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  You are in: Home > First Nations > City Indians in Spain’s American Empire  

City Indians in Spain’s American Empire
Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810

In the series:
First Nations and the Colonial Encounter

Edited by Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa

Dana Velasco Murillo is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.

Mark Lentz is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Margarita R. Ochoa is is Assistant Professor of Latin American history at Loyola Marymount University.


City Indians presents pioneering histories of urban Indians in early Latin America. An important but understudied segment of colonial society, urban Indians composed a majority of the population of Spanish America's most important cities. This volume spans a good part of the Americas, from Northern Mexico to Peru, over the course of three centuries. The chapters address a wide variety of topics, from indigenous governance and interethnic interactions to migration and identity. Native nobles, chroniclers, textile workers, migrants, widows, orphans, and muleteers are among the protagonists of the study. This anthology, the first of its kind in English, demonstrates the importance of urban Indian contributions to Spanish American society in the colonial period and beyond.

Scholarly contributions include chapters by Susan Schroeder, “Whither Tenochtitlan? Chimalpahin and Mexico City, 1593–1631,” and David Cahill, “Ethnogenesis in the City: A Native Andean Etnia in a Colonial City.” The volume opens with commentary by John K. Chance, scholar of urban Indians in Latin America and author of Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca, and is summarized in “Concluding Remarks” by Kevin Terraciano, author of The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca: Ñudzahui History, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries.

List of Maps and Tables

Series Editors Preface, David Cahill
Editors' Preface

Introduction, John K. Chance

1. Alliance Building and the Restoration of Native Government in the Altepetl of Mexico
Tenochtitlan, 15211565, William F. Connell

2. Ethnogenesis in the City: A Native Andean Etnia in a Colonial City, David Cahill

3. Surviving the Colonial City: Native Peoples in Early Santiago de Guatemala, Robinson A.

4. Whither Tenochtitlan? Chimalpahin and Mexico City, 15931631, Susan Schroeder

5. “Much Too Worthy...”: Indians in Seventeenth-Century Lima, Paul Charney

6. Mine Workers and Weavers: Afro-Indigenous Labor Arrangements and Interactions in Puebla and Zacatecas, 16001700, Dana Velasco Murillo and Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva

7.Mi Tierra”: Indigenous Migrants and their Hometowns in the Colonial Andes, Gabriela

8. Fitting In: Urban Indians, Migrants, and Muleteers in Colonial Peru, Rachel Sarah OToole

9. Batabs of the Barrio: Urban Maya Rulers, Mérida, Yucatan, 16701806, Mark W. Lentz

10. Culture in Possessing: Land and Legal Practices among the Natives of Eighteenth-Century Mexico City, Margarita R. Ochoa

Concluding Remarks, Kevin Terraciano

List of Contributors


“Although both the Andes and Mesoamerica experienced centuries of urban development prior to the Spanish conquest, many historians and social scientists have tended to treat First Nations peoples resident in cities as deracinated, cut loose from their communities of origin, and therefore assumed to be less pristine and less authentically indigenous. The study of urban indigenous groups in the Americas has lagged behind that of rural communities. This volume, however, attests to a growing interest in the urban ethnohistory of colonial Spanish America. It spans the entire colonial era, from Tenochtitlan and Cuzco, the two great imperial capitals encountered by the Spaniards upon their arrival, to new colonial foundations: Lima, Puebla, Trujillo del Perú, Zacatecas, Mérida, and Santiago de Guatemala. All these cities contained large indigenous populations. This volume thus marks progress in understanding city Indians, relations between urban and rural groups, and an overall appreciation of the colonial experience of indigenous peoples in Spanish America.” From the Preface by First Nations Series Editor, David Cahill, University of New South Wales

City Indians in Spain’s American Empire shows that native societies not only endured the challenges of city life but also were critical to the development and maintenance of colonial societies as a whole. … The comparative nature of this volume shows the great diversity of experiences for urban Indians. … The chapters on the construction of identity illustrate the shifting landscapes of ethnicity in colonial cities. City Indians represents an important work that captures how indigenous societies were not simply the lower masses of colonial cities but rather were important, though overlooked, contributors to the colonial world. … A series of compelling chapters highlight how indigenous institutions operated under colonial urban conditions. This excellent volume explores the myriad methods of indigenous agency to show the malleability of indigenous societies within urban spaces across colonial Latin America.” Hispanic American Historical Review

“This pioneering collection of scholarly essays represents a significant step forward in knowledge of a hitherto neglected segment of urban society and signposts many directions for future research. It is a welcome addition to the literature on the social history of colonial Spanish America.”
Linda A. Newson, Institute of Latin American Studies and King’s College London, reviewing in the Journal of Latin American Studies


Publication Details

Hardback ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
272 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
Hardback December 2011: Paperback November 2013
  Illustrated:   No
Hardback Price:
£55.00 / $74.95
Paperback Price:
£25.00 / $34.95

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