Cosmopolitan Indians and Mesoamerican barrios in Bourbon Mexico City : tribute, community, family and work in 1800
Granados, Luis Fernando.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. This work aims to lay out a new understanding of the indigenous societies of Spanish America while advancing a clearer and more nuanced notion of preindustrial urbanism for the Western Hemisphere. It focuses on the social geography, labor conditions, and demographic structures of the population defined by Spanish law as "tributary"---the officially recognized Indian---as it shows up in a massive census-like document: an eight-volume matricula or tribute roll prepared in 1800 for the municipality of San Juan Tenochtitlan.; The main "story" the dissertation tells is that of thousands of Indian men, women, and children who do not look like Indians; that is, that deviate from the historiographical canon about the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The Indians of San Juan Tenochtitlan were engaged in artisan activities and proletarian labor, held Spanish surnames, were fluent in Spanish and lived in families significantly smaller than their counterparts in the countryside, while large numbers of them were almost certainly recent immigrants to the city. And yet, nearly half of them continued to belong to intermediary entities at once territorial jurisdictions and corporate units known as barrios. The dissertation's main character, barrio is usually translated as "neighborhood"---incorrectly, for the word exaggerates the institution's geographic dimension, obscuring its social and spatial mobility as well as its architectural and cultural cosmopolitanism. A central contention of the work, then, is that Mexico City's barrios were not only districts or wards but mainly urban "hosts" of historical communities.; Since the Indians of San Juan Tenochtitlan cannot be disregarded as "fake" or acculturated ones, or mestizos-in-the-making, the dissertation concludes that the canonical image of the Indians of Mesoamerica has to be substantially revised, as to include features---such as mobility, urbanism, adaptability, cosmopolitanism---that until not so long ago were considered merely idiosyncratic or accidental. The central proposition of this work, in other words, is that Mexico City's indigenous inhabitants, rather than an exception to the rule, ought to be considered the most radical instance of the suppleness and resilience that characterized indigenous cultures as a whole under Spanish rule.
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