Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships

Project

The Politics of Ethnicity: Reimagining Indigenous Identities in Sixteenth-Century Michoacán, Mexico

Project

The Politics of Ethnicity: Re-imagining Indigenous Identities in the Sixteenth-Century Relación de Michoacán

Location

For residence at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute

The Politics of Ethnicity: Reimagining Indigenous Identities in Sixteenth-Century Michoacán, Mexico

Around 1540, in recently conquered Michoacán, Mexico, a Franciscan friar, together with indigenous nobles and artists, produced the illustrated manuscript known as the Relación de Michoacán. For the indigenous collaborators it presented a unique opportunity to shape European perceptions of them, while settling conflicting agendas, outshining competing ethnic groups, and carving out for themselves a place in the new colonial society. Through a comparative analysis of the Relación's illustrations with European and indigenous images and court documents, this project shows that indigenous artists manipulated their rulers' ethnicity and even their history to maintain their status in the new colonial order.

The Politics of Ethnicity: Re-imagining Indigenous Identities in the Sixteenth-Century Relación de Michoacán

Around 1540, the Spanish Viceroy to Mexico, Antonio de Mendoza, commissioned an anonymous Franciscan friar to record the history and political practices of recently conquered Michoacán, Mexico. The friar, along with indigenous nobles and artists, produced the illustrated manuscript known as the Relación de Michoacán. For the indigenous collaborators it presented a unique opportunity to shape the Viceroy’s perceptions of them, while settling conflicting agendas and outshining competing ethnic groups. Through a comparative analysis of the Relación’s illustrations with European images and chivalric narratives, indigenous pictures, and court documents, this project shows that these artists manipulated their rulers’ ethnicity and even their history to assure them a place in the new colonial society.