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Atlantic History Mexico
by
Sean McEnroe

Introduction

Works treating Atlantic history and world systems as their explicit object generally address a broader geographic field than Mexico itself. Consequently, while the vocabulary and analytical categories best suited to the discussions of Mexico in Atlantic history have often arisen from general works, the body of historical information most relevant to the subject frequently appears in studies that are national, regional, or local in scope. Many important contributions to our understanding of Mexico in the Atlantic world have been offered as part of larger projects comparing the French, English and Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies. These works address the slave trade, large-scale agriculture, and patterns of conquest and commerce as interrelated phenomena across the Western Hemisphere. Because such works may be found in other Oxford Bibliographies: Atlantic History articles, the collection of citations presented here will focus on works specifically devoted to the history of Mexico. Chronologically, all considerations of Mexican history in the Atlantic world must begin with the arrival of Cortés. However, the terminal point for studies of the subject (if there is one) is not so clear. Mexico belonged to an imperial system linking it to Spain until national independence in the 1820s. From that point forward, its economic, cultural, and political history was increasingly tied to an Atlantic world dominated by northern Europe and the United States. Because the field of Atlantic history has customarily addressed the period before the 20th century, the citations presented in this entry focus on the period from the Spanish Conquest to the Mexican Revolution, with an emphasis on the colonial era.

General Overviews

One will not find a book written as a systematic overview of Mexico’s place in Atlantic history. There are, however, several excellent general works on Mexican history that are helpful in exploring the colony and nation’s position in the Atlantic world. Generally speaking, survey works on Mexico are either comprehensive in scope, as in the case of A Concise History of Mexico (Hamnett 2006), the Colegio de Mexico’s Historia General de México (Cosío Villegas 2000), and The Course of Mexican History (Meyer, et al. 2002); or they limit themselves to either the colonial or modern era, as in the case of Mexico in the Colonial Period (Knight 2002).Though there are many well-written popular histories of Mexico, a much smaller number of books are sufficiently transparent in their scholarship to be useful to historians. The following works are notable for their high standards of clarity and scholarship.

  • Cosío Villegas, Daniel, ed. Historia general de México: Versión 2000. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2000.

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    This is a substantial collection of writings, each chapter authored by a leading Mexican historian. The chapters are defined by theme but organized chronologically. It is an excellent entry into current historical debates, though less helpful than the other works listed here, as a first introduction to Mexican history.

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  • Hamnett, Brian R. A Concise History of Mexico. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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    Clear, concise, and comprehensive, Hamnett’s book is an excellent overview of Mexican history from precontact to the present.

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  • Knight, Alan. Mexico: The Colonial Era. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    A clear and engaging introduction to Mexico in the colonial period. Among surveys of Mexican history, this book stands out for the quality of its citations, making it especially useful to an academic reader.

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  • Meyer, Michael C., William L. Sherman, and Susan M. Deeds. The Course of Mexican History. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Perhaps the best survey of Mexican history from the pre-Columbian period to the 20th century. Often assigned as a college textbook, The Course of Mexican History also serves well as a reference work.

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Reference Works

Both Latin Americanists and other students of Atlantic history find reference works indispensable when studying Mexico. Mexican independence created significant discontinuities in place names, administrative boundaries, and civic systems. Contemporary Mexico is not geographically coterminous with the early republic or with the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which creates complex research problems for those wishing to study areas that now belong to the United States or to Central American nations. For all of these reasons, guides to historical political geography are especially useful. Studies in colonial history also require an institutional knowledge of the church, legal institutions, and viceregal administrative practices. Finally, though biographical dictionaries are less complete and less abundant for Mexico than for Anglophone countries, those that do exist are a boon to historians. Readers seeking scholarly introductions to topics in Mexican history will do well to consult Bethell 1984–1989, Cosío Villegas 2000, and Carrasco 2001. In seeking discrete pieces of biographical and institutional information, Diccionario Porrúa is highly recommended. The best historical atlases are A Guide to the Historical Geography of New Spain (Gerhard 1993) and Atlas histórico de México (Florescano and Eissa 2008). To resolve legal, jurisdictional, and administrative questions, readers should again consult Gerhard 1993, as well as Vázquez-Gómez 2007 and Cutter 1995.

  • Bethell, Leslie, ed. Cambridge History of Latin America. Vols. 1–3. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984–1989.

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    Volumes 1 through 3 of this eleven-volume collection treat Latin America in the colonial period and the 19th century. Readers will find herein both articles on Mexico itself and articles providing transregional comparisons and explorations of Atlantic themes.

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  • Carrasco, Davíd, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Central America. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    This scholarly three-volume work provides articles on indigenous history, some of which are narrative, others ethnographic, and others thematic. Each is accompanied by a valuable (and often annotated) bibliography

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  • Cosío Villegas, Daniel, ed. Historia general de México: Versión 2000. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2000.

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    This large collection of articles by noted historians is organized both chronologically and thematically. These are full-length articles (some verging on brief monographs), rather than mere reference entries. Much attention is given to Atlantic themes.

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  • Cutter, Charles R. The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain, 1700–1810. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.

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    Though chiefly concerned with the areas of New Spain later absorbed by the United States, this book provides vital legal knowledge for understanding the relationships of regional governance to the viceroyalty and crown throughout New Spain.

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  • Diccionario Porrúa de historia, biografía, y geografía de México. 5th ed. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1995.

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    A standard reference work for Mexican historians that has not yet been superseded by available online sources.

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  • Florescano, Enrique, and Francisco Eissa. Atlas histórico de México. Mexico City: Aguilar, 2008.

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    This collection of maps, illustrations, and historical explanations is designed for a general audience but is also highly useful to historians.

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  • Gerhard, Peter. A Guide to the Historical Geography of New Spain. Rev. ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

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    This book is a guide to both geography and institutions. It is an indispensable resource for understanding Mexican jurisdictions, juridical and administrative hierarchies, and the origins of political organs.

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  • Vázquez-Gómez, Juana. Diccionario de gobernantes y héroes nacionales de México, 1325–2006. Mexico City: Editorial Patria, 2007.

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    Provides introductions to each historical period and entries for offices, institutions, and individuals. An English edition is available from Greenwood Press (1997).

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The Conquest

The modern Anglophone historiography of the conquest begins with William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico (Prescott 2001; originally published 1843). This work began the project of reconstructing the events of the 16th century on the basis of primary sources. It is now of value primarily for historiographical reasons. Thomas 1993 is a well-founded 20th-century description of the same events informed by the intervening century of scholarship. The translation of indigenous-language primary sources has been one of the most significant developments in the field over the past half century. Miguel Leon-Portilla’s Visión de los vencidos was the first anthology of such sources in translation for a general audience. His work is now available in English in Leon-Portilla 2007, and his project has been continued in works such as Restall 1998 and Schwartz 2000. The reconstruction of indigenous experience has also been accompanied over time by a progressive dismantling of the so-called black legend of Spanish Conquest beginning with the works of Herbert Bolton in the early 20th century. This debate over the evils of Spanish rule emerged first among borderlands historians in the United States, and it influenced a variety of ethical reevaluations among Anglophone and Hispanophone scholars. Hanke 2002 (originally published 1949) opened an era of more open-minded deliberation over the history of Spaniards’ own engagement in the ethnical ambiguities of conquest. More recently, the inclusion of methods from other disciplines has played an important role in historical research. Todorov 1982, though much criticized by many historians, opened the way for the use of psychological analyses drawn from literary studies and critical theory. Clendinnen 2003 brings both literary analysis and an anthropological sensibility to the reexamination of well-known documents from the conquest period. In recent decades new scholarly discoveries have far outpaced their integration into popular understandings of the past. Restall 2003 does an excellent job of categorizing and debunking persistent misconceptions on the basis of the field’s extensive historiography.

  • Clendinnen, Inga. Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517–1570. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    This exploration of early colonization in the Yucatan reconstructs the encounter between Spanish and Mayan religions and modes of governance. The author employs existing archeological and ethnographic findings to reinterpret Indian confessions and Spanish correspondence. The work raises important questions about conversion, syncretism, and the limits of both.

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  • Hanke, Lewis. The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2002.

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    First published in 1949, this book initiated a long discussion of Spanish ethical and legal disputes over the legitimacy of conquest, slavery, and encomienda. Though the scope of this book is far larger than Mexico, it provides a valuable introduction to the language and logic of debates over the welfare of the Spanish crown’s New World subjects.

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  • Leon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Translated by Lysander Kemp. Boston: Beacon, 2007.

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    Originally published in 1959 under the title Visión de los vencidos. This work is a documentary history of conquest as seen through 16th-century Nahuatl sources.

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  • Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Mexico. New York: Modern Library, 2001.

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    This classic work, originally published in 1843, is the first attempt at a comprehensive account of the conquest based on primary research in the 16th-century sources. This edition provides a scholarly introduction by noted Nahua historian James Lockhart.

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  • Restall, Matthew. Maya Conquistador. Boston: Beacon, 1998.

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    Based on the author’s translation of Maya documents, this work reconstructs an understanding of the Spanish Empire from the perspective of the crown’s indigenous clients in the Yucatan.

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  • Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    This volume takes stock of many of the changes in scholarly understandings of the conquest since midcentury. Restall categorizes common errors in popular understanding of the Spanish Conquest that often persist despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The book seeks to dispel notions of the conquest as instantaneous, inevitable, complete, and necessarily attributable to Spanish cultural, technological, or institutional superiority.

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  • Schwartz, Stuart B., ed. Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.

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    This anthology of translated Spanish and Nahua sources is presented with extensive critical introductions by the editor. Widely assigned as a student reader, the book remains a valuable resource for all readers familiarizing themselves with the available documentation on the conquest.

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  • Thomas, Hugh. Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés, and the Fall of Old Mexico. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

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    This narrative history of the conquest is written in a popular style but rests on a large body of research. It is perhaps the most comprehensive and readable English-language treatment of the initial phase of Spanish expansion into Mexico.

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  • Todorov, Tzvetan. La conquête de l’Amérique: La question de l’autre. Paris: Seuil, 1982.

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    This work has been both a target of criticism and a touchstone of inspiration for historians. Todorov, coming from the field of literary studies, privileges European modes of symbolic communication as the key to understanding the conquest. Todorov is one of several scholars from outside the field who influenced the modes of analysis since the 1980s sometimes referred to as the “literary turn.” The work is also widely available in English as The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).

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Biological Exchange

In the second half of the 20th century, advances in population studies, world-systems theory, and transatlantic studies led to a profound reevaluation of the relative importance of conscious versus unconscious historical forces in the 16th century. Many historians now consider the transmission of disease and the exchange of agricultural goods between the Americas and Eurasia to be the most influential forces in early modern history.

Epidemic Disease

The 16th-century demographic collapse created by the introduction of Old World diseases into the Americas was one of the most powerful forces to shape colonial Mexican society. Since the groundbreaking mid-20th-century research of Sherburne Cook and Woodrow Borah, one strand of scholarship has grappled with the difficult projected of determining populations in the colonial and precolonial periods. Though population estimates have been debated extensively over the past half century, the basic fact of overwhelming population collapse is no longer in doubt. In addition to establishing rates of decline and recovery, historians have considered many of the social implications. Indian population loss resulted in a shrinking source of labor and tax revenue. These consequences have been linked to the policies of reducción and congregación, which sought to reconstitute a smaller number of indigenous population centers. The psychological and cultural consequences of epidemic disease have also attracted considerable research, as historians have considered the effect of fear and loss on religious conversion, cultural continuity, and indigenous governance. Cook and Borah’s research on colonial demography (Cook and Borah 1960) revealed epidemic disease as the single most important force in 16th-century Mexican history. Both scholars extended and revisited their findings in the decades that followed (see Borah 1991 and Cook 1998). The demographic collapse is the subject of continuing historical inquiry, and is revisited on a larger scale in Crosby 1991. Much of the past scholarship has been ably synthesized in Sánchez-Albornoz 1984. Scholars such as Daniel Reff (see Reff 2005) have turned our attention to the cultural responses to epidemic disease.

  • Borah, Woodrow. “Epidemics in the Americas: Major Issues and Future Research.” Latin American Population History Bulletin 19 (Spring 1991): 2–13.

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    Outlines the status of research on demographic decline and recovery in the colonial Americas. Offers a useful review of the undertaking in the thirty years since the first Cook-Borah publications.

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  • Cook, Noble David. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    This book synthesize much of the accumulated research on New World epidemics produced in the preceding decades. Cook describes the pathways and consequences of initial contagion from Spain to the Caribbean to Mexico.

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  • Cook, Sherburne F., and Woodrow Borah. The Indian Population of Central Mexico, 1531–1610. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960.

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    This transformative work on the effects of New World diseases applied systematic quantitative methods to the question of 16th-century epidemics in Mexico. The data are routinely employed in more recent studies.

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  • Crosby, Alfred W. “Infectious Disease and the Demography of the Atlantic Peoples.” Journal of World History 2 (1991): 119–133.

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    This article takes previous findings on 16th-century demographic collapse in Latin America and places them in a broader hemispheric and Atlantic context.

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  • Reff, Daniel T. Plagues, Priests, and Demons: Sacred Narratives and the Rise of Christianity in the Old World and the New. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Reff considers the similarities between the social conditions of epidemic disease and Christian evangelization in the late Roman Empire and 16th-century Mexico. The project is transatlantic both in its comparative approach and in its treatment of biological and cultural contact between Europe and Mexico.

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  • Sánchez-Albornoz, Nicolás. “The Population of Colonial Spanish America.” In Cambridge History of Latin America. Vol. 2. Edited by Leslie Bethell, 3–36. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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    An excellent overview of preceding scholarship on demographic decline and recovery in the colonial period throughout the Americas. Also addresses African slavery and transatlantic immigration in relation to population recovery.

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Agriculture and Domesticated Animals

The 16th-century exchange of plants and animals between the Eastern and Western hemispheres radically transformed the diet, agriculture, and subsistence technologies of most of the world. Crops from Mexico found markets abroad, and European domesticated animals revolutionized Mexican diet and labor practices as they came to be used for meat, transport, draft, and warfare. Mexican crops such as maize and tomatoes were appropriated into European and African agriculture, while other crops such as cacao and cochineal were produced in Mexico for export markets. Crops such as sugar, cotton, and wheat were brought to Mexico by Spaniards, becoming an important element of the agricultural economy. The introduction of the horse to New Spain at times provided a decisive military advantage to Spaniards. However, horses soon dispersed beyond the bounds of the viceroyalty, becoming an important military asset for nomadic peoples on the Spanish frontier. Sheep and cattle ranching (both imports from Spain) had enormous economic, environmental, and social consequences in Mexico. Spanish ranching often threatened indigenous lands, and the grazing of sheep and cattle transformed the flora of much of Mexico. Research into the exchange of plants and animals across the Atlantic has generally given rise to writings treating the largest scales of Atlantic history. Crosby 2003 is such a book. However, regional studies in Mexico have also offered important findings on the impact of cattle, sheep, and horses in new ecological and social environments. Three works offered here, Hoyo 1987, Radding 1997, and Melville 1994, show us the ways that European animals transformed both the environment and the human inhabitants of Mexico.

  • Crosby, Alfred W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

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    This work, first published in 1972, has provided the foundation and vocabulary for several decades of discussions about the consequences of the encounter between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The exchange of crops, domesticated animals, and diseases are the focus of this book. Though it treats the Atlantic world as a whole, the book has been very important in the development of Mexican colonial studies.

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  • Hoyo, Eugenio del. Señores de ganado: Nuevo Reino de León, siglo XVII. Monterrey, Mexico: Gobierno del Estado, AGENL, 1987.

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    Del Hoyo describes the origins and development of sheep and cattle ranching in colonial Nuevo León. This book considers the transformation of land and human subsistence in the region. The practices of the settlers are explained in relation to those of the Spanish Meseta.

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  • Melville, Elinor G. K. A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    This regional study of central Mexico’s Valle del Mezquital reconstructs the long-term environmental effects of Spanish sheep ranching. It describes the consequent declines in agricultural productivity and shift in landholding patterns from small scale to large scale and from Indian to Spanish.

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  • Radding, Cynthia. Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700–1850. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

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    Radding reconstructs historical conditions in the large northern region of New Spain most affected by the introduction of horse and cattle. This work describes the mobility and social fluidity of a region in which European animals transformed subsistence, warfare, and ethnic boundaries.

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Ibero-Indian Society

Beginning with Charles Gibson in the mid-20th century, historians have increasingly viewed colonial New Spain as its own distinctive society—neither wholly Spanish nor wholly indigenous. This approach to Mexican history now constitutes a significant subfield, from which a small number of landmark studies are noted here. Mexico’s Indian communities (pueblos de indios) are now more frequently interpreted as participants in Iberian legal, political, and religious culture who also maintained distinctive indigenous traditions. Likewise, attention to the indigenous influences on colonial economic systems, military organizations, and frontier settlements has grown. Thus, Indian communities may now be explored as sites of transcultural interaction within a larger Atlantic context. The works of Charles Gibson (see Gibson 1952, Gibson 1964) revolutionized historical understandings of colonial Mexico. For the first time, historians began to conceive of indigenous societies as persistent and coherent elements within the larger Spanish Empire. Gibson’s rigorous use of Spanish-language documents revealed previously invisible continuities between pre- and postconquest civilization A large number of works follow in the Gibsonian tradition—notably Farriss 1984. Though the Gibsonian approach was first directed at the population centers of New Spain, works such as Deeds 2003 have reapplied it to regions on the fringes of Mesoamerican and early colonial society. Gibson’s revolution was conceptual. However, it was followed by a vital transformation in methods. Lockhart 1992 began the systematic exploitation of indigenous-language sources to further the reconstruction of native societies within the legal and political order of the Spanish Empire. Lockhart’s approach has shaped a generation of scholars from UCLA. Kevin Terraciano (see Terraciano 2001) has brought this approach to regions outside the Nahua heartland. Most of these studies have focused on the early colonial period. Chance and Taylor 1985 is one of the works most influential in attempting to bridge the gap between reconstructions of colonial indigenous society and the anthropological present.

  • Chance, John K., and William B. Taylor. “Cofradías and Cargos: An Historical Perspective on the Mesoamerican Civil-Religious Hierarchy.” American Ethnologist 12 (1985): 1–26.

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    This article began a reassessment of the history of local indigenous institutional life in Mexico. This comparative study of communities in Jalisco and Oaxaca suggests that the evolution of indigenous institutions within Hispanic society continued in the post-independence period.

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  • Deeds, Susan M. Defiance and Deference in Mexico’s Colonial North: Indians under Spanish Rule in Nueva Vizcaya. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

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    This work demonstrates that even interior regions on the extreme periphery of New Spain were shaped in unpredictable ways through their contact with the Atlantic world. This study of Nueva Vizcaya describes Indian adaptation and ethnogenesis in a region affected by warfare, mining, ranching, and missionary activity.

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  • Farriss, Nancy M. Maya Society under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.

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    Describes the persistence and evolution of Mayan culture within the Spanish Empire. The book considers the syncretism between Christianity and indigenous religion, the integration of Maya social hierarchies, and the effects of transatlantic trade and imperial administration on local economies, land tenure, and leadership.

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  • Gibson, Charles. Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1952.

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    Here Gibson reconstructs the position of Spain’s most important ally and partner in the settlement and governance of New Spain. This work opened the way to understanding indigenous subpolities within the Spanish Empire. Subsequent studies have vastly expanded our understanding of Tlaxcala beyond the 16th century, but Gibson’s work remains vitally important to the field.

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  • Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519–1810. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964.

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    This landmark study of Nahua society changed the direction of research on the indigenous societies of Mexico. Gibson revealed a social and political environment at the crossroads of European and indigenous worlds. This remains an indispensable source.

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  • Lockhart, James. The Nahuas after Spanish Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

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    This extensive study of Nahua society in the colonial period spurred a renaissance of indigenous-language research. Informed by the work of Gibson, Lockhart’s close linguistic and ethnohistorical methods yield crucial knowledge of Nahua social and political organization. This is a detailed archival study of the fusion between Spanish and Nahua societies.

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  • Terraciano, Kevin. The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca: Ñudzahui History, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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    Heavily informed by indigenous language documents, this work describes the social order of the Mixtecs, their cultural relationship to Nahuas, and their place within colonial society. This work both recovers social-historical knowledge of preconquest society and reconstructs the coevolution of the Ibero-Mixtec society of Oaxaca.

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Mexico and the African Diaspora

West African slaves were imported to Mexico throughout the colonial era. Yet African slavery was never so central to the Mexican economy as it was to Latin America’s plantation colonies. Slavery was formally abolished in 1829, though its importance in the economy and culture had by then greatly diminished. Most slaves entered New Spain through Veracruz. In lowland regions of both the Gulf and Pacific coasts, African slaves labored in cash-crop plantations akin to those in the circum-Caribbean zone. Elsewhere in New Spain, many slaves (whose expense to owners often exceeded that of other laborers) worked as foremen, miners, and domestic servants. Free blacks and mulattos often became tradesmen and wage laborers in port cities. They also worked in overland transport and communications as muleteers. Mulatto soldiers and militiamen are common in the history of the same regions. Though many works address the African diaspora at a larger scale, those presented here focus exclusively on Mexico. Most current scholars in the field of Afro-Mexico acknowledge the foundational role of Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán’s La población negra de México (Aguirre Beltrán 1992). Midcentury scholarship on Africans in the Americas rarely focused on Mexico. A notable exception is Palmer 1976. The 1980s saw a renewal of interest in the field among Anglophone and Mexican historians (see Roldán, et al. 1982). The past decade has witnessed an explosion of important new works on Afro-Mexico, propelled in part by the growing interest in free Africans in colonial Latin America. Several scholars have reconstructed black corporate and institutional life, among them Nicole von Germeten (see Germeten 2006) and Ben Vinson (see Vinson 2001). Research has continued in the coastal zones most commonly associated with African labor (ports and tropical agriculture), but with a new attention to the relationship between slave and free populations (Carroll 2001; Restall 2009). Bennett 2003 and Velázquez Gutierrez 2006 address the Afro-Mexican populations of Mexico City as a coherent part of this colonial Atlantic World.

  • Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. Obra antropológica. Vol. II, La población negra de México: Estudio etnohistórico. Jalapa, Mexico: Universidad Veracruzana, 1992.

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    Though originally published in 1946, this book remains an important resource for studies of Mexicans of African ancestry. It presents and analyzes a large body of demographic data from the colonial period and considers racial categorization, intermarriage, self-representation, and connections between race and class. The data continue to be used in contemporary scholarship.

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  • Bennett, Herman L. Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    This study of Africans in New Spain focuses on urban communities, marriage, and law. It makes use of marriage petitions and Inquisition cases to understand the Afro-Creole community and its members’ strategic engagement with colonial institutions. The project demonstrates that even far from the plantation economies of the circum-Caribbean, black enclaves remained linked to Africa on one hand and to Spain on the other.

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  • Carroll, Patrick J. Blacks in Colonial Veracruz: Race, Ethnicity, and Regional Development. 2d ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.

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    This regional study traces the position of enslaved and free blacks throughout the colonial period. It employs substantial demographic research to answer questions about economics, intermarriage, and manumission. Carroll considers how changes in the status of Indians and the changing scale of African slavery influenced the status of free blacks.

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  • Germeten, Nicole von. Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-Mexicans. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

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    This is an archival study of black sodalities in colonial Mexico. Based on extensive archival research, this monograph considers the position of black and mixed-race Mexicans in corporate society. It addresses the explicit functions of confraternities in community religious life as well as their relationship to social mobility and marriage patterns.

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  • Palmer, Colin A. Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570–1650. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976.

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    Both a legal and social history of slavery, this work addresses the slave trade, the varieties of slave labor, legal redress afforded blacks, marriage practices, and social status. The work draws on contracts, population records, and Inquisition records to provide both individual and aggregated historical reconstructions.

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  • Restall, Matthew. The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

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    This study of Afro-Yucatecans addresses both slave and free populations, drawing upon Spanish and Maya sources. The author reconstructs a third cultural and civic sphere that existed between Indian and Spanish worlds. The book addresses economic activity, religion, marriage, and military service.

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  • Roldán, Gerardo Adam, Maricela Hernández Reyes, and Luisa Ortíz Castro. La esclavitud en la Nueva España siglo XVI. Mexico City: Instituto de Estudios y Documentos Históricos, 1982.

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    This work contains both analytical and documentary sections. It provides a legal history of slavery in New Spain, considering formal slavery in relation to other forms of labor exploitation. Both Indian and African slavery are treated here, as are the racial thought and ethical debates surrounding slavery and the slave trade.

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  • Velázquez Gutierrez, María Elisa. Mujeres de origen africáno en la capital novohispana, siglos XVII y XVIII. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2006.

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    This study of black women in Mexico City considers both the concrete social and economic roles of Afro-Mexican women and the development of ideas about race from the late Habsburg to late Bourbon period. The work is truly Atlantic in scope, in that it considers both African and Spanish ideas about ethnicity and servitude in the Old World and New.

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  • Vinson, Ben, III. Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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    The membership, institutional structures, and routine practices of the free black militias are reconstructed here on the basis of extensive data from military and civil records. The book addresses the militias in relation to their military function, but also in relation to the social and economic status of their members.

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Gender and Women’s History

Though studies of gender and women’s history in Mexico are numerous, those that relate directly to the field of Atlantic studies are less common. Doña Marina is justly considered the first woman to play an important and documented role in transatlantic history. Townsend 2006 explores the position of Doña Marina at the confluence of two cultural universes. Both the widespread literacy of women in religious orders and the organizations’ international identities make them an important object of inquiry. The 17th-century writings of Juana Inez de la Cruz 1997(Poems, Protest and a Dream) are perhaps the richest extant intellectual production of a colonial woman in Mexico. The dialogues that connected women’s religious life in Mexico to Europe are also revealed in Chowning 2006, Lavrin 1999, and in the anthology of primary sources Lavrin and Loreto López 2006. Arrom 1985 and Stern 1995 are systematic social histories that give considerable attention to the subpopulations of colonial women whose lives were linked to the Atlantic world through urban society. Their work cuts across multiple class environments. Calderón de la Barca 1982 provides 19th-century commentary on gender, culture, and politics through the eyes of international elites.

  • Arrom, Silvia Maria. The Women of Mexico City, 1790–1857. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985.

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    This is, in many senses, a local study, but it is one that touches upon broader issues in the legal regime of Atlantic societies. Arrom reconstructs the daily lives of urban women and their place within the legal and commercial culture of early republican Mexico.

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  • Calderón de la Barca, Frances. Life in Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

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    This rich 19th-century account of life in Mexico City captures the intersection of Atlantic perspectives in the city. Its author, a Scottish immigrant to the United States and wife of a Spanish diplomat, brought a keen international eye to events in Mexico City during the 1830s.

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  • Chowning, Margaret. Rebellious Nuns: The Troubled History of a Mexican Convent, 1752–1863. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    This microhistory of a convent in San Miguel el Grande demonstrates the extent to which the internal politics of a Mexican religious community engaged the varied political and religious disputes of the larger Catholic world.

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  • Juana Inéz de la Cruz. Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. New York: Penguin, 1997.

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    The writings of 17th-century Carmelite nun and polymath Sor Juana have attracted extensive attention from scholars in literature, history, and gender studies. This widely assigned anthology of her writings in English translation has the benefit of a substantial introduction as well as notes that are both analytic and contextualizing.

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  • Lavrin, Asunción. “Indian Brides of Christ: Creating New Spaces for Indigenous Women in New Spain.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 15.2 (Summer 1999): 225–260.

    DOI: 10.1525/msem.1999.15.2.03a00020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article describes the admission of Indian women into the monastic orders in the 18th century. Both the international organization of the orders and the debate’s invocation of broader theological arguments in the European tradition create interesting links between the local and the transatlantic.

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  • Lavrin, Asunción, and Rosalva Loreto López, eds. Diálogos espirituales: Manuscritos femeninos hispanoamericanos, siglos XVI–XIX. Puebla, Mexico: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Universidad de las Americas, 2006.

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    This collection of primary-source documents and scholarly analysis grants access to a wide variety of women’s experience both inside and outside of cloistered communities. Much of the included material demonstrates the ongoing dialogues between conventual communities in the Americas and theologians in Europe.

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  • Stern, Steve J. The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

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    This work is based on regional studies and crosses most boundaries of caste and class. It is valuable to Atlantic studies in that it considers both the European and indigenous roots of Mexican gender culture.

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  • Townsend, Camilla. Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

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    The figure of Cortés’s indigenous advisor, Doña Marina, has been explored in a number of academic works. This recent monograph shows the influence of the past generation’s in interest in Indian agency and cultural mediation.

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Religion

Robert Ricard’s Spiritual Conquest (Ricard 1966) has provided both a foundational treatment of the Mexico’s conversion to Christianity and the source of many subsequent debates. The debates have involved questions of Indian agency, the degree of syncretism between indigenous religion and European Christianity, and attempts to rehistoricize conversion by revisiting the culture of early modern Christianity in Europe. Phelan 1970 and Zavala 1965 capture the sense of utopian possibility that drove 16th-century missionaries. Clendinnen 1990, among others, has brought an anthropological eye to the reconstruction of early Christian experience in Mexico. The later colonial period was at one time neglected relative to 16th-century studies. However, late-20th-century scholarship in the field has been intense and sustained. Much of this scholarship has focused on the reconstruction of religious experience as expressed through practice more than doctrine. Devotional sites and the cult of saints (see Greer and Bilinkoff 2003) as well as the social-historical revelations of Inquisition records figure prominently in several studies, such as Alberro 1988. Taylor 1996 and Taylor 1987 focus on the evolution of religious devotions and on the social relationships expressed through the operations of local religious communities. Voekel 2002 reconsiders the late Bourbon and early republican period as a moment of renewed intellectual encounters between Mexican Catholicism and new strains of Enlightenment-era thought in Europe.

  • Alberro, Solange. Inquisition et societé au Mexique, 1571–1700. Mexico City: Centre D’Etudes Mexicaines et Centramericaines, 1988.

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    Inquisition studies have become a major source of social-historical knowledge in Mexican history (beginning with Richard Greenleaf’s work in the 1960s). Alberro’s study demonstrates the ways in which the Inquisition mediated cultural anxieties at the points of contact between Christian, Jewish, West African and Indian cultures. Originally published in French (1988).

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  • Clendinnen, Inga. “Ways to the Sacred: Reconstructing ‘Religion’ in Sixteenth-Century Mexico.” History and Anthropology 5 (1990): 105–141.

    DOI: 10.1080/02757206.1990.9960810Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores 16th-century missionization and conversion through practice, rather than doctrine. This article considers the functional integration of Catholic and indigenous religious behavior.

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  • Greer, Allan, and Jodi Bilinkoff, eds. Colonial Saints: Discovering the Holy in the Americas, 1500–1800. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    This collection of essays on the cultural meanings of the cult of saints in the Americas is both hemispheric and transatlantic in approach. Five of the book’s fourteen articles address devotions and hagiographies in Mexico.

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  • Phelan, John Leddy. The Millennial Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.

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    Reveals early Franciscan attempts to understand the conversion of Mexico as a reenactment of the miracles of the early Church. Here we see that Mendieta wished to cultivate a separate Indian spiritual community in preparation for the millennium.

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  • Ricard, Robert. The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico: An Essay on the Apostolate and Evangelizing Methods of the Mendicant Orders in New Spain, 1523–1572. Translated by Lesley Byrd Simpson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.

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    This foundational study of Catholic evangelism in colonial Mexico (first published in French in 1933) remains a useful reference for the 16th century. Subsequent generations have given greater weight to indigenous agency in the creation of Christian communities. Nonetheless, this early work is highly attentive to New Spain as a distinct cultural environment, at once Christian and indigenous.

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  • Taylor, William B. “The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion.” American Ethnologist 14 (1987): 9–33.

    DOI: 10.1525/ae.1987.14.1.02a00020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates the merits of the arguments in longstanding debates over the relationship between devotional sites and group political identification as indigenous, Creole, or peninsular.

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  • Taylor, William B. Magistrates of the Sacred: Priests and Parishioners in Eighteenth-Century Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.

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    This exhaustive study of local religious life is both microscopic and macroscopic. It considers the relationship between the authority and legitimacy of local clerics, the greater church, and the colonial state. The local converges with the national and international as Taylor treats both the changing Bourbon state and the roots of independence.

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  • Voekel, Pamela. Alone Before God: The Religious Origins of Modernity in Mexico. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

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    A comparative study of changing religious culture in late Bourbon Mexico City and Veracruz. This book describes the tensions and transformations created by two distinct moments or tendencies in transatlantic Catholicism. Voekel contrasts “Baroque Catholicism” (characterized by corporate life and public display) with “Enlightened Catholicism” (characterized by individual and interior forms of religious observance).

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  • Zavala, Silvio. Recuerdo de Vasco de Quiroga. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1965.

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    An intellectual history of Vasco de Quiroga’s project of creating a community modeled on Thomas More’s Utopia among the Tarascans of Michoacán.

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Economic History

Mid-20th-century scholarship generally periodized and characterized Mexican economic history as follows: a 16th century driven by mining wealth, a 17th-century economic decline, an 18th-century demographic and economic recovery, and an early-19th-century collapse of long-distance commerce followed by a late-19th-century reintegration into the international economy under the Porfiriato. These generalizations have been the subject of debate and substantial revision in recent decades but continue to structure historical discussions. Two breakthrough works on economic history from the 1970s were rooted in the extensive extant mining records of the colonial period: Bakewell 1971 and Brading 1971. Mercantile networks have afforded similar opportunities to scholars in subsequent decades, as seen in Hassig 1985 and Hoberman 1991. Bourbon reform efforts created centralized documentation and serial data for understanding economic history through trade, taxation, and monopoly concessions. Garner and Stefanou 1993 and Florescano and Menegus 2000 have exploited the opportunities this documentation affords. The literature on labor and the development of Spanish estates is vast, though it frequently views Mexico in isolated (rather than Atlantic) terms. Notable among efforts to place labor and estates in a broader context are Mentz 1999 and Riley 1973.

  • Bakewell, P. J. Silver Mining and Society in Colonial Mexico: Zacatecas, 1546–1700. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511572692Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This study of Zacatecas demonstrates the complex connections between the local and transatlantic scales of economic activity. This is a microscopic examination of a frontier boom town, but one that is linked to worldwide markets for mercury, silver, and trade goods. The book considers and challenges earlier periodizations for mining productivity and related growth cycles.

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  • Brading, D. A. Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

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    This study of 18th-century economics and politics describes forces of internal economic development and their interaction with a transatlantic market. Brading perceives a struggle for control of Mexican resources between domestic elites and peninsular merchants and bureaucrats.

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  • Florescano, Enrique, and Margarita Menegus. “La época de las reformas borbónicas y el crecimiento económico (1750–1808).” In Historia general de México: Versión 2000. Edited by Daniel Cosío Villegas, 363–430. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2000.

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    The relationship between economic and administrative change in the late Bourbon period has produced an enormous amount of scholarship. Florescano and Menegus’s article presents an excellent digest of previous research as well as a significant amount of statistical data.

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  • Garner, Richard L., with Spiro E. Stefanou. Economic Growth and Change in Bourbon Mexico. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993.

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    Based in quantitative research and written in dialogue with earlier works by Brading and Coatsworth, this book’s economic analysis connects the local viceregal and transatlantic scales. It describes the forces behind growth in agriculture, mining, and trade, and the related political struggles between Creole and peninsular elites.

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  • Hassig, Ross. Trade, Tribute, and Transportation: The Sixteenth-Century Political Economy of the Valley of Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

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    Relying on historical, anthropological, and archeological findings, this book describes the evolution the Valley of Mexico’s indigenous economy in the new context of a larger Spanish colonial political economy.

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  • Hoberman, Louisa Schell. Mexico’s Merchant Elite, 1590–1660. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991.

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    A truly transatlantic study of the Mexican colonial economy. Hoberman analyzes domestic agriculture, mining, and trade in relation to the colonial trade regime and imperial administration. The work also describes the social and family networks created through tactical alliances between elites in different sectors of the economy.

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  • Mentz, Brígida von. Trabajo, sujeción y libertad en el centro de la Nueva España: Esclavos, aprendices, campesinos y operarios manufactureros, siglos XVI a XVIII. Mexico City: CIESAS, 1999.

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    This collection of essays represents an Atlantic approach, both in its themes and its cross-cultural comparisons. The book addresses both Indian and African labor in Mexico, drawing comparisons and contrasts with conditions in Europe and Anglo-America.

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  • Riley, G. Michael. Fernando Cortes and the Marquesado in Morelos, 1522–1547: A Case Study in the Socioeconomic Development of Sixteenth-Century Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1973.

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    This study of the Cortés’s estate in Morelos employs extensive economic data to describe the integration of an indigenous population into a European tributary state. It demonstrates the persistence of indigenous social organizations even as tributary demands produced a shift toward commodity production

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Cities

The history of urban elites in Mexico has always been linked to transatlantic cultures of governance, aesthetics, education, and consumption. The history of humbler urban dwellers is also a part of the story of the Atlantic world. Mexico’s cities were the crucible for the hereditary and social integration of Europeans, Indians, and Africans. Several urban studies of Mexico are attentive to transatlantic influences. Crouch, et al. 1982 and Early 2004 focus on the origins of colonial architecture and city planning; Kagan and Marías 2000 and Reese 2002 explore urban spaces, and representations of them, as the key to reconstructing a social order. While colonial studies typically find the antecedents of urban plans in Spain and pre-Columbian traditions, Johns 1997 and Fernández Christleib 2000 explore the broad international forces of neoclassicism and cosmopolitanism.

  • Crouch, Dora P., Danile J. Garr, and Axel I. Mundigo. Spanish City Planning in North America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982.

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    Though focused on the regions of the Spanish Empire that passed into the hands of the United States, this work remains highly useful to students of greater New Spain in an Atlantic context. It compares Spanish and Anglo-American urban traditions and their North American sites of historical convergence.

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  • Early, James. Presidio, Mission, and Pueblo: Spanish Architecture and Urbanism in the United States. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2004.

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    A study of colonial Mexico’s northernmost colonial spaces though architecture. This book focuses upon the functional application of European architectural forms to the frontier environment. This is a useful complement to urban studies that have emphasized the great metropolitan centers.

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  • Fernández Christlieb, Federico. Europa y el urbanismo neoclásico en la ciudad de México: Antecedentes y esplendores. Mexico City: Plaza y Valdés, 2000.

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    This monograph approaches Mexico City’s planning and architecture as part of the European tradition. The work addresses urban aesthetics and historical memory from the late 18th to early 20th century.

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  • Johns, Michael. The City of Mexico in the Age of Díaz. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

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    Addresses Mexico City as a point of convergence between domestic indigenous migration to urban areas and international immigration. The book examines the city’s elite cosmopolitanism linking Mexico to Europe and the United States. The late-19th-century city may be examined in this way as part of a new Atlantic environment.

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  • Kagan, Richard L., with Fernando Marías. Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493–1793. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.

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    Based on visual record produced by European and indigenous hands, this work considers how communities were understood and communicated by members and outsiders. The work’s geographical scope is broad, but considerable attention is given to New Spain—especially Mexico City.

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  • Reese, Carol McMichael. “The Urban Development of Mexico City, 1850–1930.” In Planning Latin America’s Capital Cities, 1850–1950. Edited by Arturo Almandoz, 139–169. London: Routledge, 2002.

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    A history of Mexico City placed in both a hemispheric and transatlantic context. Reese describes the expanding capital city as a projection of the nation’s historical self-awareness as both European and indigenous and as part of an expanding international industrial economy.

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Migration and Social Networks

Family networks have always been vital to the maintenance of political and economic capital in Mexico. Based both on temporary migration and permanent immigration, family networks of merchants and political elites joined Mexico to Europe (as well as the rest of the Americas) during the colonial period, and to the world’s wealthier economies in the modern period. High-level political and clerical appointments were orchestrated through the Spanish court. Consequently, the most powerful family networks connected individuals throughout Mexico to the metropolitan elites of Mexico City and patrons in Spain. Creole nationalism and postindependence Spanish expulsions may be read as a disruption of transatlantic ties, but should also be read within a broader context of normative international networking. Numerous studies of the later Porfirian period have explored the growing cosmopolitanism of Mexico City. There, English, German, and French, and U.S. expatriates and immigrants created a broader web of elite social connections between Mexican elites and those of the greater Atlantic world. The social networks and marriage practice of elites have been treated by Schwaller and Mathers 1990 and by Balmori, et al. 1984. A much broader cross-section of society is treated in Seed 1988. Readers should also consult the entries in this article on Ibero-Indian Society and Mexico and the African Diaspora for studies of related issues in those populations. Several national and international conflicts have created or threatened international family and social networks. Hansen and Douglas 1987 addresses international political and cultural affinities that affected migration in times of war. Toro 1993 reveals much about Jewish family networks as recovered through Inquisition records, and Sims 1990 reveals the wide-ranging effects of efforts to extirpate Spanish social and political networks in the early years of independence.

  • Balmori, Diana, Stuart F. Voss, and Miles Wortman. Notable Family Networks in Latin America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

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    This collection of regional studies emphasizes the political and economic functions of family networks in the colonial and modern periods. Stuart Voss’s “Northwest Mexico” describes the networks linking the northern frontier to the peninsula through both direct migration and through Mexico City.

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  • Hansen, Taylor, and Lawrence Douglas. “Voluntarios extranjeros en los ejércitos liberales mexicanos, 1854–1867.” Historia Mexicana 37 (1987): 205–237.

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    Contributes to and references a body of literature on international troops who fought on all sides of the War of Reform and French Intervention. Demonstrates that military networks linked Europe, the United States, and Mexico.

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  • Schwaller, John Frederick, and Constance Mathers. “A Trans-Atlantic Hispanic Family: The Mota Clan of Burgos and Mexico City.” Sixteenth Century Journal 21 (1990): 411–436.

    DOI: 10.2307/2540277Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article presents a systematic study of the Mota family’s transatlantic networks. It demonstrates the functions of marriage alliances, trade, and politics linking Iberia to the colony.

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  • Seed, Patricia. To Love, Honor and Obey in Colonial Mexico: Conflicts over Marriage Choice, 1574–1821. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988.

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    This study of changing legal practices with respect to marriage choice focuses on the restriction of elective marriage in the 18th century. However, it is also a study with broader implications for those interested in studying the maintenance and disruption of social boundaries based on class, caste, and gender.

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  • Sims, Harold Dana. The Expulsion of Mexico’s Spaniards, 1821–1836. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 1990.

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    Many colonial studies have described transatlantic family networks connecting Spain and New Spain. This study describes the severing of transatlantic networks. Sims describes the enforcement of three waves of Spanish expulsion orders in the two decades following independence.

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  • Toro, Alfonso, ed. Los Judíos en la Nueva España: Documentos del siglo xvi correspondientes al ramo de inquisición. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultural Economica, 1993.

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    This collection of documents from Mexico’s Archivo General Nacional is drawn from the Inquisition courts. It describes family networks of Jews in New Spain and their tenuous position under the law. This collection is of special interest to readers exploring the Carvajal family and its members and connections in Europe, Mexico City, and the northern frontier.

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Intellectual History

Much of the intellectual history of Mexico is fundamentally transatlantic in approach. Works on the 16th century frequently engage the question of how Mexico was imagined and represented for the European reader. Much research on the colonial period considers the integration of the New World into existing European schemata of time, space, genealogy, and culture. Studies of transatlantic intellectual currents in the 18th century have focused on Enlightenment thought in reference to religion and politics, in the early 19th century on international republicanism and masonry, and in the late 19th century on liberalism, positivism, and cosmopolitanism. Hispanophone histories of literature and politics have routinely connected the aesthetics of romanticism to the politics of nationalism, international republicanism, and anticolonialism. In the case of Mexico, this loose association of cultural and intellectual forces has received considerable attention in the 19th century. Mexican historians have followed the Iberian (rather than the Anglophone) tradition in placing great emphasis on generational experience among intellectual elites. In this tradition, the long 19th century ends with the early upsets of the Mexican Revolution, which birthed the so-called generation of 1915, a cohort whose intellectual orientation was both national and international. Notable for their breadth of vision in treating the colonial encounter of indigenous and Spanish world views are Brading 1991 and Florescano 1987. Readers will find several works treating the intellectual communities of the colonial church in the article “Religion.” Treatments of the literary production of the traditionally defined intellectual community may be found in Foster 1994. There is a rich body of work on the interactions between political thought and political life in the 19th century. Martínez 2000 offers a useful overview. Hale 1989 explores the political implications of international currents in social-scientific thought for Mexico. The early international political currents of Freemasonry are treated in Weisberger, et al. 2002; late-19th-century political ideology in Knight 1985; and early-20th-century political-intellectual interactions in Krauze 1976.

  • Brading, D. A. The First America. The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492–1867. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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    A broad, complex, and well-written treatment of the crossing points between political and intellectual history. Somewhat opaque in its use of secondary scholarship, but transparent in its use of primary sources. This book serves as introduction, reference, and source guide.

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  • Florescano, Enrique. Memoria Mexicana: Ensayo sobre la reconstrucción del pasado: Época prehispánica—1821. Mexico City: Editorial Joaquín Mortiz, 1987.

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    This is both an intellectual history of European and indigenous notions of time and cosmology and a study of how ideas of about the past have been deployed as justifications for authority or rebellion in the present. It is also available in translation (Memory, Myth, and Time in Mexico: From the Aztecs to Independence, 1994)

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  • Foster, David William, ed. Mexican Literature: A History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

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    Methodologically, this collection of essays comes from outside the discipline of history. However, it offers much of value to the intellectual history of Mexico. For the reader of Atlantic history, the essays’ attention to the colonial period and to Mexico’s dialogue with international literary movements is valuable. The collection engages both nationalistic and cosmopolitan forces in intellectual history.

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  • Hale, Charles A. The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    Addresses the influences of international European and North American discourses of positivism, liberalism, and social Darwinism on Mexican politics in the Reform and Porfiriato.

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  • Knight. “El liberalismo mexicano desde la Reforma hasta la Revolución (una interpretación).” Historia Mexicana 35 (1985): 59–91.

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    A study of competing strains of liberalism that explains the eventual dominance of liberal political theory in late-19th- and early-20th-century Mexico.

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  • Krauze, Enrique. Caudillos culturales en la Revolución Mexicana. Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, 1976.

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    A study of the generation of intellectual and political leaders emerging from the violence of the Mexican Revolution. The study emphasizes both nationalistic and internationalist strains in Mexican political thought and leadership.

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  • Martínez, José Luis. “México en busca de su expresión.” In Historia general de México: Versión 2000. Edited by Daniel Cosío Villegas, 709–755. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2000.

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    A helpful introduction to the major intellectual forces in 19th-century Mexican political life. The approach is both biographical and chronological.

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  • Weisberger, R. William, Wallace McLeod, and S. Brent Morris. Freemasonry on Both Sides of the Atlantic: Essays Concerning the Craft in the British Isles, Europe, the United States, and Mexico. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

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    This collection of essays is not focused on Mexico, but it does devote a substantial section largely to the role of Freemasonry in 19th-century Mexican politics. Taken as a whole, the book may serve as a starting point for further research on Mexican Masonry in an international, North Atlantic context.

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Arts

Scholarship on Mexican visual culture has explored both purely aesthetic questions and issues of religion, culture, class, and caste. Devotional art has been one of the most important resources for exploring syncretism between European Catholicism and New World religion. Likewise, civil and ecclesiastical architecture has been employed by scholars to recapture the images of state and church projected from Spain and modified by local circumstance. A sharp distinction has often been made between the baroque aesthetic, which dominated colonial architecture and devotional art, and the academic style, associated with the Academy of San Carlos in 18th and 19th centuries. The use of the term “baroque” by Mexican historians is not identical to its use among European historians. Furthermore, more recent work has conceded the difficulties of sharply periodizing these forms. However, both in the case of the baroque and the academic style, we see a visual culture that was involved in an ongoing relationship between Europe and New World throughout the colonial and early republican periods. Readers will note that many of the best synthetic treatments of Atlantic themes in Mexican art are to be found in exhibition catalogues. George Kubler’s influential work (Kubler and Soria 1959 and Kubler 1972) continues to serve as a useful foundation for all students of Mexican art history. Gruzinski 1992 has exerted an important influence in the use of art as a means by which to explore representations of the cultural other. Works such as Pierce, et al. 2004, Cuadriello 2004, and Cuadriello 1999 are valuable resources in that they combine analysis with exposition of significant amounts of primary material in the form of photographic reproductions. The broader influence of scholars like John Elliott and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra has opened many paths of inquiry about the reciprocal influence of New World and Old. This is a theme in the history of art taken up ably in Brown 1998 and Farago 1995.

  • Brown, Jonathan, ed. The Word Made Image: Religion, Art, and Architecture in Spain and Spanish America, 1500–1600. Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1998.

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    This collection of essays on religion and art in the greater Spanish world addresses important Atlantic themes: evangelism, syncretism, the transatlantic ramifications of the Reformation, and cross-appropriation of American and European aesthetics.

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  • Caudriello, Jaime. Las glorias de la República de Tlaxcala; O, la conciencia como imagen sublime. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM, 2004.

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    Explores the use of art by the indigenous state of Tlaxcala for devotional, didactic, and legal purposes. This work demonstrates the use of indigenous painting within European representations, and its use in communicating status within the empire to observers in New Spain and Iberia.

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  • Caudriello, Jaime, ed. El origen del reino de la Nueva España, 1680–1750. Pinceles de la Historia. Mexico City: Patronato del Museo Nacional de Arte, 1999.

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    This four-volume collection presents essays and excellent reproductions of Mexican artwork. The book concerns itself with representation of history, political events, and public life. It contains much valuable material on the way Mexico represented itself and its history to Iberian viewers.

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  • Farago, Claire, ed. Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450–1650. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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    This collection of essays contains much of value in considering the exchange of visual representations between Europe and New Spain. One of the book’s objectives is to demonstrate the breadth of what might be termed an Atlantic Renaissance. Here the New World is addressed as both a powerful influence on Renaissance imagination and as a site of artistic production.

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  • Gruzinski, Serge. Painting the Conquest: The Mexican Indians and the European Renaissance. Translated by Deke Dusinberre. Paris: Flammarion, 1992.

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    This study of 16th-century Mexican codices explores the overlapping functions of writing and painting in colonial Mexico, as well as the integration of visual conventions from Europe and the New World,

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  • Kubler, George. Mexican Architecture of the Sixteenth Century. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1972.

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    First published in 1948, this work remains an oft-cited (and oft-criticized) reference for the history of colonial art in Mexico. One of Kubler’s chief interests is the application and modification of European architecture in New Spain. Much of his analysis considers the social function of art and architecture in a colonizing and missionary environment.

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  • Kubler, George, and Martin Soria. Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions, 1500–1800. Baltimore: Penguin, 1959.

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    This survey of art in the Iberian world is a valuable resource for those wishing to explore Mexican art within a broader American and European context. Though many individual claims in this book have been challenged since publication, it is still widely assigned and very useful.

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  • Pierce, Donna, Rogelio Ruiz Gomar, and Clara Bargellini. Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life, 1521–1821. Denver, CO: Frederick and Jan Mayer Center for Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art, Denver Art Museum, 2004.

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    This exhibition catalogue is of special value to the Atlantic history of Mexico. The works and scholarship presented here emphasize the movement of painters between Iberia and Mexico, and the ways that historical environments were represented for New and Old World viewers.

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Questions of Identity

Studies of identity formation in Mexico have addressed the interrelated themes of race, Creole nationalism, transnationalism, ethnogenesis, citizenship, and frontier studies. All of these literatures have much to contribute to the field of Atlantic history. Historians have often explored questions of identity in reference to the oppositional colonial categories of Christian and pagan, civilized and barbarian, and Spaniard and Indian. Studies of caste and race have treated the social taxonomies regulating intermarriage between Mexicans of indigenous, European, and African ancestry. 19th-century studies have explored Mexico’s self-representation in relation to Europe and the United States. Language has played an important role in marking cultural membership and distinction throughout Mexican history. A growing body of work addresses cultural mediation by individuals exercising multiple cultural identities or operating in multiple linguistic environments. The periods of independence, the Reform, and the Mexican Revolution have all been explored as moments in which longstanding identities (e.g., Indian, peasant, citizen) were renegotiated. Many of the works cited in this entry are studies of cultural projections that communicated or reproduced cultural identities: in the realm of arts, Katzew 2004; in that of law, Seed 2001; and in war and trade, Weber 2005. Informed by recent notions of reciprocal intellectual exchange between New World and Old, some works, such as Galeana 1998, make Europe the object, rather than the subject, in intercultural perceptions. Creole identity, because of its importance in debates over independence movements, has long been an important topic in identity studies, such as Pagden 1987. Many studies of caste or class identity formation look exclusively to conditions in Mexico. However, Knight 1994 gives a sense of how the identities of even the most humble populations were informed by national and international political discourses.

  • Galeana, Patricia. “La imagen de Europa en el México del siglo XIX.”Cuadernos Americanos 69 (1998): 98–106.

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    Amidst an abundance of studies on European imagination of New World identities, this article describes Mexican constructions of Europe in the national period.

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  • Katzew, Ilona. Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    This study of casta paintings by an art historian uses the popular colonial art form to consider peninsular and domestic visions of New Spain. It reconstructs elite conceptions of racial identity and social order.

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  • Knight, Alan “Peasants into Patriots: Thoughts on the Making of the Mexican Nation.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 10 (1994): 135–161.

    DOI: 10.1525/msem.1994.10.1.03a00070Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This broad treatment of the psychology and language of Mexican nationalism addresses the period from Mexican independence to the late 20th century. The author considers the related phenomena of economic, political, and geographically based collective identities.

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  • Pagden, Anthony. “Identity Formation in Spanish America.” In Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800. Edited by Nicholas Canney and Anthony Pagden, 51–94. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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    Chiefly concerned with Mexico and Peru, this article describes the emerging sense of nationality among New World Spaniards over the course of the colonial period.

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  • Seed, Patricia. American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

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    This work of comparative colonialism explores the relationship among legal traditions, land, and ethnicity in the Americas. Many Mexican cases are treated, despite the fact that the book is not focused on New Spain.

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  • Weber, David J. Bárbaros: Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    This hemispheric study describes Spanish understandings of frontier peoples relative to European notions of civilization. Though the geographical scope of the work is vast, the author, a specialist in the history of New Spain’s northern frontier, provides extensive material for readers interested in the Mexican case.

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Mexican Independence

The period of conflict in Spain and New Spain that culminated in Mexican independence spanned the years from 1808 to 1821 and involved a multitude of transatlantic forces. Religion, ethnic and regional identity, conflicting notions of monarchy, and global currents of republicanism all played important roles in this period of revolutionary conflict. The Napoleonic invasion of Iberia created a crisis of authority in New Spain that opened the floodgates of revolutionary and reactionary violence. The intellectual history of this Atlantic conflict has focused on the development of Creole identity and on the transmission of international notions of Enlightenment thought, republicanism, and modernization. At the crossing point between intellectual and political history, studies of the Constitution of Cadiz, the Cortes, and the election of Mexican delegates have provided crucial insight into the shared institutional and ideological currents of the mother country and colony. Nettie Lee Benson’s work, both as curator of collections at the University of Texas and as a historian (see Benson 1966), opened the path for much of the subsequent explorations of Mexican independence as part of a larger transatlantic dialogue on constitutional governance. Since then, Jaime Rodriguez is the historian who has exerted the strongest influence on studies linking Spanish and Mexican political traditions in the independence period (see Rodríguez 1994 and Rodríguez 2005). His influence is clear in Anna 1998 and Eastman 2005. The current state of debates on Spanish-American constitutionalism may be found in Galante 2007. Other scholars have described independence and state formation in this period as a cultural process. Among those attentive to its transatlantic properties are Lempérière 2003 in the sphere of church–state relations and Van Young 2001 in the sphere of ground-level violence.

  • Anna, Timothy E. Forging Mexico, 1821–1835. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1998.

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    This treatment of the early Mexican republic emphasizes regional political communities that antedated independence and retained their legitimacy thereafter. This book complements studies that emphasize the election of Mexican delegates and the legitimacy of the Cortes in the 1812–1820 period.

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  • Benson, Nettie Lee, ed. Mexico and the Spanish Cortes, 1810–1822. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966.

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    This collection of eight essays helped to open a long-term discussion about the importance of the election of Mexican delegates to the Spanish Cortes and its relationship to political and institutional formation in the independence period.

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  • Eastman, Scott. “‘Ya no hay Atlántico, ya no hay dos continentes’: Regionalismo e identidad nacional durante la Guerra de la Independencia en Nueva España.” Tiempos de América 12 (2005): 153–166.

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    Following the tradition of Benson and Rodríguez, this article addresses the Cádiz period as a global Hispanic revolution. It considers conflicting ideas of citizenship rooted in national/regional communities as well as the transatlantic conception of a pan-Hispanic polity.

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  • Galante, Miriam. “La revolución hispana a debate: Lecturas recientes sobre la influencia del proceso gaditano en México.” Revista Complutense de Historia de América 33 (2007): 93–112.

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    A recent appraisal of debates over the connections between the political ideologies of the Constitution of Cádiz and the later independence of Mexico.

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  • Lempérière, Annick. “De la república corporativa a la nación moderna. Mexico (1821–1860)” In Inventando la nacion: Iberoamerica. siglo XIX.Edited by Antonio Annino and Francois-Xavier Guerra,316–346. Mexico, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2003.

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    A study of the politics of nationhood in 19th-century Mexico. The author describes competing conceptions of church and state that are closely connected to contemporary forces in Europe. She considers the new transnational currents of masonry and republicanism, as well as longstanding influence of baroque Catholicism and competing Enlightenment culture.

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  • Rodríguez O., Jaime E., ed. Mexico in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, 1750–1850. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994.

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    This collection of essays treats a broadly defined period of national independence and state formation. The articles include studies of local, national, and transnational elites.

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  • Rodríguez O., Jaime E., ed. Revolucion, independencia y las nuevas naciones de América. Madrid: Fundación Mapfre Tavera, 2005.

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    The most recent of several collections of essays coordinated by Jaime Rodríguez, in which Mexican independence is addressed as part of a hemispheric and transatlantic political moment.

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  • Van Young, Eric. The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810–1821. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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    This challenging work of archival research demonstrates the ways that political language and imagery circulated in a revolutionary Atlantic context, despite the fact that local political action was seldom caused by a clash of coherent ideological systems.

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The French Intervention

The French intervention (1861–1867) was occasioned by a set of financial and diplomatic relationships throughout the north Atlantic. Mexico’s default on debts to France, England, and Spain; the subsequent military cooperation of those powers; and the absence of countervailing U.S. regional influence during the U.S. Civil War led to the French occupation. The later expulsion of the French is partly attributable to conditions in Europe and partly to U.S. intervention after the conclusion of its own internal war. Thus in economic, diplomatic, and military terms, the French intervention was an Atlantic event. Despite provoking powerful nationalist reactions, the French regime heightened Mexico’s taste for French fashions, architecture, and consumer goods, defining yet another transatlantic cultural sphere. The French period is considered from the perspective of diplomatic history in Blumberg 1971 and Duchesne 1976, and from the perspective of internal national conflict in Duncan 1996. Its origins are closely bound to the history of mercantile activity in gulf ports, as French 1990 shows. The period has also been treated as a key era in the cultural formation of nationhood in Hernández-Rodríguez 1977 and Beezley 2007.

  • Beezley, William H. “Cómo fue que El Negrito salvó a México de los franceses: Las fuentes populares de la identidad nacional.” Historia Mexicana 57 (2007): 405–444.

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    Describes the symbolic politics of popular spectacle in defining Mexican identity relative to Spain, France, and the emergent notion of “Latin America.”

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  • Blumberg, Arnold. “The Italian Diplomacy of the Mexican Empire, 1864–1867.” Hispanic American Historical Review 51 (1971): 497–509.

    DOI: 10.2307/2512694Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the Atlantic diplomatic context of Mexico during the French Period. Treats the relationship between the Vatican, the emergent Italian state, and Maximilian’s Mexico.

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  • Duchesne, Albert. “Comentarios de la prensa internacional sobre la expedición belga a México.” Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México 5 (1976): 93–108.

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    Examines the international political debates surrounding the French intervention, and Mexico’s complex position with respect to multiple international military forces and internal factions.

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  • Duncan, Robert H. “Political Legitimation and Maximilian’s Second Empire in Mexico, 1864–1867.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 12 (1996): 27–66.

    DOI: 10.1525/msem.1996.12.1.03a00020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the failure of Maximilian’s project to create legitimacy for his Mexican state through public imagery and ritual. This article addresses Mexico’s conception of itself relative to the French Empire, the imperial past, and international republicanism.

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  • French, John David. “Commercial Foot Soldiers of the Empire: Foreign Merchant Politics in Tampico, Mexico, 1861–1866.” Americas 46 (1990): 291–314.

    DOI: 10.2307/1007015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the international merchant community of Tampico during the French period. Given that international debts and the fight for control of customs revenues created the conditions for the French intervention, the politics of international ports is crucial to our assessments of Mexico’s place in the Atlantic during this period. This article emphasizes the group characteristics of expatriate merchants across boundaries of nationality.

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  • Hernández Rodríguez, Rosaura. “Los indios durante la intervención francesa.” Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México 6 (1977): 43–49.

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    A brief introduction to the treatment of Indians in national political discourse during the French intervention. Addresses cultural nationalism in the international sphere relative to imagery of Spaniard and Indian in the domestic past.

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LAST MODIFIED: 05/25/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0121

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