Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY (latinamericanhistory.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

Subscriber: null; date: 22 July 2018

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, Mexico

Summary and Keywords

“Power of Attorney in Oaxaca, Mexico: Native People, Legal Culture, and Social Networks” is an ongoing digital research project that constructs a geography of indigenous legal culture through digital maps and visualizations. The Power of Attorney website analyzes relationships among people, places, and courts that were created by the granting of power attorney, a notarial procedure common across the Spanish empire. The primary actors in this story are indigenous individuals, communities, and coalitions of communities in the diocese of Oaxaca, Mexico, and the legal agents who represented them, some of whom were untitled indigenous scribes, and others, titled lawyers and legal agents of Spanish descent. The relationship between indigenous litigants and their legal agents created social networks and flows of knowledge and power at a variety of scales, some local and some transatlantic, whose dimensions changed over time. The pilot for the project focuses on the district of Villa Alta, Oaxaca, during the 18th century.

The multiscalar narrative of the Power of Attorney project speaks to multiple audiences, and the digital multimedia format allows visitors to further tailor their interactions with information. The site operates on many levels. It provides maps and visualizations based on original research, data culled from primary sources that can be used as a research tool, historical and geographical background information, information about how to read letters of attorney, and microhistorical narratives of power of attorney relationships. For undergraduates learning about the relationship between Spanish administration and pueblos de indios, the maps and visualizations provide an at-a-glance overview of the spatial and social connections among Indian towns, ecclesiastical and viceregal courts, and the court of the king in Madrid from the perspective of an indigenous region rather than a top-down perspective. Graduate students and scholars interested in the production of notarial records in native jurisdictions, social history and ethnohistorical methodology and the relationship between local and transatlantic processes can explore the maps, visualizations, and data in greater detail. An educated general audience interested in the history of Oaxaca’s native peoples can find a general introduction to the region, its history and geography, and the long-standing relationship between Mexico’s native people and the law.

Keywords: digital, spatial, ethnohistory, law, indigenous, maps, networks, native, Indian, legal

Genesis of the Project: Spatial History, Ethnohistory, and Legal Culture

The spatial turn has reoriented and enriched the social history of colonial Latin America. The scholarship of the last two decades extends beyond bounded geographical and sociopolitical units of analysis, whether haciendas, indigenous communities, cities, or districts, toward a spatial connectivity that facilitated flows of people, goods, and ideas. Place-based history has given way to histories on continental and transatlantic scales, reflecting the contemporary preoccupation with a globalized world.1

Like scholars in proximate fields, ethnohistorians of colonial Latin America increasingly do their research and situate their narratives around ocean basins, along riverine routes, and across vast networks of roads. Recent studies of colonial Amazonia, Río de la Plata, Central America, and the Andes conceive of social space in either a multiscalar or a capillary mode, or both.2 Yet the ethnohistory of colonial Mexico remains overwhelmingly rooted in place in part because of the reliance on a wealth of native language archival evidence that underscores the centrality of ancestry, territory, and ethnic polity to indigenous notions of sovereignty.3 The rich ethnohistories of Mexico’s colonial cities also hew to a place-based approach by highlighting the continuities in indigenous spatial practices and by foregrounding indigenous barrios and parcialidades as spaces in which collective identities were formulated and reformulated as migrants from rural communities poured in, and city Indians mixed with other social groups.4

Ethnohistorians of Mesoamerica face a special challenge in expanding the histories of indigenous peoples beyond the native ethnic polity and ethnolinguistic region: how to reconcile the primacy of land, territory, and locality to native identity with the transatlantic and hemispheric flows of knowledge and power that buffeted indigenous communities, in which native people actively participated.5 Growing interest in indigenous engagement with Spanish legal institutions has pointed the way to an ethnohistory of law, some of which is explicitly multiscalar and multiethnic.6 Through legal conflict, native litigants, and cabildos, Spanish judges, lawyers, and untitled legal practitioners of varying caste identities created “bundles of relationships” that linked diverse peoples bound by common interests and institutional networks across colonial space.7

The bulk of the cases that native people took to New Spain’s colonial courts concerned land tenure rooted in claims to custom (defined by Spanish law as long-standing, continuous, local practice), place (undergirded by indigenous mythstories of migration and settlement), and possession (legitimized in Spanish courts by territorial occupation and agricultural production).8 This territorial notion of colonial indigenous sovereignty was overlaid with the competing, overlapping, and shifting outlines of Spanish legal jurisdictions, which were territorial entities as much conceptual ones.9 A major contribution made by ethnohistories of colonial law has been to highlight the engagement of native people, generally considered to be rooted in place, with transatlantic legal institutions and processes.10 In order to make legal claims to land, local sovereignty, and other local matters, indigenous people had to go to court in district seats, viceregal capitals, and sometimes across the ocean to the court of the Spanish king, and to produce legal documents for Spanish judges. In doing so, they inserted their communities, some of which lay at great distances from the Spanish administrative centers, into far-flung relationships and networks, whose ligatures provide an alternative view of native space that was as important to native strategies of survival and adaptation in the colonial world as were Mesoamerican notions of ethnic territory.11

Distance was a crucial element in native legal networks. In a practical sense, the distance from Spanish administrative and population centers afforded indigenous peoples a degree of semi-autonomy and alleviated the pressure on indigenous lands exerted by the Spanish colonists. The idea of distance was informed as much by power as by geographical space. Regions at a spatial remove from administrative centers were peripheral geographically and institutionally, and they lacked the commercial, ecclesiastical, and civil functions of the cities and towns that were central to the colonial world.12 For native peoples, these conceptions of center, periphery, and distance were critical to maintaining their corporate status and semi-autonomy. At the same time, indigenous people had their own conceptions of center and periphery based on native history and memory, hierarchies of ritual and ceremonial space, and long-standing ties of trade and commerce, some of which stretched back to the pre-Hispanic era.13 Pluricultural conceptions of space made the notions of “center” and “periphery” relative and contingent.

Mitigating the great distances of Spanish America was an overriding concern for colonial subjects, and Spain’s imperial legal institutions were designed with this imperative in mind. Even the humblest members of colonial society, from slaves to indigenous commoners, overcame distance and went to court via the pen and paper of a notary, or, in the absence of a notary, the closest official, priest, or amanuensis.14 One of the most common and potent ways of overcoming the obstacles to litigation posed by geography and linguistic difference was the notarial practice of granting the power of attorney to a legal agent by virtue of a document known as a “letter of attorney.” In reconstructing indigenous legal culture, historians have traditionally privileged court cases and legal treatises and overlooked letters of attorney, which were considered formulaic, accessory, and devoid of important information. More recent work that adopts a transatlantic approach to the study of indigenous legal culture and social networks in the Andes, however, puts letters of attorney at the heart of the analysis.15 The Power of Attorney project makes a parallel intervention for the case of Mesoamerica.

As the letters of attorney attest, indigenous individuals and groups granted power of attorney to a range of legal representatives, for a variety of reasons. Geography was a major factor. The cost of leaving fields untended to travel to distant civil and ecclesiastical courts often made it impossible for native litigants to go to court themselves. Language and legal literacy also played a role. Native people who spoke only indigenous languages needed legal representatives who spoke and wrote Spanish; were well versed in legal genres, discursive forms, and procedures; and could interact with officials in Spanish courts and shepherd cases through the proper channels and stages of appeal. Some legal agents were informal indigenous practitioners without a legal title; others were licensed Spanish lawyers.

Granting the power of attorney allowed native people to conduct legal business related to property, inheritance, and all kinds of litigation indirectly, at an institutional and geographical remove from colonial courts. The power-of-attorney relationship was especially important for native people who lived in communities nestled in high mountain ranges, several days’ walk from a court. The rugged mountainous district of Villa Alta, high in Oaxaca’s northern Sierra Madre, was such a region. As the crow flies, the distances between the towns of Villa Alta—and, critically, between the towns and the district court in the district seat of Villa Alta—do not appear great, but at the ground level, they are formidable: steep mountain chains are cross-cut by narrow gorges carved by the Cajonos River. Imagine traversing that landscape on foot—the mode of transportation used by most, since mules were valuable commodities, available only to a few, and generally used to transport goods—just to get to the court in Villa Alta. Modern-day residents of the towns located in what is known as the “Zapotec Corner” (Rincón Zapoteco) tell tales of walking twelve hours over a mountain named “man killer” to the court of Villa Alta to get married. Indeed, today’s district of Villa Alta is cross-cut by footpaths, much as it was during the colonial period and earlier, because of the dearth of modern roads. The power-of-attorney relationship attenuated the vast distances, rugged geography, and linguistic and cultural differences that separated Villa Alta and other regions of the diocese of Oaxaca—often characterized as a land apart—from the heart of New Spain and facilitated flows of power, knowledge, and resources at multiple scales.

Oaxaca’s archives contain hundreds of letters of attorney that native people had authorized during the colonial period. Some indigenous peoples gave the power of attorney as individuals, but most letters of attorney were authorized by cabildo officers representing their communities. Over the course of twenty years of research in Oaxaca’s archives, I took notes and or digitized many letters of attorney on the assumption that I could use the information they contained to write about the people who authorized them, the nature of their legal business, and the identities of the legal agents to whom they gave power of attorney. As I scrutinized the notarial formula of the letters of attorney, I realized that they contain a lot of spatial information, including the names of the pueblos of the native individuals or cabildos who granted the power of attorney and the places of residence of the people receiving it, many of which corresponded to the location of a civil or ecclesiastical court. In short, these documents mapped the reach of native pueblos and Spanish legal institutions through networks of people across space. I wondered if interactive digital maps might capture this spatial dimension of native legal culture in ways that a conventional historical narrative could not. This is how my digital project “Power of Attorney in Oaxaca, Mexico: Native People, Legal Culture, and Social Networks” (hereafter referenced as “Power of Attorney”) came to be.

Method: Mapping and Visualizing Native Legal Culture

The Power of Attorney digital project provides an interactive visualization of indigenous legal culture in colonial Mexico through the axes of people, space, time, and legal activity. The maps and visualizations draw their data from letters of attorney produced during the 18th century in the district seats of two of New Spain’s largest indigenous jurisdictions: Villa Alta and Teposcolula. The letters of attorney can be found in the Protocolos de Instrumentos Públicos in the Villa Alta and the Teposcolula colonial civil archives in the Archivo Histórico Judicial de Oaxaca. During the mid- to late-colonial period, there were no resident notaries in the district seats of Villa Alta and Teposcolula, owing to the peripheral status and overwhelmingly indigenous demographics of both districts, though there were indigenous notaries in the municipal governments of native towns. In the absence of a public notary in the district court, the letters of attorney were signed by the Spanish magistrate (alcalde mayor) and two official court witnesses (testigos de asistencia).

In the first phase of the Power of Attorney project, I mapped power of attorney relationships for the district of Villa Alta for the 18th century. The maps for 18th-century Teposcolula are in progress, and I plan to produce maps for the first half of the 19th century for both districts, which will take into account the administrative and institutional changes wrought by independence. The comparative research design foregrounds the role of geography in power-of-attorney relationships. Though it was separated from colonial centers by rugged geography and distance, the district of Teposcolula, which was in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, was more accessible to Oaxaca City and Mexico City than to Villa Alta. The major towns of the Mixteca—Huajuapan, Tamazulapan, Yanhuitlán, and Nochistlán—sat on major trade routes dating to the pre-Hispanic period and running from the Basin of Mexico to the Pacific Coast and to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and Guatemala. By contrast, the Spanish seat of Villa Alta and the larger native towns of the Sierra Norte did not sit on major trade routes and were much less accessible because of the rugged mountainous geography of the region. One could travel from the district seat of Villa Alta to Oaxaca City (Antequera) by the royal highway (Camino Real) via two main routes, the first running south toward Tlacolula, which intersected with the road that connected Mitla with Antequera, and the second running north and west via Ixtlan and Ixtepeji.16 Neither route was direct. In this regard, the two districts were quite different. Teposcolula was characterized by trade, ranching, commerce, and greater communication with Oaxaca City and Mexico City; Villa Alta by greater geographic isolation and native cultural continuity because of the slow penetration of Spanish institutions into the region.17 By mapping power-of-attorney relationships for both districts, Power of Attorney will show how geography and culture affected native legal strategies and expectations of attaining justice.

To organize the data for the 18th-century Villa Alta maps, I created an Excel sheet with as many data points as the letters contained, standardized the data, and then decided which data categories to plot on the map. After we had categorized all the data, my collaborators at the Emory University Center for Digital Studies and I decided to focus on three data points: people (those granting power of attorney and those receiving it), places (the towns of origin of the people giving power of attorney and the towns in which the legal agents resided, which were often the locations of courts), and the “event” of granting power of attorney.

One challenge we faced was how to count letters of attorney that had been authorized by multiple towns. These letters are particularly interesting because they represented coalitions of communities united around a specific issue, which strategized collectively to grant power of attorney to a single legal agent (and sometimes to two legal agents, one closer to home and the other in Mexico City). In the cases of multi-authored letters of attorney, a single letter corresponded to multiple grantors; yet the letter was in effect many letters of attorney rolled into one. We decided to count these complex letters of attorney as multiple events, thereby apportioning to them their full weight of legal representation.

We spatialized the power-of-attorney relationships by equating the grantors of power of attorney with their communities of origin and the grantees with their places of residence. We were able to use the present-day coordinates for Villa Alta’s indigenous towns because most of them still maintain their colonial-era locations. We gave each letter of attorney a unique identifier, which included its year of production. We then created a relational database that connected grantors and grantees through the “event” of the letter of attorney, thereby connecting people, space, notarial activity, and time. The relationships of power of attorney are therefore expressed in the maps and visualizations as lines connecting places.

We used Gephi—a software for visualizing networks—to build network graphs that showed these connections between places and then exported the network graphs to three KML files, each representing a different slice of time in the 18th century, which makes it possible to trace change over time. The KML files include the coordinate location of each place and also maintain the network relationships. We opened the files in Google Earth, which has a Gephi plug-in that allowed us to overlay the legal networks onto detailed satellite imagery. The visualization emphasizes the spatial and geographical aspect of these relationships and makes clearer the physical separation between the towns of Villa Alta and the major cities they interacted with through the legal process (figure 1). Google Earth also makes it possible to get down to the ground level to see the landscape up close and visualize what a journey to a distant court entailed (figures 2, 3). Three CARTODB maps allow for analysis of how different factors correlated with power-of-attorney relationships throughout the 18th century, including population, administrative boundaries, ethnolinguistic identities, and powers of attorney granted versus received in all of the approximately one hundred native towns of Villa Alta (figures 4, 5, 6).

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 1. Power of attorney relationships, Villa Alta, 1700–1780.

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Google Earth with Gephi plug-in.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 2. San Juan Tabáa to Villa Alta, possible partial route (indicated by curving royal blue line).

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Google Earth with Gephi plug-in

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 3. Santiago Lalopa to Villa Alta, possible partial route (indicated by curving royal blue line).

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Google Earth with Gephi plug-in.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 4. Native towns of Villa Alta that granted power of attorney (“grantors,” indicated by yellow circles) and towns in which legal agents who received Power of Attorney resided (“grantees,” indicated by violet circles).

Created by Megan Slemons, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using CARTO.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 5. Ethnolinguistic regions and parish seats of Villa Alta.

Created by Megan Slemons, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using CARTO.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 6. Population map of Villa Alta, filtered by census years (1703, 1742, 1781, 1789).

Created by Megan Slemons, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using CARTO.

In addition to the interactive maps, the Power of Attorney site contains an animated version of the Gephi model to show changes in power-of-attorney relationships over the 18th century (figure 7). Static PDF maps freeze-frame power-of-attorney relationships for three periods of time (1700–1740, 1740–1780, and 1780–1800), based on material and legal challenges to indigenous control over the resources that funded community-based litigation and paid for legal representation: communal land and the town treasury (caja de comunidad) (figures 8, 9, 10). From 1700 to 1740, the native population grew from roughly 36,396 to 49,000, and native communities suffered a “second conquest” in the form of a renewed extirpation campaign and the secularization of parishes that followed a violent local uprising, the Cajonos Rebellion of 1700.18 During the period 1740–1780, the native population of Villa Alta leveled off and cochineal production reached its peak. Colonial officials intensified their efforts to control native land, labor, and town treasuries; combined with the demographic growth of the previous three decades and increased parcelization of tierras del común repartimiento (communal land divided among households), this created competition for resources and conflict and litigation within and among native towns.19 From 1780 to 1800, colonial laws added to the pressure on native lands and treasuries: the Reglamentos para los pueblos de indios instituted by Carlos III required a full accounting of the cajas de comunidad and regulated their spending. The Reglamentos were implemented in Teposcolula in 1780 and in Villa Alta in 1783, and were followed by the Ordenanzas de Intendentes (1786), which allowed Spanish subdelegados to intervene in the administration of the cajas de comunidad. Despite this assault on native land and village treasuries, Villa Alta’s native cabildos maintained control of communal land through successful litigation. The community treasuries did not fare as well. Increased taxes and the centralization of Spain’s fiscal regime siphoned silver specie from the region’s native towns into Madrid’s royal treasury and the Bank of San Carlos, which was founded in 1782.20

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 7. Animated Gephi network graph showing power of attorney relationships across the 18th century.

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Gephi.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 8. Map of power of attorney relationships, 1700–1740.

Created by Michael Page, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Esri ArcGIS.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 9. Map of power of attorney relationships, 1740–1780.

Created by Michael Page, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Esri ArcGIS.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 10. Map of power of attorney relationships, 1780–1800.

Created by Megan Slemons, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Esri ArcGIS.

General Findings

Power of Attorney demonstrates that native people in the district of Villa Alta granted power of attorney with greater frequency over the course of the 18th century, a trend that the static PDF maps and the Gephi animation for the Villa Alta district show very clearly (figures 7, 8, 9, 10). The data culled from all the letters of attorney in the Villa Alta archive reveal that indigenous individuals and communities granted 74 contracts from 1700 to 1740, 106 from 1741 to 1780, and 130 from 1780 to 1800. The increasing numbers must be understood against a backdrop of historical factors: a general uptick in litigation in the Spanish empire through the 18th century; demographic growth from 1700 to 1740; and the process of native dispossession, which compelled native communities to hire legal representatives, notably during the sale of shares in the Bank of San Carlos.21

The power of attorney was also more frequently given to native people after 1740. The data reveals that eight contracts were granted to indigenous legal agents from 1700 to 1740, forty-four from 1740 to 1780, and fifteen from 1780 to 1800. This trend corresponds with the secularization of parishes in the district after 1700 and the Bourbon-era educational policies.22 Secularization increased the number of parishes and parish priests in the district, and placed new emphasis on Spanish-language education through the maestros de escuela (schoolmasters) who taught the Christian doctrine to native villagers. Bourbon policies that required the presence of maestros de escuela in every village and their payment from the native town treasuries contributed to an environment that nurtured Spanish literacy. Greater exposure to the Spanish language and Spanish institutions may have equipped more native individuals to serve as legal agents.

The three layers of the first CARTODB map show that every town in the district generated letters of attorney and that a smaller percentage of towns were home to legal agents who received power of attorney. They also show that the indigenous legal agents who received power of attorney tended to reside in the northwestern region of the district, the region closest to Oaxaca City and the royal highway (Camino Real) that led to Oaxaca City and then on to Mexico City (figure 4). The second CARTODB map shows the region’s ethnolinguistic divisions and the twenty-two towns that served as parish seats during the 18th century (after 1707). This map differs from the first and third CARTODB maps in that one can zoom in to see satellite imagery of the region, which allows interaction with the district’s geography and topography. Armed with the information about grants given and received from the first map, one can determine the ethnolinguistic identification of a town and whether a granting or receiving town was a parish seat, and can also examine the geography of that town. For example, native individuals residing in Nexitzo Zapotec towns received the most grants of power of attorney, and native individuals residing in the cabeceras—parish seats and administrative centers (and often population centers)—received power of attorney most frequently (figure 5). The third CARTODB map overlays an ethnolinguistic map of the region on top of a map that provides information about how the population of each town changed over the 18th century, with population estimates taken from 1703, 1742, 1781, and 1789. The population of the district grew from 1703 to 1742, but then leveled off and even dipped at certain intervals for the remainder of the 18th century and into the 19th century. Against the backdrop of this broader trend, some towns grew and others shrank (figure 6). This additional data allows one to correlate population and ethnolinguistic region with frequency of powers of attorney granted and received.

Generating Narratives: Two Stories in the Maps

The dense web of lines connecting remote mountain villages in Oaxaca to one another, and to Oaxaca City, Mexico City, and Madrid on the Google Earth map in figure 1 allows the viewer to ascertain a big storyline at a single glance: despite distance and geography and differences in language and culture, power of attorney connected diverse people and far-flung places and institutions. Through the interactivity of the Google Earth map, visitors to the Power of Attorney site can zoom in and out to discern the kernels of finer-grained narratives, which researchers can pursue in greater detail. For example, if one zooms in to the parish seat of San Juan Tanetze on the Google Earth map in figure 11, one can see lines connecting the town to ten other towns—Lalopa, Yagallo, Lachichina, Yaviche, La Olla, Yatoni, Talea, Juquila, Yatao, Cacalotepeque—from the northwest corner of the Villa Alta district (Nexitzo Zapotec). For more details about the letter of attorney that connected these towns—including its date of production, the names and identities of the cabildo officers of each town, and the name of the legal agent, one can consult the EXCEL file with the master data embedded in the site and use the data to consult the letter in the archive. This case is particularly interesting because it involves a multitown coalition: all the cabildos of those ten towns along with the cabildo of San Juan Tanetze gave power of attorney to don Antonio de Aldas, a native principal (local notable) and resident of San Juan Tanetze. Aldas happened to be the maestro de escuela for the parish, meaning that he taught Spanish and the Christian doctrine to native parishioners and worked closely with the parish priest.

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 11. Power of attorney relationships, 1744 letter of attorney.

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Google Earth with Gephi plug-in.

The letter of attorney signed by the native officers of the eleven communities authorized Aldas to contradict in court the claim by the officials of the town of San Juan Yaée to the exclusive right to host the local market (tianguis). According to the letter of attorney, Yaée’s authorities had obtained a Real Provisión—a legal order issued by the Audiencia of Mexico (akin to the Supreme Court of the viceroyalty) on behalf of the king—that upheld Yaée’s claim to host the market. The eleven towns directed Aldas to request that the Real Provisión be rescinded and to pursue a resolution favorable to their communities, which presumably meant that one of the plaintiff towns could host the local market.23

A researcher could use this letter of attorney to point the way to the legal cases for which it was authorized, as I did in my research. I found that the dispute over the location of the market was part of a larger conflict between the granting towns and the town of San Juan Yaée over whether San Juan Yaée or San Juan Tanetze was the legitimate parish and administrative seat (cabecera), and what forms of labor and resources the granting towns that were subject to the cabecera’s authority owed to it. One of the privileges that often accompanied cabecera status was the right to host the local market. The San Juan Yaée–San Juan Tanetze dispute over cabecera status and other related privileges began in the 1690s and continued until the 1760s in a series of legal cases in the district court of Villa Alta, the ecclesiastical court of Antequera (Oaxaca City), and the Real Audiencia of Mexico City. San Juan Yaée and San Juan Tanetze and its allied plaintiff towns hired many legal agents from near and far, indigenous and nonindigenous, to represent their interests and shepherd the individual cases through to conclusion. Aldas was likely granted power of attorney for this aspect of the case because of his identity as a high-status indigenous resident of San Juan Tanetze, position as schoolmaster, literacy in Spanish, and intimate knowledge of the customary relationships among the towns of the region. Aldas expertly packaged detailed local knowledge in the trappings of Spanish legal language and documentary forms, serving as translator, representative, and advocate for his native clients. Despite the well-argued and documented case that he and the legal team put forward, however, the Audiencia of Mexico ruled in favor of San Juan Yaée, in part because of changing legal attitudes toward custom and cabecera-sujeto relations.24

This local story of power of attorney suggests how the Power of Attorney site can be used as a research tool. In order to flesh out a relationship of power of attorney and reconstruct a story within the map, one can move within the site from the maps to the data, and then use the information to find archival sources. In this particular case, the 1744 letter of attorney corresponds to cases in the Archivo General de la Nación.25

The multiscalar character of the Power of Attorney site allows visitors to toggle back and forth between local and transatlantic contexts. Zooming out from the parish of San Juan Tanetze to view the Google Earth map in figure 12 at its largest scale, one is immediately struck by the dense lines linking Villa Alta to Madrid. Behind this thick ligament lies a story that connected all of the Indian towns of the remote native district—from the most rustic village to the most populous parish seat—with Spain’s national bank. In early March of 1785, the municipal authorities of Villa Alta’s ninety-six native communities traversed forested slopes and hammocks slung across rivers to deliver a total of 27,700 pesos in silver specie to the Spanish magistrate of Villa Alta, investment monies destined for the newly formed national Bank of San Carlos. On March 8, the native authorities signed a letter of attorney authorizing don Juan Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, a Spanish intellectual, aristocrat, statesman, lawyer, and resident of Madrid to represent them as investors and shareholders in the bank.26

Digital Resources: Power of Attorney, A Digital Spatial History of Indigenous Legal Culture in Colonial Oaxaca, MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 12. Power of attorney relationships, 1785 letter of attorney.

Created by Sara Palmer, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, using Google Earth with Gephi plug-in.

Unlike the 1744 dispute over the location of the market in the parish of San Juan Tanetze, the role of New Spain’s native communities in the financing of the Bank of San Carlos is well-documented in the historiography.27 The bank was founded in 1782 during the late-18th-century Enlightenment-inspired reforms of Spain’s Bourbon monarchy. The bank was intended to stabilize Spain’s credit, increase the circulation of money in the empire, facilitate commerce, modernize the crown’s fiscal system, and service the crown’s internal and external debt, which had ballooned over a century of intermittent warfare with Spain’s European rivals. Wealthy Spanish and French rentiers were among the first investors, but the crown also looked across the ocean to its American holdings to seek further financing.28

In addition to the wealth of prominent Mexican creoles, the town treasuries of Indian towns in nineteen districts of New Spain—including Oaxaca—provided a major source of investment funding, making the native towns shareholders in Spain’s new national bank. The Indian towns of ten additional districts bought shares in the Royal Company of the Philippines (Compañía de las Filipinas), founded by royal decree in 1785 to increase trade between Spain and the Philippines.29 Although the 1785 letter of attorney from Villa Alta authorized payment for shares in the Bank of San Carlos, it appears that the money may have been invested in the Royal Company of the Philippines instead.30 Notably, both the bank and the Royal Company were linked through the person of Francisco Cabarrús, who had founded the former and directed the latter. Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos was a close associate of Cabarrús. But regardless of which of the two financial institutions received the silver from Villa Alta, the signatures on the letter of attorney had authorized only investment in the Bank of San Carlos.

The relative wealth of Villa Alta’s native towns (not all native districts were in a position to contribute funds) resulted from the persistence of indigenous landholding in the region; this made the town treasuries prime targets for royal officials.31 Bourbon policies aimed at controlling the administration of New Spain’s cajas de comunidad explain the liquidity of Villa Alta’s town treasuries. The Reglamentos de los pueblos de indios regulated spending to ensure that there would be a surplus of silver specie that could be siphoned off by the crown in the form of donativos universales (forced donations) and loans.32

Native investment in the Bank of San Carlos (and in the Royal Company of the Philippines) fits into the broader trend of the crown placing a double burden of taxation on Indian towns during moments of fiscal crisis. Throughout the colonial era, the crown periodically appropriated money from native treasuries through the mechanism of the donativo universal, which native heads of household had to pay in addition to their normal tribute and tax burden. During the final two decades of the 18th century, the regime of donativos became more intense.33 There has been some debate over the coercive or voluntary nature of late Bourbon-era donations and loans, which Spanish subjects across the social spectrum, from elite merchants to native communities, provided the crown. Some donativos—in particular, those categorized as donativos graciosos—were given voluntarily, motivated by the reciprocal ethos of Spanish pactismo: service to the crown in exchange for privileges and benefits. The donativos graciosos were particularly effective in the cases of Buenos Aires and the Río de la Plata, and some mission Indians were included among the donors.34 In the case of New Spain’s native people, though, the scenario was different.

Don Ramon Posada, the minister in charge of civil administration in Mexico (fiscal de lo civil), sought to convince Mexico’s Indian towns to buy shares in the bank. In March of 1783, he sent a circular to the governors of Mexico’s many provinces extolling the bank’s virtues and soliciting investment, which they in turn circulated to the pueblos de indios of their regions. There were no takers. Undaunted, Posada turned to more coercive measures, demanding audits of Indian town treasuries and requiring that “unproductive” funds be used to buy shares in the bank. The Audiencia of Mexico opposed Posada, arguing that the native towns should be free to choose whether or not to finance the bank. The high court’s position was grounded in its long-held pretension to be the “protector” of Indians; ultimately, the appeal to respect the Indians’ liberty won the day. The provincial governors (alcaldes mayores) were to gather together the native governors of their regions and explain to them the benefits of investing in the bank. In theory, it was up to the native governors to convince their municipal authorities whether to buy shares or not.35

Nominal respect for the Indians’ free will did not translate into an absence of coercion. Though powerful, the native governors were not the equals of their Spanish overlords. The alcaldes mayores of New Spain punished or removed native governors who fell short of delivering the tribute or goods they owed through the forced system of production known as the repartimiento. Although the Spanish king represented a benevolent, if distant, sovereign who was supposed to protect the interests and welfare of his indigenous subjects against the predations of local Spanish officials, decades of pressure on communal resources by local Spanish authorities outweighed the ethos of loyal vassalage. The universality of participation of Villa Alta’s communities—and of the communities of the other native districts that participated—suggests that there was successful coercion on the part of the Spanish magistrates. Why would every single community in the district have participated if they had been given the option not to? The decision of some districts and not others to purchase bank shares was likely attributable to a desire for privilege, bureaucratic promotion, or recognition by the Spanish magistrate—nurtured by pactismo—rather than to indigenous devotion to the king.36 Notably, in contrast with their elite counterparts in New Spain and elsewhere, the Indian towns received nothing in exchange for their donations, loans, and purchase of shares in the Bank of San Carlos. In 1834, when Spain’s parliamentary monarchy annulled the national debt, it effectively expropriated the native towns that had bought shares in the bank.37 The thick band of lines connecting Villa Alta with Madrid thus represents a one-way flow of resources from indigenous communities to the crown, part of a longer process of native dispossession by the crown.

What choice did Villa Alta’s native cabildos have when they designated don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos as their legal representative? According to royal edict, the native cabildos who purchased shares in the Bank of San Carlos were required to grant Jovellanos the power of attorney. The native towns had to pay for the transport of their investment in specie to Spain, where Jovellanos invested it in the bank and nominally represented their interests.38 That Jovellanos served as legal agent for New Spain’s indigenous investors followed an ironic logic. Jovellanos was an active participant in Enlightenment debates on economic matters, and an admirer of Adam Smith and English economic thought. He wrote a treatise on Spanish agriculture, Informe sobre el expediente de la ley agraria, which he completed in 1784, and finally published in 1795. The treatise advocated the disentailment of church property and communal lands in Spain, arguing that they hindered agricultural productivity and deterred private investment. Although Jovellanos’s proposals were not implemented in Spain, his ideas traveled across the Atlantic and influenced advocates of land reform in New Spain, such as Bishop Manuel Abad y Queipo.39 In short, Jovellanos, who had been charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of indigenous investors in the Bank of San Carlos, also provided fodder for the dissolution of the material basis of their communal identity and political semi-sovereignty.

The 1785 letter of attorney signed by all ninety-six native towns of Villa Alta is digitally reproduced on the Power of Attorney website. It is by far the most complex and longest letter of attorney in colonial Villa Alta’s civil archive, and it contains a wealth of information: the names of every native official of each of Villa Alta’s pueblos de indios and the amount each town paid in silver pesos to buy shares in the Bank of San Carlos. It also contains the signatures of each cabildo member, which makes it a rich resource for scholars interested in native literacy and writing in the region. Like the 1744 letter of attorney, it can be used as a lead to finding more archival material and as a way of understanding a metropolitan story from the local perspective of the “lettered mountains” of Oaxaca.40

Power of Attorney underscores the significance of scale in the historical analysis of native legal agency. The 18th-century Villa Alta maps and Gephi model demonstrate a rise in grants of power of attorney by native towns over the course of the 18th century and a rise in the number of grants going to indigenous legal agents. This historical trend points to greater native legal agency on a local scale: more legal activity on the part of Villa Alta’s native towns and more Villa Alta natives acting as legal agents over predominantly local and territorial matters. Local native legal agency intersected with another 18th-century trend: the dispossession of native communal resources held in the region’s cajas de comunidad and more generalized pressure on land. Indeed, a central question Power of Attorney raises concerns the relationship between these two 18th-century trends. Each line connecting the granting towns to the larger centers where legal agents resided indicates a flow of power and resources. On top of native dispossession, money flowed out of the town treasuries to pay for legal representation. Native legal agency introduced new forms of inequality among native people that moved resources out of communities into the coffers of a growing stratum of native legal practitioners. In these ways, Villa Alta’s corpus of 18th-century letters of attorney authorized by native cabildos provides a gauge for the increasing pressure on communal resources exerted by these mutually reinforcing 18th-century processes.

The problem of scale has proved to be an especially thorny one for Mesoamerican ethnohistory. Detailed narratives of ethnic diversity and indigenous social life focused at the local or community level have enormously enriched the historical knowledge and at the same time hived the subdiscipline off from broader imperial histories. By operating at multiple jurisdictional and spatial scales, ethnohistories of law have the potential to bridge this gap. The Power of Attorney maps, visualizations, and data for 18th-century Villa Alta achieve this by weaving together a transatlantic fiscal history with a local history of native adaptation, innovation, and legal agency.

Further Reading

Arrioja Díaz Viruell, and Luis Alberto. Pueblos de indios y tierras comunales Villa Alta, Oaxaca, 1742–1856. Zamora, Mexico: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2011.Find this resource:

    Aslanian, Sebouh David, Joyce E. Chaplin, Ann McGrath, and Kristin Mann. “AHR Conversation How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History.” American Historical Review 118, no. 5 (2013): 1431–1472.Find this resource:

      Benton, Lauren. A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

        Borah, Woodrow. Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aids of the Half-Real. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.Find this resource:

          Brading, D. A. The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriot and the Liberal State 1492–1867. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

            Calderón Quijano, and José Antonio. El Banco de San Carlos y las comunidades de indios de Nueva España. Sevilla, Spain: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1963.Find this resource:

              Castro Gutiérrez, Felipe. (coord.). Los indios y las ciudades de Nueva España. México City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2010.Find this resource:

                Chance, John K. Conquest of the Sierra: Spaniards and Indians in Colonial Oaxaca. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.Find this resource:

                  Daniels, Christine, and Michael V. Kennedy, eds. Negotiated Empires: Centers and Peripheries in the Americas, 1500–1820. New York: Routledge, 2013.Find this resource:

                    van Deusen, Nancy E. Global Indios: The Indigenous Struggle for Justice in Sixteenth-Century Spain. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                      Erbig, Jeffrey Alan, Jr. Imperial Lines, Indigenous Lands: Transforming Territorialities of the Río de la Plata, 1680–1805. PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015.Find this resource:

                        Grafe, Regina, and Alejandra Irigoin. “A Stakeholder Empire: The Political Economy of Spanish Imperial Rule in America.” Economic History Review 65, no. 2 (2012): 609–651.Find this resource:

                          Graubart, Karen B. “Toward Connectedness and Place.” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 233–235.Find this resource:

                            Graubart, Karen B. “Competing Spanish and Indigenous Jurisdictions in Early Colonial Lima.” Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Latin American History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

                              Grieco, Viviana L. The Politics of Giving in the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata: Donors, Lenders, Subjects, and Citizens. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                Hämäläinen, Pekka. “Lost in Transitions: Suffering, Survival, and Belonging in the Early Modern Atlantic World.” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 219–223.Find this resource:

                                  Hamilton, Earl. “Plans for a National Bank in Spain, 1701–1783.” Journal of Political Economy 58, no. 3 (1949): 315–336.Find this resource:

                                    Herzog, Tamar. “Colonial Law and ‘Native Customs’: Indigenous Land Rights in Colonial Spanish America.” Americas 69, no. 3 (2013): 303–321.Find this resource:

                                      Kuethe, Allan J., and Kenneth J. Andrien. The Spanish Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century: War and the Bourbon Reforms, 1713–1796. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                        Mangan, Jane. Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

                                          Marichal, Carlos. Bankruptcy of Empire: Mexican Silver and the Wars between Spain, Britain and France, 1760–1810. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

                                            Matthew, Laura E. Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                              Mundy, Barbara E. The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                                O’Toole, Rachel Sarah. Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                  Owensby, Brian P. Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                    Premo, Bianca. The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                                                      Puente Luna, José Carlos de la. Andean Cosmopolitans: Seeking Justice and Reward at the Spanish Royal Court. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018.Find this resource:

                                                        Rama, Angel. The Lettered City. Translated by John Charles Chasteen. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

                                                          Restall, Matthew, and Rebekah Martin. “The New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mesoamerica.” Oxford Bibliographies: Latin American Studies, May 28, 2013.Find this resource:

                                                            Roller, Heather. Amazonian Routes: Indigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                                              Romero Frizzi, María de los Ángeles. Economía y vida de los españoles en la Mixteca Alta, 1519–1720. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1990.Find this resource:

                                                                Romero Frizzi, María de los Ángeles. “Los caminos de Oaxaca.” In Rutas de la Nueva España. Edited by Chantal Cramaussel, 119–136. Zamora, Mexico: Colegio de Michoacán, 2006.Find this resource:

                                                                  Romero Frizzi, María de los Ángeles. “The Power of the Law: The Construction of Colonial Power in an Indigenous Region.” In Negotiation within Domination: Colonial New Spain’s Indian Pueblos Confront the Spanish State. Edited by Ethelia Ruiz Medrano and Susan Kellogg. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2010.Find this resource:

                                                                    Ruiz Medrano, Ethelia. Mexico’s Indigenous Communities: Their Lands and Histories, 1500–2010. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2011.Find this resource:

                                                                      Salomon, Frank, and Mercedes Niño-Murcia. The Lettered Mountain: A Peruvian Village’s Way with Writing. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                                                                        Sánchez Silva, Carlos. Indios, comerciantes y burocracia en la Oaxaca poscolonial, 1786–1860. Oaxaca: IOC-UABJO, 1998.Find this resource:

                                                                          Saunt, Claudio. “The Indians’ Old World.” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 215–218.Find this resource:

                                                                            Sellers-García, Sylvia. Distance and Documents at the Spanish Empire’s Periphery. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

                                                                              Sidbury, James, and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra. “Mapping Ethnogenesis in the Early Modern Atlantic.” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 181–208.Find this resource:

                                                                                Sidbury, James, and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra. “On the Genesis of Destruction, and Other Missing Subjects.” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 240–246.Find this resource:

                                                                                  Spores, Ronald. The Mixtec Kings and Their People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967.Find this resource:

                                                                                    Spores, Ronald. The Mixtecs in Ancient and Colonial Times. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984.Find this resource:

                                                                                      Tanck de Estrada, Dorothy. Pueblos de indios y educación en el México colonial: 1750–1821. Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1999.Find this resource:

                                                                                        Tavárez, David. The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                                                                                          Taylor, William B. “Between Global Process and Local Knowledge: An Inquiry into Early Latin American Social History, 1500–1900.” In Reliving the Past: The Worlds of Social History. Edited by Oliver Zunz. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.Find this resource:

                                                                                            Tedde, Pedro. El Banco de San Carlos (1782–1829). Madrid, Spain: Alianza Editorial, 1988.Find this resource:

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

                                                                                                Velasco Murillo, Dana. Urban Indians in a Silver City: Zacatecas, Mexico, 1546–1810. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

                                                                                                  Velasco Murillo, Dana, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa, eds. City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810. Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                                                                    Warf, Barney, and Santa Arias, eds. The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                                                                      Wigen, Kären. “Introduction” to AHR Forum “Oceans of History.” American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (2006): 717–721.Find this resource:

                                                                                                        Withers, Charles W. J. “Place and the ‘Spatial Turn’ in Geography and in History.” Journal of the History of Ideas 70, no. 4 (2009): 637–658.Find this resource:

                                                                                                          Wolf, Eric R. Europe and the People without History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.Find this resource:

                                                                                                            Wood, Stephanie, and Amos Megged, eds. Mesoamerican Memory: Enduring Systems of Remembrance. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                                                                              Yannakakis, Yanna. The Art of Being In-Between: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                                                                                Yannakakis, Yanna. “‘Costumbre’: A Language of Negotiation in Eighteenth-Century Oaxaca.” In Negotiation within Domination: Colonial New Spain’s Indian Pueblos Confront the Spanish State. Edited by Ethelia Ruiz Medrano and Susan Kellogg, 137–171. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2010.Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  Yannakakis, Yanna. “Indigenous People and Legal Culture in Spanish America.” History Compass 11, no. 11 (2013): 931–947.Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    Yannakakis, Yanna, and Martina Schrader-Kniffki. “Between the Old Law and the New: Christian Translation, Indian Jurisdiction, and Criminal Justice in Colonial Oaxaca.” Hispanic American Historical Review 96, no. 3 (2016): 517–548.Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      Notes:

                                                                                                                      (1.) Barney Warf, and Santa Arias, eds., The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2008); Charles W. J. Withers, “Place and the ‘Spatial Turn’ in Geography and in History,” Journal of the History of Ideas 70, no. 4 (2009): 637–658; Kären Wigen, “Introduction” to AHR Forum “Oceans of History,” American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (2006): 717–721; Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009); and Sebouh David Aslanian, Joyce E. Chaplin, Ann McGrath, and Kristin Mann, “AHR Conversation How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History,” American Historical Review 118, no. 5 (2013): 1431–1472.

                                                                                                                      (2.) Heather Roller, Amazonian Routes: Indigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014); Jeffrey Alan Erbig Jr., Imperial Lines, Indigenous Lands: Transforming Territorialities of the Río de la Plata, 1680–1805 (PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015); Laura E. Matthew, Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); Rachel Sarah O’Toole, Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012); and José Carlos de la Puente Luna, Andean Cosmopolitans: Seeking Justice and Reward at the Spanish Royal Court (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018).

                                                                                                                      (3.) For an overview of the literature, see Matthew Restall and Rebekah Martin, “The New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mesoamerica,” Oxford Bibliographies, Latin American Studies, May 28, 2013.

                                                                                                                      (4.) Barbara E. Mundy, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015); Dana Velasco Murillo, Urban Indians in a Silver City: Zacatecas, Mexico, 1546–1810 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016); Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa, eds., City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810 (Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic, 2012); and Felipe Castro Gutiérrez, coord., Los indios y las ciudades de Nueva España (Mexico City: UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 2010).

                                                                                                                      (5.) On the problematic relationship of native histories to the field of Atlantic history, see selected essays from the William and Mary Quarterly forum “Ethnogenesis”: James Cañizares-Esguerra and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, “Mapping Ethnogenesis in the Early Modern Atlantic,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 181–208; Claudio Saunt, “The Indians’ Old World,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 215–218; Pekka Hämäläinen, “Lost in Transitions: Suffering, Survival, and Belonging in the Early Modern Atlantic World,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 219–223; Karen B. Graubart, “Toward Connectedness and Place,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 233–235; and James Sidbury and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, “On the Genesis of Destruction, and Other Missing Subjects,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 240–246.

                                                                                                                      (6.) Nancy E. van Deusen, Global Indios: The Indigenous Struggle for Justice in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015); and Puente Luna, Andean Cosmopolitans

                                                                                                                      (7.) In his classic essay on the social history of colonial Latin America, William Taylor borrows this apt expression from Eric Wolf. See Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People without History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 9, 17, 355, cited in William B. Taylor, “Between Global Process and Local Knowledge: An Inquiry into Early Latin American Social History, 1500–1900,” in Reliving the Past: The Worlds of Social History, ed. Olivier Zunz (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 115–190.

                                                                                                                      (8.) Woodrow Borah, Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aids of the Half-Real (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); Tamar Herzog, “Colonial Law and ‘Native Customs’: Indigenous Land Rights in Colonial Spanish America,” Americas 69, no. 3 (2013): 303–321; Ethelia Ruiz Medrano, Mexico’s Indigenous Communities: Their Lands and Histories, 1500–2010 (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2011); and Brian P. Owensby, Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008).

                                                                                                                      (9.) Karen Graubart, “Competing Spanish and Indigenous Jurisdictions in Early Colonial Lima,” Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Latin American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); Yanna Yannakakis and Martina Schrader-Kniffki, “Between the Old Law and the New: Christian Translation, Indian Jurisdiction, and Criminal Justice in Colonial Oaxaca,” Hispanic American Historical Review 96, no.3 (2016): 517–548.

                                                                                                                      (10.) For an overview of the literature, see Yanna Yannakakis, “Indigenous People and Legal Culture in Spanish America,” History Compass 11, no. 11 (2013): 931–947.

                                                                                                                      (11.) This process is captured well by María de los Ángeles Romero Frizzi, “The Power of the Law: The Construction of Colonial Power in an Indigenous Region,” in Negotiation within Domination: Colonial New Spain’s Indian Pueblos Confront the Spanish State, ed. Ethelia Ruiz Medrano and Susan Kellogg (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2010), 107–136.

                                                                                                                      (12.) Sylvia Sellers-García, Distance and Documents at the Spanish Empire’s Periphery (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013); Christine Daniels and Michael V. Kennedy, eds., Negotiated Empires: Centers and Peripheries in the Americas, 1500–1820 (New York: Routledge, 2013).

                                                                                                                      (13.) Stephanie Wood and Amos Megged, eds., Mesoamerican Memory: Enduring Systems of Remembrance (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012).

                                                                                                                      (14.) Bianca Premo, The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

                                                                                                                      (15.) Jane Mangan, Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); De la Puente Luna, Andean Cosmopolitans.

                                                                                                                      (16.) María de los Ángeles Romero Frizzi, “Los caminos de Oaxaca,” in Rutas de la Nueva España, ed. Chantal Cramaussel (Zamora, Mexico: Colegio de Michoacán, 2006), 119–136.

                                                                                                                      (17.) Ronald Spores, The Mixtec Kings and Their People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967); Spores, The Mixtecs in Ancient and Colonial Times (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984); María de los Angeles Romero Frizzi, Economía y vida de los españoles en la Mixteca Alta, 1519–1720 (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1990); Kevin Terraciano, The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca: Ñudzahui History, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001); and John K. Chance, Conquest of the Sierra: Spaniards and Indians in Colonial Oaxaca (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989).

                                                                                                                      (18.) The population figures are taken from Chance and correspond to the 1703 and 1742 censuses. See Chance, Conquest of the Sierra, 62. On extirpation, the Cajonos Rebellion, and the secularization of parishes that followed, see Chance, 159–168; Yanna Yannakakis, The Art of Being In-Between: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 65–99; and David Tavárez, The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011).

                                                                                                                      (19.) On 18th-century demography, see Chance, Conquest of the Sierra, 46–88; and Louis Alberto Arrioja Díaz Viruell, Pueblos de indios y tierras comunales Villa Alta, Oaxaca, 1742–1856 (Zamora, Mexico: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2011), 95–130. On the repartimiento de cochinilla, see Chance, 89–122. On peak repartimiento production between 1756–1786, see Carlos Sánchez Silva, Indios, comerciantes y burocracia en la Oaxaca poscolonial, 1786–1860 (Oaxaca, Mexico: IOC-UABJO, 1998), 100–102. On parcelization and agrarian economy, see Arrioja Díaz Viruell, Pueblos de indios y tierras comunales.

                                                                                                                      (20.) Arrioja Díaz Viruell, Pueblos de indios y tierras comunales, 208, 255–256, 276, 401; Dorothy Tanck de Estrada, Pueblos de indios y educación en el México colonial: 1750–1821 (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1999), 21–22, 115–152; and Carlos Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire: Mexican Silver and the Wars between Spain, Britain and France, 1760–1810 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 88–96, 246–247, 249.

                                                                                                                      (21.) On increased litigation throughout the Spanish empire, especially in the colonies, see Premo, Enlightenment on Trial.

                                                                                                                      (22.) Chance, Conquest of the Sierra; and Tanck de Estrada, Pueblos de indios y educación.

                                                                                                                      (23.) Archivo Histórico Judicial de Oaxaca, Villa Alta Civil Leg.11 Exp.26.08 1744.

                                                                                                                      (24.) Yannakakis, Art of Being In-Between, 99–130; Yanna Yannakakis, “‘Costumbre’: A Language of Negotiation in Eighteenth Century Oaxaca,” in Negotiation within Domination, 137–171.

                                                                                                                      (25.) Archivo General de la Nación, Tierras, vol. 2771, exp. 8 (1743), 6 fols., “Expediente formado a pedimento del comun y naturales del pueblo de San Juan Yaee de la jurisdicción de la Villa Alta sobre el tianguis que se hace en dicho pueblo”; and Archivo General de la Nación Tierras, vol. 2771, exp. 10 (1744), fols. 0–44v, “Autos que siguen los naturales de los pueblos de San Juan Taneche y otros de la jurisdicción de la Villa Alta con el comun de los naturales de los pueblos de San Juan Yaee de la misma jurisdicción sobre la celebración del tianguis y mercado.”

                                                                                                                      (26.) Archivo Histórico Judicial de Oaxaca, Villa Alta Civil Legajo 25 Exp.6.01 1785.

                                                                                                                      (27.) José Antonio Calderón Quijano, El Banco de San Carlos y las comunidades de indios de Nueva España (Sevilla, Spain: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1963); Tanck de Estrada, Pueblos de indios y educación; and Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire.

                                                                                                                      (28.) Earl Hamilton, “Plans for a National Bank in Spain, 1701–1783,” Journal of Political Economy 58, no. 3 (1949): 315–336; Pedro Tedde, El Banco de San Carlos (1782–1829) (Madrid, Spain: Alianza Editorial, 1988). On the relationship between war and fiscal reform during the Bourbon era more broadly, see Allan J. Kuethe and Kenneth J. Andrien, The Spanish Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century: War and the Bourbon Reforms, 1713–1796 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

                                                                                                                      (29.) Tanck de Estrada, Pueblos de indios y educación, 119; and Calderon Quijano, El Banco de San Carlos y las comunidades de indios, 62–72.

                                                                                                                      (30.) Tanck de Estrada, 120.

                                                                                                                      (31.) “Nota de los caudales que debe existir en las Caxas de Comunidad en las jurisdicciones sugetas a esta Contaduria General (de la Nueva España), según las cuentas remitidas por los respectivos justicias, deducidas y a las cantidades que de estos fondos se impusieron en el Banco Nacional de San Carlos, y las que igualmente se erogaron en otros gastos indispensables en virtud del superior permiso.” Archivo General de la Nación, Intendencias, t.3, 1783–1785, fs. 188–192, cited in Sánchez Silva, Indios, comerciantes y burocracia, 67–68.

                                                                                                                      (32.) Tanck de Estrada, Pueblos de indios y educación, 77–152.

                                                                                                                      (33.) Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire, 46.

                                                                                                                      (34.) On the Spanish crown as a predatory state with a coercive regime of taxation, see Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire; on the voluntary nature of loans, donations, and, especially, donativos graciosos, see Viviana L. Grieco, The Politics of Giving in the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata: Donors, Lenders, Subjects, and Citizens (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014). For a wholesale challenge to Marichal’s argument regarding Mexico’s role as a “fiscal submetropolis,” see Regina Grafe and Alejandra Irigoin, “A Stakeholder Empire: The Political Economy of Spanish Imperial Rule in America,” Economic History Review 65, no. 2 (2012): 609–651.

                                                                                                                      (35.) Calderón Quijano, El Banco de San Carlos, 27–31.

                                                                                                                      (36.) Marichal makes the case for coercion of indigenous communities using the argument of universal participation. See Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire, 88–96.

                                                                                                                      (37.) Calderon Quijano, El Banco de San Carlos, 141.

                                                                                                                      (38.) Calderon Quijano, 32–34.

                                                                                                                      (39.) D. A. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriot and the Liberal State 1492–1867 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 507–598.

                                                                                                                      (40.) Salomon and Niño-Murcia use this term as a way of challenging the assumption associated with Angel Rama’s concept of the “lettered city” that literacy pertained to urban areas and people of European descent. Angel Rama, The Lettered City, trans. John Charles Chasteen (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996); and Frank Salomon and Mercedes Niño-Murcia, The Lettered Mountain: A Peruvian Village’s Way with Writing (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).