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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 in Hijos 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 Pueblo contributes important new findings to the realm of gender studies and the evolution of Latin America.
Deborah E. Kanter is Associate Professor of History at Albion College in Michigan.