Latin American Studies

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Tobacco, Reform, and Violence in Eighteenth-Century Papantla, Mexico

Jake Frederick is professor of history at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. He has published articles on native political factionalism and race in colonial Mexico in Ethnohistory, The Americas, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. His Spanish Dollars and Sister Republics: The Money That Made Mexico and the United States, written with Dr. Tatiana Seijas, was published in 2017.

Riot!: Tobacco, Reform, and Violence in Eighteenth-Century Papantla, Mexico is an exploration of the Totonac native community of Papantla, Veracruz, during the last half of the eighteenth century. Told through the lens of violent revolt, Riot! is the first book-length study devoted to Papantla during the colonial era. Riot! tells the story of a native community confronting significant disruption of its agricultural tradition, and the violence that change provoked. Papantla’s story is told in the form of an investigation into the political, social, and ethnic experience of an agrarian community. The Bourbon monopolization of tobacco in 1764 disturbed a fragile balance, and pushed long-term native frustrations to the point of violence. Through the stories of four uprisings, Jake Frederick examines the Totonac’s increasingly difficult economic environment, their view of justice, and their political tactics. Riot! argues that for the native community of Papantla, the nature of colonial rule was, even in the waning decades of the colonial era, a process of negotiation rather than subjugation.

The second half of the eighteenth century saw an increase in collective violence across the Spanish American colonies as communities reacted to the strains imposed by the various Bourbon reforms. Riot! provides a much needed exploration of what the colony-wide policy reforms of Bourbon Spain meant on the ground in rural communities in New Spain. The narrative of each uprising draws the reader into the crisis as it unfolds, providing an entrée into an analysis of the event. The focus on the community provides a new understanding of the demographics of this rural community, including an account of the as yet unexamined black population of Papantla.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-816-9
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $69.95
Release Date: October 2016
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-018-7
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: June 2019
Page Extent / Format: 220 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes




Chapter 1
A Geographic and Historical Biography of a C'achiqu'ín

Chapter 2
Los Ausentes: The Ethnic Landscape and Reflections on 1787

Chapter 3
“Cachípat, Cachípat . . . Get him, Get him”:
Collective violence and the Uprising of 1736

Chapter 4
“Tobacco for Snuff or Tobacco for Smoking, It is all Vice”: Bourbon Reforms and the Uprising of 1764

Chapter 5
“Kill That Dog of an Alcalde Mayor”: Repartimientos and Uprising in 1767

Chapter 6
A Fractured Pochguin: Local Factionalism and the Uprising of 1787




The author masterfully provides us with new insights into significant themes related to the post-1759 Bourbon Reforms and their impacts on the delicate power balance between colonial rulers and subordinate populations at the local level and beyond in New Spain. This relatively short but well researched, written, and reasoned work will significantly add to scholars’ and students’ understanding of economic, political, and social tensions in Mexico’s late colonial racially and ethnically complex society.
Dr. Patrick Carroll, retired professor of history at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi and author of many works on Blacks in Colonial Mexico, including Blacks in Colonial Veracruz

While not shying away from the grim realities of colonial exploitation, Frederick explores the causes and complexities of Totonac rebellions in eighteenth-century Mexico with a keen eye and a lively tone. A succinct and readable study, Riot! is ideal for graduate seminars and other discussion settings.
Matthew Restall, author of The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan and Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

Through six 18th-century uprisings in the town of Papantla, Veracruz, Frederick examines how the native Totonac perceptions of their own political abilities, their increasingly difficult economic environment, and their sense of justice changed in the wake of colonial reform. Ultimately, he says, the violence of the last half of the 18th century demonstrates how, for the Totonac subjects of Spanish role, colonialism — even in the final decades of Spanish dominion — was an ongoing process of negotiation. He covers a geographic and historical biography of a C’achiqu’in, the ethnic landscape and reflections on 1787, collective violence and the uprising of 1736, Bourbon reforms and the uprising of 1764, repartimientos and uprising in 1767, and local factionalism and the uprising of 1787.

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