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Hijos del Pueblo

Hijos del Pueblo: Gender, Family, and Community in Rural Mexico, 1730-1850

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  • Book Info
    Hijos del Pueblo
    Book Description:

    The everyday lives of indigenous and Spanish families in the countryside, a previously under-explored segment of Mexican cultural history, are now illuminated through the vivid narratives presented inHijos del Pueblo("offspring of the village"). Drawing on neglected civil and criminal judicial records from the Toluca region, Deborah Kanter revives the voices of native women and men, their Spanish neighbors, muleteers, and hacienda peons to showcase their struggles in an era of crisis and uncertainty (1730-1850).

    Engaging and meaningful biographies of indigenous villagers, female and male, illustrate that no scholar can understand the history of Mexican communities without taking gender seriously. In legal interactions native plaintiffs and Spanish jurists confronted essential questions of identity and hegemony. At once an insightful consideration of individual experiences and sweeping paternalistic power constructs,Hijos del Pueblocontributes important new findings to the realm of gender studies and the evolution of Latin America.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79388-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-12)

    In the Mexican countryside people often used the phrasehijos del pueblo. Translated as “offspring of the village,” the phrase evokes the vital relationship between family and community in past times and suggests the importance of birthplace in rural society. This kinship metaphor also signifies that a native individual owed deference to the larger community and that the community had responsibilities to its wards.

    The translation ofhijos del pueblointo English, however, is not so simple. As the phrase was used in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, “sons and daughters of the village” may be more accurate. Yet...

  6. ONE “LIKE THREE FEET IN ONE SHOE” The Toluca Region, 1730–1821
    (pp. 13-27)

    The most heavily traveled road into the Toluca region originated in Mexico City. Muleteers, Indian peddlers, and royal officials climbed out of the Valley of Mexico before crossing a steep, densely forested mountain pass. Below them lay the “very frigid Valley of Toluca and Metepec.” Visitors often glimpsed the wide valley and its plains “filled with fog over the population.”¹ Yet on a clear day the sight of expansive fertile fields, dotted by small villages and churches, greeted travelers as they descended into the valley.

    The Toluca valley is one of central Mexico’s three main highland basins (Mexico and Puebla...

  7. TWO HIJOS DEL PUEBLO The Limits of Community
    (pp. 28-36)

    Historians have long debated what it meant to belong to an Indian pueblo: How did Indians understand their place within their communities?Hijos del pueblo, the term Indians used to refer to themselves, suggested a certain obedience and subordination to the natal pueblo. There one paid tribute, served a turn in office, performed labor services, and respected the governing officers and elders. In turn, the pueblo and its officers cared for the hijos by granting them land, shielding them from direct contact with Spanish officials, defending the pueblo from outside threats, and maintaining public order.

    The termhijos del pueblo...

    (pp. 37-51)

    Patriarchy provided the model for the conduct of marriage and family. Most individuals, women included, supported the ideal of patriarchy and the mutual obligations it entailed. Yet the demands of daily life in Mexico, especially for indigenous people and the poor, made it difficult to comply with the patriarchal model. In many humble households wives controlled everyday affairs and husbands found their presumed authority in the marriage eroded. Despite these inconsistencies, husbands and wives, in-laws and neighbors, priests and judges, held fast to the patriarchal ideal and its expectations of male and female roles. When these expectations went unmet, marital...

  9. FOUR “NOT IN THE STREET” Households and the Meanings of Kinship
    (pp. 52-66)

    In rural Mexico people maintained intimate and dependable ties outside of the standard definitions of family. Servants and orphans sometimes provided companionship, aid, and trust that might be expected of children, aunts and uncles, or in-laws.¹ Mexicans idealized the house—as opposed to the street—as a protected space where patriarchs ruled, thus limiting relationships that went beyond their door, especially for women.

    The household offers an appropriate and revealing unit of analysis for early Mexico. James Lockhart points out that in Nahuatl sources, “no word appears that would have approximately the same scope as English ‘family.’” Rather, “the terms...

    (pp. 67-81)

    Order in Mexico was achieved by hierarchical and patriarchal rule whereby commoners deferred to officials, wives to husbands, and children to parents. The three incidents described here involve women and men who refused to assume the subordinate role appropriate to their position. Each incident revolved around a public event witnessed by a range of people: a brawl in a store, name-calling on the street, and mistreatment in the village jail. Each served as a community-wide lesson about appropriate behavior with respect to an individual’s gender, social standing, age, occupation, and family. To understand popular notions of hierarchy and order, we...

  11. SIX NEITHER ALONE NOR FREE Women in Depósito
    (pp. 82-96)

    Two incidents that occurred in Indian villages, both dating from 1792, illustratedepósito, a loosely regulated practice whereby women were sequestered in private houses or with parish priests, for punishment or for protection. Lauriana María complained of repeated beatings by her husband, Sebastián Eusebio. Not stopping with sticks and stones, he once hurled Lauriana into the cooking fire. Sebastián ignored anyone who questioned his conduct; the unruly man feared neither the local Spanish officer nor the priest. Her life in danger, what could Lauriana do? With her head injured and arms burned, Lauriana found protection in the house of the...

  12. SEVEN FROM FATHERS TO STEPFATHERS Life after Independence
    (pp. 97-110)

    In March 1828 the Indian widow Anastacia Roberta brought a long-standing grievance to the judge in Tenango del Valle. Seven months earlier cowhands from Atengo, the neighboring hacienda, stole a dozen of her mares. The theft especially galled Anastacia because she had long rented land from Atengo to pasture the horses. Anastacia first denounced the theft to her municipality’salcalde. Thealcaldereprimanded the hacienda administrator, hiscompadre, but Anastacia did not get her animals back. She then took her complaint to the state governor in Toluca. The governor’s office sent the widow to the subprefect, and he referred her...

    (pp. 111-114)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 115-134)
    (pp. 135-138)
    (pp. 139-146)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 147-151)