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The Destruction of the Indigenous Peoples of Hispano America
A Genocidal Encounter
Eitan Ginzberg is the author of Lázaro Cárdenas, gobernador de Michoacán, 1928–1932 (1999), and Revolutionary Ideology and Political Destiny in Mexico, 1928–1934: Lázaro Cárdenas and Adalberto Tejeda (2015). His research focuses on questions of infra-political resistance, history and culture of Latin America, and the study of genocide. Dr. Ginzberg serves as a researcher at the Sverdlin Institute of Latin American History and Culture at the University of Tel Aviv.
It was not the original intention of the Spanish to harm the Hispanic-American
natives. The Spanish Crown, Councils and Church considered the natives
free and intelligent vassals entitled to be embraced by Christianity
and by the Hispanic civil culture. However, at the same time it
was the monarchy’s decision to exploit the natives as taxpayers
and as a reservoir of forced labor that made its rule in America
exceptionally destructive. The recruitment of the natives to serve
the interests of the Spanish Empire under what can only be considered
near to slave conditions, compounded by systematic annihilation
of their cultures and by cyclical epidemics, led to the near total
eradication of the Indians.
The book narrates the story of the Spanish conquest and the widespread violations against the Hispanic-American natives. The author ponders on the question why the Spanish Crown and the Church failed to apply the necessary measures to effectively protect the natives, particularly during the first years of the conquest and its aftermaths, when exploitation practices were gradually formed and implemented. The author further enquires how exploitation on this scale was made possible despite a constant flow of reports emphasizing the clear and present danger to the very existence of the natives and the profound, ongoing debates, led by most prominent intellectuals of the time, challenging its justification.
Based upon primary sources and current research on the relationship between colonialism and genocide, this book examines whether the Spanish actions were genocidal. What lies at the heart of the issue is whether the wide range of exploitative acts implies ministerial responsibility of the Crown and its Councils in Spain, Crowns’ agents in America, or whether the destruction of the native population resulted from unplanned but acute circumstances, making it impossible to place the blame on specific persons or institutions.
|Hardback Price:||£75 / $99.95|
|Release Date:||March 2018|
|Paperback Price:||£40.00 / $60.00|
|Release Date:||February 2019|
|Page Extent / Format:||400 pp. / 234 x 156 mm|
|Illustrated:||Pictures and maps|
List of Illustrations and Maps
Genocide and the Hispanic American dilemma
The concept of genocide and its referential limitations
The limited approach to the question of genocide
Genocide as a twentieth-century phenomenon
The Jewish Holocaust: a unique genocidal phenomenon?
Should cultural extermination be viewed as genocide?
The question of intent
Settler colonialism as piecemeal genocide?
The extended approach to the question of genocide
Is genocide without intent possible?
Genocide as a universal phenomenon
Genocide as an extermination of culture
Genocide as a colonial condition: Lemkin’s observation
The Hispanic American dilemma according to Lemkin
Focus and aims of this study
Chapter 1 America and the Native Americans: On the Eve of a Tragic Encounter
The population of America on the eve of the conquest
Origins of the Central and South American cultures
Creating existential frameworks for daily life
The dimension of time
Material culture and social life
Spiritual life and ritual
Writing and literature
Political structure and imperial territory on the eve of the conquest
Human sacrifice and cannibalism
From discovery to concealment
Chapter 2 Spaniards and Indianos at the Onset of the Conquest
Emergence of the Spaniard as a “frontier man”
The consolidation of Spain
Spanish momentum and expanding horizons
Chapter 3 The Discovery and Conquest of America
The discovery and exploration of the New World
The conquest of Mexico
The conquest of Peru
Factors that contributed to the Spanish victory
Chapter 4 The Conquest: A Strategy of Cruelty and Destruction
Dynamics of mass killings
“Pacification”: The horrors of an expanding conquest
The Chichimeca Affair
Devastation of infrastructure
Violence as logic of conquest
Chapter 5 Institutions of Subjugation and Acculturation
The repartiemento (allocation) system
The repartimiento on trial: The Third Provincial Council of the Mexican Church (1585)
Background, framework, and agenda
Pedro de Pravia’s response
The Franciscan position
Ortíz de Hinojosa’s standpoint
Life under the repartimiento system
The head tax (tributo)
Indian resettlement and destruction of regions of memory
Chapter 6 Debating the Appropriate Treatment of Native Americans (1511–1539)
The groundbreaking sermons of Antonio de Montesinos (1511)
The Council of Burgos (1512)
The Valladolid Conference of November 1526
In the name of the humanity and wisdom of the Indians: the Papal Bull of Paul III
Francisco de Vitoria and the justification of the Spanish rule in America (1534–1539)
Proposal for a new legal order
The conceptual framework
The Indis and the false claims on America
De Indis and the seemingly legal Spanish claims to America
De iure belli: Was the war against the Indians a just one?
Chapter 7 Debating the Appropriate Treatment of Native Americans (1542–1585)
The new laws of 1542
The idea of restitution (1547)
The debate: Bartolomé de Las Casas versus Juan Gines de Sepúlveda (1550–1551)
The Codex of 1573
The Third Provincial Council of the Mexican Church (1585)
Chapter 8 Unintended Calamity or a Genocidal Encounter? What did actually happen in Sixteenth-Century Hispano-America?
The Inevitability of the Spanish Colonization
The Logics of Spanish colonialism and its consequences
The Debate about the plagues and their causes
Unintended calamity or a genocidal encounter?
From denial of responsibility to denial of the Indian
Epilogue: Lessons about Genocide and the Destruction of Culture
The policy of Indian rehabilitation and its critics
The emergence of Spanish American Indianism
Lessons to be drawn from the extermination of the Indians
Glossary of Terms
List of Copyright Holders
This study for students and scholars explains the origins of colonialism in Hispano America, examines the aims and motivations of European explorers, and assesses the level of human, material, and cultural destruction in Central and South America, in order to determine whether what took place in Hispano America in the 16th century should be categorized as genocide or merely as wide-scale destruction by the Spanish. The first part of the book deals with definitions and frameworks of genocide, various historical genocides, and the question of genocidal intent, as a way to begin debating whether the Spanish encounter with Hispano America in the 16th century was a genocidal encounter. Later chapters deal with various aspects of the cultural destruction. The book also considers how the indigenous population dealt with the destruction and how it has been commemorated. Of special interest is discussion of the widespread practice of human sacrifice and cannibalism in indigenous cultures of Hispano America and whether that is similar to, or a justification for, genocide. The book contains a glossary and color photographs, illustrations, and maps.
Reviewed in Spanish by Raquel Gil Montero in Iberoamericana, XX, 7 (2020)
Reviewed by Silke Hensel in Zeitschrift für Historische Forschun, 47 (2020).
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