Indigenous Affairs in Colonial Oaxaca: The Limits of Spanish Authority in the Zapotec Cabildos of the Central Valley, 1700–1800

Friday, January 4, 2013: 10:30 AM
Evergreen Room (Sheraton New Orleans)
Xochitl Marina Flores, University of California, Los Angeles
A philological study of Zapotec language documents has revealed that the Indigenous gifting system known as Guelaguetza was used by Zapotecs of the colonial period in organizing resources such as agricultural products, labor and money, thus ameliorating the socio-economic stress placed on the indigenous cabildos by the Spanish authorities. This paper will contribute to the conversation of Spanish government and local experience by discussing the indigenous adaptation to colonial authority and the ways in which Zapotecs negotiated internal affairs parallel to Spanish demands. By focusing on the Zapotec discourse through the documents produced internally for an indigenous audience it is possible to gauge the limits of Spanish hegemony over indigenous affairs, as well as the ways in which colonial changes influenced local actors. Despite severe population loss, tribute demands and colonial restructuring of community boundaries Zapotecs were successful in continuing strict socio-cultural practices that were instrumental in dealing with the colonial reality.
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