In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mexico

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • The Conquest
  • Ibero-Indian Society
  • Mexico and the African Diaspora
  • Gender and Women’s History
  • Religion
  • Economic History
  • Cities
  • Migration and Social Networks
  • Intellectual History
  • Arts
  • Questions of Identity
  • Mexican Independence
  • The French Intervention

Atlantic History Mexico
Sean McEnroe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0121


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.

    NNNThis 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.

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

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

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

    NNNA 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.

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

    NNNPerhaps 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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