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Volume 52 / Humanities



ASUNCION LAVRIN, Professor of History, Howard University
EDITH B. COUTURIER, National Endowment for the Humanities

RESEARCH ON MEXICAN COLONIAL HISTORY continued to focus primarily on the central geographical core of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and, chronologically, on the 16th and the late 18th centuries. In the last biennium little was written on the southern areas, and Oaxaca and Yucatán monopolized the few works on that region. The northern areas of New Spain held their own in terms of historical attention as is noted below. Two main concerns of historians, the accessibility of documentary sources and the evaluation of the historiographical output of scholars, were served by the publication of several guides to archival materials, and by assessments of individual historians in scholarly meetings. Among the former are guides to the study of colonial agriculture (item bi 90008792); the continuation of the guide to the notarial records of Monterrey (item bi 90008804); the reissue of Genaro García's documentary sources on the independence (item bi 89014566), and Sarabia Viejo's lengthy bibliography on colonial works (item bi 89004673). The latter category was best represented by the publication of a retrospective on the historiography between 1960-90 in the Memorias del Simposio de Historiografía Mexicanista, an impressive collection of essays on a broad spectrum of themes. Enrique Florescano's studies on the nature of historical thought in Mexico and the historiography of the recent past are also worth noting (item bi 92011084).

Monographs, rather than over-arching thematic coverage, were the predominant venue of expression. The search for illuminating details of regional or local history is based on the conviction that the nuances of time and locality need to be explored with methodological rigor in order to understand the variety of patterns developed throughout 300 years of colonial experience. Sweeping generalizations about some institutions are no longer applicable to the entire Viceroyalty, and discrete units of study seem to be establishing firmer grounds for future reinterpretations. The endeavors of local and regional historians are supported by the growing accessibility of regional archival sources and by the activities of local historical centers such as the Colegios de Michoacán and Guadalajara, to mention only two of several distinguished institutions. For examples of microregional studies see the works of Guy P.C. Thomson on Puebla (item bi 90008798) and Thomas Calvo on New Galicia (item bi 90008596). Emilio Duhau (item bi 90008805) and María de los Angeles Romero Frizzi (item bi 91022246) produced shorter but pithy regional essays. Also useful is a collection of papers focusing on Morelia (item bi 89014681). The collection of essays on Indian-Spanish economic and social relationships edited by Arij Ouweneel and Simon Miller (item bi 92012494) gathers a series of studies about the local circumstances of indigenous communities, thus fulfilling the current need to write a history focusing on the tensions of interests therein.

In addition to an interest in regional history there are also efforts to develop global histories such as the projected nine-volume study on 19th-20th-century agrarian problems (item bi 89014762), and a collection of essays edited by Friedrich Katz on rebellion and rural conflict (item bi 89014688). Slightly outdated by a delayed printing is a volume on the history of popular movements (item bi 89014675). Two other important syntheses were Gonzalbo Aizpuru's volumes on the history of education of Indians and Creoles in New Spain in which she provides grand overviews of these important topics (items bi 91008431). Regional global histories such as those of the state of Oaxaca (item bi 92000834) combine the excellence of monographic studies with a more encompassing focus.

Hacienda and landownership studies have ceded their former preeminence to studies of interethnic relations at the social and economic levels. Whether such relations describe antagonism and resistance, or long-term adaptation, their study encompasses a broad spectrum of human activities as central concerns. Good examples of such studies are the works of Lolita Gutiérrez-Brockington (item bi 92012811); Grant Jones (item bi 92012814); John K. Chance (item bi 90008797); and the collection on Oaxaca edited by Leticia Reina (item bi 89014698). Significantly, these works also focus on the peripheral south. Among the few hacienda studies we must underline those of Arij Ouweneel (item bi 92012874) which intends to revise the method of studying agricultural production. Also worth noting are a study by María del Carmen Velázquez (item bi 90008821) and Mari-José Amerlinck's essay on the acquisition of haciendas by the Dominican Order (item bi 91018495).

Social and economic history are no longer separate categories and most historical works interweave them in their analysis. Examples of this approach are the following books: Louisa S. Hoberman's on 17th-century Mexico City merchants (item bi 91019326); Virginia García Acosta's (item bi91-22250); Agueda Jiménez's (item bi 90000944); Manuel Miño Grijalva's (item bi 91022248); and Juan Carlos Caravaglia and Juan Carlos Grosso's (item bi 90008469). More strictly geared to the study of economic processes are several works which concentrate on the late 18th century. The Bourbon period continues to serve as the treasure trove for economic, institutional and political history, given the abundance of documentation and the significance of changes undertaken throughout the end of the colonial period. Of special interest as a source for the study of economic thought is the edition of the economic writings of the secretaries of the Consulado de Veracruz by Ortiz de la Tabla (item bi 92012873). Another important book in this category is the one by Pedro Pérez Herrero on credit and commerce (item bi 92012875). Margaret Chowning reviews the impact of Consolidación legislation in Michoacán in a model study of local economic history (item bi 89014915). Also of interest for economists is Vera Valdés' study of mining and the Pacific trade (item bi 89014705). The Pacific basin still remains a neglected area in Mexican historiography but one compilation of studies attempts to redress this situation (item bi 92012481). The technical aspects of the textile industry were highlighted by Miño Grijalva (item bi 89014709). The academic debate on the use of statistical techniques to detect economic cycles has been enlivened by Arij Ouweneel's The economic cycle in Bourbon Central Mexico (item bi 89014909), which poses important questions on the analysis of economic cycles. Critiques by David Brading and others (item bi 91010430) enlivened the discussion over the interpretation of mathematical data. Despite these works, the output in classic economic history was limited.

Vicente Rodríguez García's study of the Royal Exchequer's attorney, Ramón de Posada, points to the need to connect biography and politics (item bi 89014691). Also successful in this line of inquiry is Linda Arnold's prosopography of the late colonial bureaucracy (item bi 89014699), and Couturier's essay on the entrepreneurial career of Pedro Romero de Terreros (item bi 90004116). Fray Servando Teresa de Mier was highlighted by a recent French publication (item bi 92013060). But the best re-examined figure of the colonial period was that of Hernán Cortés, the subject of a new biography (item bi 92000836) and of a conference in Spain that brought to light every possible detail in the life and thoughts of the conquistador (item bi 89014671).

Ecclesiastical history elicited considerable interest, perhaps as a result of a more intensive use of ecclesiastical records for social or mentalité studies, and their greater accessibility to researchers in recent years. Antonio Rubial García, who has been studying the Augustinian order for some time, has written a capable synthesis of the Order's move to New Spain (item bi 92013000). Also noteworthy is Manuel Ramos Medina's study of Carmelite nunneries in Mexico City (item bi 90014341). Murdo MacLeod's study of the struggle of Church and State over the control of the indigenous population in 16th-century Chiapas revisits this important topic (item bi 91018487). Others have been attracted by the recovery of the texts produced by historians of the past. We have now two editions of the 17th-century history of the Carmelite Order by Agustín de la Madre de Dios, a previously unpublished manuscript at the Univ. of Tulane (items bi 89014780 and bi 90014341). The publication of the 1585 text of the History of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (item bi 91022249) is worth noting as another example of the interest in the reproduction of texts. Among other significant publications on the Church are the study of the ideology of the regular clergy by B. Connaughton (item bi 89014819), the study of cofradías by Alicia Bazarte (item bi 92012517), and the comparative study of tithe collection in New Spain and Peru by Schwaller (item bi 91009325). The 1989 International Congress on Franciscans in the New World produced an important monograph on the role of the Order (item bi 91023809). The extensive study of the Inquisition by Solange Alberro (item bi 92015651) stands apart. It is more an intriguing and appealing social history of New Spain than a history of the Inquisition itself. The intellectual content of the Jesuits' educational policies have been meticulously analyzed by Gonzalbo Aizpuru in a work that departs from traditional historiographical paths (item bi 92012492). Works by Torre Villar on confessionals (item bi 90009191), Victoria Cumming on the economic stake of the 16th century (item bi 89002704) and Richard Greenleaf on the process of inquisitorial visits are also serious contributions (item bi 89002702). The bibliographical compilation by Rubial García and García Ayluardo (item bi 92012495) is useful.

Deserving mention among demographic works are the methodological analysis by David J. Robinson (item bi 92012999), a collection of works on western Mexico (item bi 92010905), and Miguel Angel Cuenya on a Puebla parish (item bi 89001402). Cecilia Rabell reviews the contributions of several demographic works (item bi 91022245) and the black sector of the population is examined in monographs by Patrick Carroll (item bi 92012485) and Adriana Naveda (item bi 91022247).

Family and women's history have been enriched by several important works that discuss marriage and honor (Seed, item bi 92012496), sexuality and the Church (Lavrin, item bi 90004038) female philanthropy (Couturier, item bi 90014576) family (Boyer and Calvo, item bi 90004044 and bi 90004045) and gender and witchcraft (Behar, item bi 90004042). Works on beatas and models of religious lives broaden the thematic concern of ecclesiastical history (items bi 90008597 and bi 92013173) and an unusual study on rape by Castañeda (item bi 92000822) adds criminality to the range of topics. [AL]

This has been an especially rich period in the broad category of social history of the northern regions of New Spain. Of particular note are works on labor history - perhaps those that are most important are studies by Susan Deeds on problems of forced labor in Nueva Vizcaya (item bi 89014914), Robert Jackson and Peter Stern on mining labor and the cyclical nature of labor needs (item bi 89001019), and Jiménez Pelayo on Indian communities in southern Zacetecas (item bi 92012449). Other important works in social history are those by Cynthia Radding on Sonora (item bi 89001067) and a collection of documents compiled by Carlos Manuel Valdés and Ildefonso Dávila (item bi 90008600). The debate over the canonization of Junípero Serra has enlivened the missionary history of the region, especially that of James Sandos (item bi 89002513), but note should also be taken of the transcription of a collection of documents from 1812 by Edward D. Castillo (item bi 90003720). An attempt by James E. Ivey (item bi 90003641) to date 17th-century missions in New Mexico indicates the lacunae that still remain in writing the history of the north. Works by José Cuello on the region include a study of the city of Saltillo in the late colonial period; a collection of his translated articles (item bi 92012415) makes an important contribution to the study of the region. Oakah L. Jones, one of the most productive contributors to the field of North and Borderlands history, contributes a history of Nueva Vizcaya (item bi 90004530). Another important account written about the North is the article by Cheryl Martin (item bi 90009164) which breaks new ground for the use of speech to investigate gender and race. Richard Nostrand, a geographer, adds to the new field of ecological history (item bi 89004129). Finally, one addition to the history of science in Baja California should be mentioned: Salvador Bernabeu Albert's study of mining in Baja California in the 1760s and 1770s provides a fresh vision of events (item bi 89004129). [EBC]

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