Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hernandez-Saenz Reviews "Empire of Laws and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico"

H-Law has published "Law and Indigenous Peoples in Seventeenth-Century Mexico," a review by Luz Maria Hernandez-Saenz, Department of History, University of Western Ontario, of Brian Philip Owensby's Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford University Press, 2008). The review commences:
With the acquisition of its American colonies, Spain became the first European power to wrestle with issues such as the justification for conquest, the place of the indigenous population in colonial society, and their role as subjects to the crown. Conquest brought new subjects as well as new challenges to the crown, which accepted the defeated as "inferior" subjects of the empire. Legislation sought to separate the conquered from the conquerors by establishing two "republics" that, although complementary, were to be kept separate. Legally, such division continued to exist into the seventeenth century but in reality both encroached on each other and were separated by a large gray area rather than a clear line. Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico explores the role played by the legal processes "in mediating the relationship among people very differently situated in Spain's empire in the New World."
The review continues on H-Law.