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Law and Race in Colonial Spanish America (Frank Eissa-Barroso)

This seminar explores the relationship between race and the legal system in colonial Spanish America by looking at the development of specific institutions for Indian justice, the use of the legal system by subordinate groups, and the ways in which we can access the voice of these groups through legal documents.

 

Questions 

  1. How did European ideas about race and justice influence the development of early Spanish American institutions? Why did the crown establish separate ‘republics’ of Indians and Spaniards?
  2. Legally, what did it mean to be an Indian in colonial Spanish America? Did their legal status provide any benefits to Indian communities or individuals? How did access to the Spanish legal system affect the structures and internal life of Indian communities?
  3. Can we say that the legal system gave agency to Indians and Blacks in Colonial Spanish America? What can we learn about the experiences of Indians and Blacks in colonial Spanish America through legal documents?

 

Primary Sources

  • Arrelucea Barrantes, Maribel, ‘Slavery, Writing and Female Resistance: Black Women Litigants in Lima’s Late Colonial Tribunals of the 1780s’, in K.J. McKnight and L.J. Garofalo (eds.), Afro-Latino Voices. Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550-1812 (Indianapolis, 2009), pp. pp. 285-301.
  • ‘Letter of the council of Huejotzingo to the king, 1560’, in A.J.O. Anderson, F. Berdan and J. Lockhart (eds.), Beyond the Codices: the Nahua View of Colonial Mexico (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 176-190.
  • ‘Letter of members of the council of San Pedro Huehuetlan, Soconusco, to Licentiate Francisco Briceño, visitor general, in Santiago de Guatemala, 1565’, in A.J.O. Anderson, F. Berdan and J. Lockhart (eds.), Beyond the Codices: the Nahua View of Colonial Mexico (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 190-196.
  • McKnight, Kathryn Joy, ‘Elder, Slave, and Soldier: Maroon Voices from the Palenque del Limon, 1634’, in K.J. McKnight and L.J. Garofalo (eds.), Afro-Latino Voices. Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550-1812 (Indianapolis, 2009), pp. 64-81.
  • ‘Petition for removal of the priest of Jalostotitlan, 1611’, in A.J.O. Anderson, F. Berdan and J. Lockhart (eds.), Beyond the Codices: the Nahua View of Colonial Mexico (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 166-174.

 

Readings

    • Bennett, Herman L., Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640 (Bloomington, 2005), pp. 51-79.
    • Borah, Woodrow, ‘The Spanish and Indian Law: New Spain‘, in G.A. Collier, R.I. Rosaldo, and J.D. Wirth (eds.), The Inca and Aztec States 1400–1800 (New York, 1982), pp. 265-288.
    • Borah, Woodrow, Justice by Insurance: the General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aids of the Half-Real (Berkeley, 1983), especially chapters 4 and 5.
    • Bryant, Sherwin K., ‘Enslaved rebels, fugitives, and litigants: the resistance continuum in colonial Quito’, Colonial Latin American Review 13:1 (2004), pp. 7-46.
    • Cañeque, Alejandro, The king’s living image: the culture and politics of viceregal power in Colonial Mexico (New York, 2004), Chapters 6-7.
    • Charles, John, ‘“More Ladino than Necessary”: Indigenous Litigants and the Language Policy Debate in Mid-Colonial Peru’, Colonial Latin American Review 16:1 (2007), pp. 23-47.
    • Fisher, Andrew B. and Matthew D. O’Hara, ‘Introduction: Racial Identities and Their Interpreters in Colonial Latin America’, in A.B. Fisher and M.D. O’Hara (eds.), Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America (Durham, 20009), pp. 1-38.
    • MacLachlan, Colin M., Spain’s empire in the new world: the role of ideas in institutional and social change (Berkeley, 1998), Chapter 3.
    • Nowack, Kerstin, ‘Las Mercedes que pedía para su salida. The Vilcabamba Inca and the Spanish State, 1539-1572’, in D. Cahill and B. Tovías (eds.), New World, First Nations. Native Peoples of Mesoamerica and the Andes under Colonial Rule (Brighton: Sussex Academic Pres, 2006), pp. 57-91.
    • Owensby, Brian P., Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), especially chapters 1, 2 and 3.
    • Stern, Steve J., Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), Chapter 5.
    • Tavarez, David, ‘Legally Indian: Inquisitorial Readings of Indigenous Identity in New Spain’, in A.B. Fisher and M.D. O’Hara (eds.), Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America (Durham, 20009), pp. 81-100.
    • Yannakakis, Yanna, ‘The Indios Conquistadores of Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte: From Indian Conquerors to Local Indians’, in L. E. Matthew and M. R. Oudijk (eds.), Indian Conquistadors: Indigenous Allies in the Conquest of Mesoamerica (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), pp. 227-253.

    Getting hold of some of the books assigned for this session from the library might be difficult. However, a spare set of all those materials not yet available from the library, or of which the library holds only one copy, is available from the Postgraduate office (H3.40) for you to make your own photocopies