Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 / Edition 1

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Overview

Wandering Peoples is a chronicle of cultural resiliency, colonial relations, and trespassed frontiers in the borderlands of a changing Spanish empire. Focusing on the native subjects of Sonora in Northwestern Mexico, Cynthia Radding explores the social process of peasant class formation and the cultural persistence of Indian communities during the long transitional period between Spanish colonialism and Mexican national rule. Throughout this anthropological history, Radding presents multilayered meanings of culture, community, and ecology, and discusses both the colonial policies to which peasant communities were subjected and the responses they developed to adapt and resist them. Radding describes this colonial mission not merely as an instance of Iberian expansion but as a site of cultural and political confrontation. This alternative vision of colonialism emphasizes the economic links between mission communities and Spanish mercantilist policies, the biological consequences of the Spanish policy of forced congregacion, and the cultural and ecological displacements set in motion by the practices of discipline and surveillance established by the religious orders. Addressing wider issues pertaining to ethnic identities and to ecological and cultural borders, Radding's analysis also underscores the parallel production of colonial and subaltern texts during the course of a 150-year struggle for power and survival.

"Balanced and thorough work on colonial and early-19th-century Sonora and Sinaloa combines historical and ethnohistorical methodologies, narratives, statistical data, and analysis of the changing relations among Indians, villagers, miners, missionaries, and the state. Describes and analyzes the changes in Indian communities. Discussion of the transition between colony and independent Mexico provides a vision of changes and continuities. Exceptionally wide collection of sources"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Examines the persistence of ethnic polity and peasant economy among the native peoples of Sonora during the time of transition from the Spanish Imperium to the Mexican Republic. Treating the Mexican frontier missions as a site of political and cultural confrontation rather than just instruments of Iberian expansion, the author explores the biological consequences of Spanish policies of forced n/> and the cultural and physical displacement caused by the practices of the religious orders. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

Wandering Peoples is an example of regional history at its best. Cynthia Radding is one of the finest practitioners in the emerging field of Latin American ecological history; indeed, she is playing a major role in shaping the field. This book is an important and innovative contribution to colonial Mexican studies and will resonate with scholars working on any part of the globe who are engaged with its key themes.”—Ann Wightman, Wesleyan University

“Here, for the first time, we get an extensive treatment of the ‘ordinary’ men and women who populated the missions, presidios, mining camps, and other settlements of Sonora—they have names, identities, agendas, and complex strategies for coping with the multiple demands they face. Those specializing in other geographical areas—not just Latin Americanists—would do well to consider the concrete grounding of this working model.”—Cheryl Martin, The University of Texas, El Paso

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822318996
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: Latin America Otherwise Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia Radding is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Table of Contents

About the Series
List of Illustrations
Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction: The Social Ecology of the Sonoran Frontier 1
Pt. 1 Los Sonoras and the Iberian Invasion of Northwestern Mexico
1 Ethnic Frontiers in the Sonoran Desert 21
2 Amerindian Economy in Sonora 47
3 Native Livelihood and the Colonial Economy 63
Pt. 2 The Intimate Sphere of Ethnicity: Household and Community
4 Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Formation in Sonora 103
5 "Gypseys" and Villagers: Shifting Communities and Changing Ethnic Identities in Highland Sonora 142
Pt. 3 Rival Proprietors and Changing Forms of Land Tenure
6 Land and the Indian Comun 171
7 Peasants, Hacendados, and Merchants: The Cultural Differentiation of Sonoran Society 208
Pt. 4 Ethnogenesis and Resistant Adaptation
8 Cultural Endurance and Accommodation to Spanish Rule 249
9 Patterns of Mobilization 264
Conclusions: Contested Space 302
Notes 311
Glossary 357
Select Bibliography 363
Index 391
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2000

    Sonora: History of Indigenous Peoples

    Reading 'Wandering Peoples' brought to my mind a pleasant afternoon I spent several years ago traveling from San Ignacio Rio Mayo, Sonora, to Alamos, Sonora, with four Mexican friends, at least two of whom occasionally referred to themselves as Mayo Indians. We were going to Alamos because one my friends, Joel Casaraz, wanted a treatment from 'Don Juanito', a 'real Indian' who was famous as a 'sobador' or masseuse. We developed quite a discussion as to just what it means to be 'Indian' in Sonora, since two of my companions considered themselves 'Mayo Indians' but not 'real Indians' like 'Don Juanito.' We wondered why certain other people we knew were 'Mexicans,' 'real Indians' or something in between. Our results came down to differences in life style, dress (they wore boots, he wore sandals) and language (they spoke primarily Spanish, he spoke very fluent Mayo). But they all had the same Mayo genes, were similar in appearance, and had grown up in Mayo speaking villages. Finally, Jonatan Ramirez gave the conclusion we all accepted: to really understand you've just got to know the history of these lands for the last five hundred years! I welcome a book like Wandering Peoples for the insight it gives into that history. Someone seriously interested in the history of Sonora and its peoples will want to go become acquainted with this book. There are chapters meriting study from the historian, and other chapters are more for an anthropologist. Wandering Peoples deals with the late Colonial to early National period in central and northern Sonora. Radding knows her stuff, and shows an intimate knowledge of the region and its history. I especially appreciated understanding of the variation in interests among Spanish and Indian groups. She defines 'social ecology' as an approach based in the ecological relations that guide the 'political implications of resource allocation,' and determines how people 'ascribe cultural values to their claims to land and labor.' Clearly, the indigenous peoples had very different concepts of land use and mobility that would directly clash with the Spanish agenda. There is a good discussion of native history both before and after the arrival of the Europeans, in particular describing land-use patterns that conflicted with Spanish concepts. There is a good treatment of the difficulties imposed by the climate and the unstable nature of agricultural production, and how these forced a dispersed settlement pattern. It seems almost surreal how little things have changed: lack of water is the major obstacle to life and development in Hermosillo and most of Sonora to this day. The discussion of the pre-Columbian archaeology is quite good. She focuses especially on the Trincheras and Rio Sonora traditions. There follows the history of Spanish colonial exploitation of Sonora differed primarily because of the lack of large-scale polities that could be easily tapped into, and due to the degree of nomadism practiced by northern groups. The Crown relied on evangelization for a Spanish presence, primarily embodied in members of the Jesuit order, such as Padre Eusebio Kino. The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 left other Spanish colonists free to ensnare the Indians in debt servitude, even as Bourbon reforms continued to break up communal lands into private holdings. Radding explains how Indian households responded by becoming considerably more flexible; they accepted new members who had lost their own families, and temporary sexual unions formed while males were away at mining camps. These impermanent family structures clashed with Spanish, particularly missionary, ideals, and were yet another source of ethnic conflict. The migration of Indians away from the missions undermined the communal land system, the invasion of the region by cattle herds led to increased erosion and destruction of agricultural land. Men joining the military for long campaigns against the raiding, no

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