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City Indians in Spain’s American Empire

Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810

In the series
First Nations and the Colonial Encounter

Dana Velasco Murillo is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.

Mark Lentz is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Margarita R. Ochoa is Assistant Professor of Latin American history at Loyola Marymount University.

City Indians presents pioneering histories of urban Indians in early Latin America. An important but understudied segment of colonial society, urban Indians composed a majority of the population of Spanish America's most important cities. This volume spans a good part of the Americas, from Northern Mexico to Peru, over the course of three centuries. The chapters address a wide variety of topics, from indigenous governance and interethnic interactions to migration and identity. Native nobles, chroniclers, textile workers, migrants, widows, orphans, and muleteers are among the protagonists of the study. This anthology, the first of its kind in English, demonstrates the importance of urban Indian contributions to Spanish American society in the colonial period and beyond.

Scholarly contributions include chapters by Susan Schroeder, “Whither Tenochtitlan? Chimalpahin and Mexico City, 1593–1631,” and David Cahill, “Ethnogenesis in the City: A Native Andean Etnia in a Colonial City.” The volume opens with commentary by John K. Chance, scholar of urban Indians in Latin America and author of Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca, and is summarized in “Concluding Remarks” by Kevin Terraciano, author of The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca: Ñudzahui History, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-441-3
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $74.95
Release Date: December 2011
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-621-9
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: November 2013
Page Extent / Format: 272 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


List of Maps and Tables

Series Editors Preface, David Cahill
Introduction, John K. Chance

1. Alliance Building and the Restoration of Native Government in the Altepetl of Mexico
Tenochtitlan, 1521–1565, William F. Connell

2. Ethnogenesis in the City: A Native Andean Etnia in a Colonial City, David Cahill

3. Surviving the Colonial City: Native Peoples in Early Santiago de Guatemala, Robinson A. Herrera

4. Whither Tenochtitlan? Chimalpahin and Mexico City, 1593–1631, Susan Schroeder

5. "Much Too Worthy...": Indians in Seventeenth-Century Lima, Paul Charney

6. Mine Workers and Weavers: Afro-Indigenous Labor Arrangements and Interactions in Puebla and Zacatecas, 1600>–1700, Dana Velasco Murillo and Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva

7. "Mi Tierra": Indigenous Migrants and their Hometowns in the Colonial Andes, Gabriela Ramos

8. Fitting In: Urban Indians, Migrants, and Muleteers in Colonial Peru, Rachel Sarah O’Toole

9. Batabs of the Barrio: Urban Maya Rulers, Mérida, Yucatan, 1670–1806, Mark W. Lentz

10. Culture in Possessing: Land and Legal Practices among the Natives of Eighteenth-Century Mexico City, Margarita R. Ochoa

Concluding Remarks, Kevin Terraciano

List of Contributors

Although both the Andes and Mesoamerica experienced centuries of urban development prior to the Spanish conquest, many historians and social scientists have tended to treat First Nations peoples resident in cities as deracinated, cut loose from their communities of origin, and therefore assumed to be less pristine and less authentically indigenous. The study of urban indigenous groups in the Americas has lagged behind that of rural communities. This volume, however, attests to a growing interest in the urban ethnohistory of colonial Spanish America. It spans the entire colonial era, from Tenochtitlan and Cuzco, the two great imperial capitals encountered by the Spaniards upon their arrival, to new colonial foundations: Lima, Puebla, Trujillo del Perú, Zacatecas, Mérida, and Santiago de Guatemala. All these cities contained large indigenous populations. This volume thus marks progress in understanding city Indians, relations between urban and rural groups, and an overall appreciation of the colonial experience of indigenous peoples in Spanish America.
From the Preface by First Nations Series Editor, David Cahill, University of New South Wales

City Indians in Spain’s American Empire shows that native societies not only endured the challenges of city life but also were critical to the development and maintenance of colonial societies as a whole. … The comparative nature of this volume shows the great diversity of experiences for urban Indians. … The chapters on the construction of identity illustrate the shifting landscapes of ethnicity in colonial cities. City Indians represents an important work that captures how indigenous societies were not simply the lower masses of colonial cities but rather were important, though overlooked, contributors to the colonial world. … A series of compelling chapters highlight how indigenous institutions operated under colonial urban conditions. This excellent volume explores the myriad methods of indigenous agency to show the malleability of indigenous societies within urban spaces across colonial Latin America.
Hispanic American Historical Review

This pioneering collection of scholarly essays represents a significant step forward in knowledge of a hitherto neglected segment of urban society and signposts many directions for future research. It is a welcome addition to the literature on the social history of colonial Spanish America.

Linda A. Newson, Institute of Latin American Studies and King’s College London, reviewing in the Journal of Latin American Studies

While Latin America’s native Indian population created urban developments for centuries prior to the Spanish Conquest, many scholars have seemed to treat them as more wanderers than true city dwellers. This book provides some new perspectives on the colonial period in Spanish America (from northern Mexico to Peru) and illustrates the contributions those Indians made to Spanish American culture. The anthology tells the story based on a broad range of people, with native nobles to textile workers and widows and orphans as the featured players. Editors Murillo (Latin American history, Adelphi U.), Lentz (Latin American history, U. of Louisiana-Lafayette), Ochoa (Latin American history, Loyola Marymount U.), and nine co-authors contributed to the book.

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