Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

Workshop: "Radical Politics in 16th Century ‘Spanish’ America: The Continental Mobilization of Indigenous Slaves and Commoners," by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, University of Texas at Austin

Mon, September 16, 2019 | GAR 4.100

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

This paper is part of a larger book "Radical Petitioning Empire" (Harvard, forthcoming) co-authored with Adrian Masters (University of Tübingen). The chapter seeks to demonstrate how legislation on indigenous slavery and abolitionism kept on changing throughout the 16th century in Spanish America as a result of grassroots lobbying and petitioning, creating a vast mobilization of slaves and new religious discourses and institutions. The mobilization of slaves via petitioning and litigation was part of a larger mobilization of indigenous commoners who challenged not only slavers and conquistadors but also local and regional indigenous lords. Deploying the discourse of cacique tyranny first invented by abolitionists, slaves, oppressed ethnic groups, and commoners created new communities (pueblos and cities) throughout the continent. Paradoxically, these new communities partly recreated the hierarchies and dynastic genealogies of the toppled ancien regime yet within new republican European institutions, including division of power and electoral rotation of authorities (governors, alcaldes and regidores). Deracinated indigenous commoners deliberately moved to “Spanish” cities where there were opportunities to amass large fortunes through myriad new artisanal-mercantile trades. Traditional indigenous elites also used “Spanish” cities to consolidate power, transforming communal lands into patrimonial property and haciendas to serve rapidly developing local and global trades. New ascending commoners and old indigenous elites engaged thereafter in battles over the control of sacred public and private urban Catholic spaces. Individuals (including many women) used the vast petitioning systems of the Catholic Church to create new indigenous religious brotherhoods (cofradias), secure papal briefs and relics, and build new chapels to inter family bones and commemorate old and new authority and wealth. These mortuary battles both established new lineages and contributed to the rapid spread of churches and Christian cults in the hemisphere..

Dr. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra is the Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. His most recent publications include Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), Encounters between Jesuits and Protestants in Asia and the Americas (Brill, 2018), and “On Ignored Global Scientific Revolutions” (Journal of Early Modern History, 2017). He is a Fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies in 2019-20.

José Carlos de la Puente
Fellow, Institute for Historical Studies
Associate Professor of History, Texas State University

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to by Sep. 13, at 10am, to sign-up to attend. Light lunch provided to all who RSVP. The Institute for Historical Studies is committed to sustainable practices and minimizing waste. To that end, we ask that you inform us in your RSVP if you will not require lunch.  In addition, we have eliminated all bottled water and encourage attendees to bring their own reusable canteens to fill at our first-floor bottle-refilling station.

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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