Wednesday, April 5, 2017

van Deusen's Global Indios

We missed this one back in 2015. Nancy E. van Deusen, Queen’s University, published Global Indios: The Indigenous Struggle for Justice in Sixteenth-Century Spain. From the press:

In the sixteenth century hundreds of thousands of indios—indigenous peoples from the territories of the Spanish empire—were enslaved and relocated throughout the Iberian world. Although various laws and decrees outlawed indio enslavement, several loopholes allowed the practice to continue. In Global Indios, Nancy E. van Deusen documents the more than one hundred lawsuits between 1530 and 1585 that indio slaves living in Castile brought to the Spanish courts to secure their freedom. Because plaintiffs had to prove their indio-ness in a Spanish imperial context, these lawsuits reveal the difficulties of determining who was an indio and who was not—especially since it was an all-encompassing construct connoting subservience and political personhood and at times could refer to people from Mexico, Peru, or South or East Asia. Van Deusen demonstrates that the categories of free and slave were often not easily defined, and she forces a rethinking of the meaning of indio in ways that emphasize the need to situate colonial Spanish American indigenous subjects in a global context.

Praise for the book:

"Weaving names and fragments of lives into a richly textured narrative, van Deusen does justice to their stories, placing the reader in the heart of the empire, facing its darkest moment." -Kathryn Lehman

"This book offers many interesting insights into the experiences of indio slaves and servants who ended up in Castile." - Ida Altman

"Van Deusen concentrates her attention on the microcosm of a village society in the area of Seville and on the part played in it by indios imported from America, but she also gives consideration to the indio menials of the New World and to the Asian context from which some slaves were drawn. The evidence throws light mainly on the southern part of Castile, but the book’s perspective is global, sophisticated, admirable, and pathbreaking." - Henry Kamen

"Nancy van Deusen has written a masterpiece of early modern ethnohistory that brings to light a veritable diaspora of indigenous slaves in Spain, while expanding the meaning of indio as a global and changing identifier constructed outside the colonial confines of America." - Alcira Dueñas

Further information is available here.