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Volume 58 / Humanities


Colonial Period

MICHAEL T. HAMERLY, Special Project Librarian, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University
SUSAN M. SOCOLOW, Professor of History, Emory University
LANCE R. GRAHN, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Marquette University

WE HAVE HAD TO PARE our introductory remarks once again because the onslaught of noteworthy publications on Spain's former colonies in South America continues unabated. There were not nearly as many new books this time around, however, at least not in English. Regrettably it was also a period that saw the demise of a number of distinguished colonialists.

There was little in the way of truly general works. Specialized studies continue to prevail. Even the two especially noteworthy general works are general only in the geographic sense; thematically they are specialized. The first is the closing volume of an Andean history project: Ethnicity, Markets, and Migration in the Andes: At the Crossroads of History and Anthropology, individual contributions to which are reviewed in this chapter. This work is the "revised, updated English-language edition" of La participación indígena en los mercados surandinos (see HLAS 50:709).[MTH]


The recent historiography on colonial Venezuela featured here represents two broad categories: regional or local history and the prelude to independence. Neither focus in and of itself is a new departure. But each is represented by fine examples of conscientious research and careful argumentation. Regarding the first group, the overlapping concerns with the collection of data and its explication produced a set of high quality works that especially examined the origins, activities, and influence of local societal sectors, particularly of the elite. For example, Picón-Parra's encyclopedic treatment of Mérida understandably emphasizes the local elite even as it promotes the study of the genealogical and social history of the province (items #bi 97009241# and #bi 97009325#). Langue, consciously limiting his study to the elite of Caracas, examines the city's internal tensions caused by concerns over regional dominance in a changing political and economic landscape (item #bi 96008093#).

Langue's essay also represents the second category of concentration—the evolving dynamics of conflict and accommodation that, from a perspective of hindsight, disrupted colonial stability and propelled the colony toward political independence. Ramón Aizpurua's important study of smuggling in the southern Caribbean demonstrates that Venezuelan merchants and consumers developed their own networks of trade that rivaled, if not replaced, legal networks in response to commercial instability (item #bi 97009327#). Los pardos libres en la colonia y la independencia (item #bi 98010564#) and José Leonardo Chirino y la insurrección de la serranía de Coro (item #bi 98010559#) advance the role of Afro-Venezuelans in creating a political climate conducive to independence. And Tomás Polanco Alcántara personalizes this tendency toward independence in his biography of Francisco Miranda (item #bi 98010542#). Miquel Izard, however, argues that conflict in the llanos prompted by the oligarchy's efforts to expand their economic control and to eliminate the Maroon example of popular autonomy actually set the stage for independence a century earlier (item #bi 95018392#).

Two other works deserve special mention here. The collection of essays Químeras de amor, honor y pecado en el siglo XVIII venezolano engagingly contemplates the realities of love, marriage, and sexuality in Venezuelan society (item #bi 97009268#). Charles Nicholl's The Creature in the Map is a superb account of Walter Raleigh's failed search for the fabled El Dorado in the late-16th century (item #bi 98010554#).


Valuable studies of social and daily life in the New Kingdom of Granada dominate entries in {HLAS 58,} illustrating an engaging creativity and maturity within recent Colombian historiography. For example, Pablo Rodríguez's Sentimientos y vida familiar en el Nuevo Reino de Granada, siglo XVIII (item #bi 98010566#) and Diana Luz Ceballos Gómez's Hechicería, brujería e Inquisición en el Nuevo Reino de Granada (item #bi 97009288#) explore quotidian realities of family life and belief systems, respectively, with insight and sensitivity. Though less overtly social, even the monographs of Guido Barona Bacerra (item #bi 97009266#) and Renán Silva (item #bi 97009282#) effectively frame human existence, the former within the hardening economic situation of Popayán and the latter within the New Granadan academy. Documentary collections such as Tovar Pinzón's four-volume Relaciones y visitas a los Andes, siglo XVI (item #bi 97009228#), the Cabildos de San Juan de Pasto, 1573-1579 (item #bi 97009243#), and the Indice de dotes, mortuorias y testamentos existentes en las notarías de Santafé de Bogotá (item #bi 97009233#) help to secure the permanence of the archival foundation for such monographs.

Secondarily, the history of the Caribbean provinces received considerable attention in this biennium. Ceballos Gómez's book is the most noteworthy of this group. But others, though more traditional, also provide useful accounts of society there. Two works present the viceregal government's intent to invigorate colonial society in the north with bold colonization schemes (items #bi 98010549# and #bi 95018611#). Others, focusing more exclusively on Cartagena city and province, probe the indigenous and African history of the area (items #bi 97009284#, #bi 97009290#, and #bi 98010551#). And the late Alvaro Jara, one of the most respected Latin American historians of his generation, examined the fiscal health of the Cartagena treasury (item #bi 97000624#). [LRG]


Turning to Ecuador, the increase in the quality as well as the quantity of studies continues to be impressive. In fact it has become almost impossible to stay abreast of the flood. Two not so new journals need to be added to the list of historical periodicals: Memoria, Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Investigaciones Históricas y Geográficas, 1 (1989-1990) ; and Revista del Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Genealógicas y Antropológicas, 1:1 (marzo 1981) . The first journal does not appear to be very promising, but the second does. The most significant of the new monographs are: Andrien's superb The Kingdom of Quito, 1690-1830 (item #bi 96003449#); Estrella's magnificent La "Flora Huayaquilensis" de Juan Tafalla (item #bi 99008938#); Herzog's wholly novel La administración como un fenómeno social (item #bi 97012766#); Lavallé's revisionist Quito et la crise de l'alacaba, 1580-1600 (item #bi 99008290#); and Tardieu's richly textured Noirs et nouveaux maîtres dans les "vallées sanglantes" de l'Équateur, 1778- 1820 (item #bi 99009540#). Unfortunately, Estrella, who was almost single-handedly revolutionizing the history of science in and scientific expeditions to Ecuador, died in 1996. The increasing internationalization of Ecuadorian studies is best exemplified by Herzog, an Israeli scholar, who literally burst on to the scene in the mid-1990s with three books, published in Spain (item #bi 97012766#), Ecuador (item #bi 99008287#), and Germany (item #bi 99009072#), respectively.


The most important of the new and recent books are clearly Damian's multidisciplinarian The Virgin of the Andes (item #bi 99008298#), J.M. Williams' excellent edition of several of Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo's writings (item #bi 99008299#), Sala i Vila's major contribution to the literature on the Túpac Amaru rebellion (item #bi 99008300#), the beautiful to view and delightful to read Santa Rosa de Lima y su tiempo (item #bi 97012715#), and Varón Gabai's pathbreaking work on the financial empire of the Pizarros (item #bi 97003486#). As for articles, especially impressive are Aldana Rivera's piece on the participation of indigenas in the market economy of Paita (item #bi 96025265#), Cahill's studies of health care in Lima (item #bi 96001688#) and popular religion in Cuzco (item #bi 96010115#), Dougnac Rodríguez's work on water rights in the valleys of Lima (item #bi 97007504#), Huertas' model study of Zaña (item #bi 96008702#), Iwasaki Cauti's essay on the all too human Luisa Melgarejo de Soto (item #bi 97008534#), and Stavig's novel study of indigenous sexual and marital beliefs and practices (item #bi 99009656#).


Turning to Alto Perú, we note with regret the 1994 passing of María Eugenio del Valle de Siles, the editor of Francisco Tadeo Diez de Medina's Diario del alzamiento de indios conjurdos contra la Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, 1781 (item #bi 97012754#). Only a handful of new books appeared, the most novel of which was Rossells' La gastronomía en Potosí y Charcas (item #bi 97012718#). There were a substantial number of important articles, on the other hand. At the usual risk of being invidious, those that strike this contributor as especially significant are: Gutiérrez Brockington's two studies of the quasi-forgotten Corregimiento of Mizque (items #bi 96008699# and #bi 97008961#); Lema's and Meruvia's essays on the yungas (items #bi 96001716# and #bi 97008510#, respectively); the several extracts from López Beltrán's Columbia University doctoral dissertation on the elite of 17th-century La Paz (items #bi 00000001#, #bi 96004195#, and #bi 97008963#) and and the usual solid contributions by Santamaría (items #bi 97008496# and #bi 97014762#) and Tandeter (items #bi 00000178#, #bi 97008953#, and #bi 97012118#).


The field continues to be dominated by national scholars, two of the greatest of whom are no longer with us. Rolando Mellafe died in 1995, and Alvaro Jara in 1998. However, the Spanish historian Francisco de Solano, who also died recently (in 1996), left us new major sets of coeval sources, Relaciones económicas del Reino de Chile, 1780 (item #bi 97012736#) and Relaciones geográficas del Reino de Chile, 1756 (1992). The most important of the recent monographs are Foerster's Jesuitas y mapuches, 1593-1767 (item #bi 97012723#), unfortunately written in postmodernistic qualitative discourse—an idiom desperately in need of desobfuscation—and Villalobos' more easily digested La vida fronteriza en Chile (item #bi 97001686#), both of which are revisionist studies. The best of the somewhat reduced crop of articles were Larrain's re-examination of the terms of trade during the second half of the colonial period (item #bi 97015262#) and Salinas Meza's pioneering study of "La violencia conyugal y el rol de la mujer en la sociedad chilena tradicional" (item #bi 97011474#). [MTH]


Social history continues to be an important topic for historians of the Rio de la Plata region. Of note is the work of Aguirre and Petit on apprentices (item #bi 96001728#), those of Martínez de Sánchez on urban meat supply and dress (items #bi 96008704# and #bi 97014556#, respectively), Porro and Barbero on material culture (item #bi 97014530#), and Ferreiro on Jujuy encomenderos (item #bi 96004188#). Work on land and labor, another important topic within the region's historiography, continues to result in generally high quality research. Especially interesting are the article by Garavaglia and Gelman (item #bi 95025476#), the works by Azcuy Ameghino (item #bi 97014549#) and the "Azcuy group" (item #bi 97014560#), Barba (item #bi 97014555#), and Birocco (item #bi 96018467#), as well as studies concentrating on the northwestern and northeastern interior by López de Albornoz (items #bi 96006784# and #bi 96024179#), Mata de Lápez (items #bi 96006782# and #bi 96009041#), J.C. Pistoia (item #bi 97014532#), and Rivarola Paoli (item #bi 97014541#).

Interest continues in local and long-distance trade in the region (Alvarez Pantoja (item #bi 97016848#), Bellotto (item #bi 96018466#), Bentancur (item #bi 96008836#), Palomeque (item #bi 96006779#), Silva (item #bi 97014537#) and Tejerina (item #bi 97015711#)). Also noteworthy are two studies of political organization by E.O. Acevedo (item #bi 97014563#) and Bentancur (item #bi 96000210#). Missions and frontiers continue to be of interest to several scholars, with a new focus on relations between Spaniards and indigenous peoples along the frontier (A.M. Acevedo (item #bi 97017063#), Alemán (item #bi 97014545#), Areces (item #bi 95012480#), Neumann (item #bi 95022392#), Ras (item #bi 97014528#), and Santamaría (item #bi 96006793#)); and in Jesuit and non-Jesuit attempts at extending their missions outside of the famous Misiones region (Machón (item #bi 97014558#), Martínez Martín, (item #bi 95016042#), Maeder (item #bi 96024145#), and B.H. Pistoia (item #bi 97014532#)). Not to be overlooked is Lucía Gálvez's synthesis of everyday life in the Jesuit missions (item #bi 97014534#). Another productive field is that of historical demography, as demonstrated by a number of works reviewed this biennium (Boleda (item #bi 95025152#), Ghirardi de Millar (item #bi 96009939#), and Ulloa (item #bi 96023623#)).

We applaud the publication of primary sources, including Cardiel's Breve relación de las misiones del Paraguay (item #bi 97014566#), Cartas y documentos coloniales de Mendoza (item #bi 97014544#), Maziel's De la justicia del tratado de límites (item #bi 97014539#), and Varanda's Miscelánea histórico-política (item #bi 97014540#), a new contribution to paleography by Tanodi de Chiapero, (item #bi 97014526#) and several fine bibliographies and catalogs (Delgado and Martínez (item #bi 96017887#) Gabbi and Martín de Codoni (item #bi 97014538#), Melia and Nagel (item #bi 97014551#), and Santos Martínez (item #bi 97014522#)). The fine attempt at popular synthesis of the colonial history of the region undertaken by Luna is also worthy of note (item #bi 97014536#).

Some other tendencies worthy of note include a slow increase in studies that extend our knowledge of the region into the 17th century. Although women's history is almost absent from the articles reviewed here, there is a notable increase in the number of women working on different aspects of the region's history. Lastly, the high quality of articles on more distant part of the region and on Paraguay and Uruguay is an encouraging sign. [SMS]

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