The archaeology of a maroon reduccion: Colonial beginnings to present day ruination /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Amaral, Adela L., author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (374 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Shannon L. Dawdy; Stephan Palmie Committee members: Alan L. Kolata; Laura A. Lewis.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:In 1769, the reduccion Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de los Morenos de Amapa (Amapa), was constructed in colonial Mexico. Reduccion was a widespread Spanish colonial civilizing practice that was both a process to create Christian colonial subjects and a physical town in which to achieve this production. Although reducciones typically targeted indigenous groups, this colonial experiment was focused on runaway slaves of African descent, or maroons, who fled from sugar plantations in central Veracruz. According to colonial officials, the Amapa reduccion was "to reduce the barbarous blacks or maroons to a political and Christian life." Among the buildings neatly illustrated on the 1770 plan map of Amapa were rows of houses organized around the plaza, an administrative building, and a church. The town was further systematized through the labeling of buildings with specific functions, i.e. house. In this demarcated and ordered space, the maroons were to be reduced into traceable colonial subjects. Colonial Mexico received over half of the African slaves destined for the Americas up until 1640. And just shortly after Mexico's conquest in 1521, runaway slavery and revolts were prevalent. By the early 17th century, wide scale slave rebellions and maroonage were particularly extensive in central Veracruz. The 18th century in Veracruz was no less violent, with major slave uprisings in 1725, 1735, 1741, 1749, and 1756, all of which contributed to the maroon numbers. The establishment of Amapa therefore emanated after more than a century and a half of unsuccessful attempts to militarily conquer maroons. This dissertation combines archaeological, documentary, and ethnographic data to develop a comprehensive understanding of the Amapa reduccion. Previous historical scholarship on the maroons has treated the history of Amapa as a singular and uncomplicated event, ignoring a pre and post reduccion analysis. The settling of the reduccion in fact unsettled social relationships and colonial power by providing "uncivil," black maroons with rights to and exercise of a material means, a town, that was reserved for colonial subjects. However, my research first considers how the possibility for the reduccion in 1769 was created. Beginning in the early seventeenth century, I trace the legal, social, and material developments of a slave and maroon population. I also analyze the changing approach local officials took toward maroons. While officials had exclusively attempted to conquer maroons through arms, beginning in 1751 the goal of conquest became knowledge as captured maroons were systematically interrogated. Through archaeological investigations, my work compares the reduccion's material and ideological ideals with its execution in practice. Materials excavated during the 2013 archaeological field season (Permit #401.B(4)19.2012/36/0754) from the site's foundation period yielded approximately 20 centimeters of modest artifact concentration. The paltry use of space as suggested by the lack of materials and cultural levels proposes that the reduccion did not succeed in creating the ideal colonial subject that was intended. Drawing from ethnographic, archival data, and ruined architectural data, I also examine the process of ruination and the ways in which the ruined landscape intersects temporally and spatially with the present. I argue that while above ground ruins denaturalize the landscape, these ruins are themselves naturalized by Amapans. Although the ruins are centrally located in the present day town, they do not possess a central position in people's daily lives. More palpable to Amapans than material ruination is their town's history and current state of social and moral decay. Amapa was established on the grounds of the moral redress of savage maroons and anxieties over moral and social ruination have been constant since the town's founding.