooked the role of the repartos, a… Read More Repartos y Rebeliones: Jürgen Golte

Conquest and Agrarian Change: Robert Keith

Robert Keith’s 1976 Conquest and Agrarian Change: The Emergence of the Hacienda System on the Peruvian Coast, explored the rise of Spanish plantations in seven valleys along Peru’s southern coast in the second half of the sixteenth century. Keith emphasized the legacy of pre-Colombian societies in the development of the hacienda, arguing that in addition… Read More Conquest and Agrarian Change: Robert Keith

Economic Organization of the Inka State: John Murra

John Murra developed his now-famous theory of the Andean “vertical archipelago” in Formaciones Económicas y Políticas del Mundo Andino (1975, trans. Economic Organization of the Inka State, 1980), which grew out of his research in the Peruvian highlands between 1958 and 1973. Murra argued that pre-Columbian societies in the Andes sought to control a range of ecological zones… Read More Economic Organization of the Inka State: John Murra

Plotting Pachakuti: Incan Conquest Sites in the Galvin Murúa

Martín de Murúa was a Basque Mercedarian friar who wrote the Historia General del Piru (c.1580-1616), an illustrated history of what are today the South American nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Murúa arrived in Peru in the early 1580s and traveled extensively as a missionary and translator of Quechua and Spanish in the… Read More Plotting Pachakuti: Incan Conquest Sites in the Galvin Murúa