[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-Diplo]: Presta on Mangan, 'Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain'
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Subject: H-Net Review [H-Diplo]: Presta on Mangan, 'Transatlantic
Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain'
To: H-REVIEW at h-net.msu.edu
Jane E. Mangan. Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of
Family in Conquest-Era Peru and Spain. Oxford Oxford University
Press, 2016. 272 pp. $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-19-976858-5.
Reviewed by Ana María Presta (Universidad de Buenos Aires - CONICET)
Published on H-Diplo (October, 2016)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
Transatlantic Obligations is an ambitious and readable account of
Spanish emigration and its consequences in the conquest period. The
book tells its story via the examination of the sexual and emotional
practices of both men and women of different ethnic and cultural
backgrounds living in sixteenth-century Lima and Arequipa, the
capital of the viceroyalty of Peru and a southern intermediate spot.
Family, kin, marriage, concubinage, sentiments, and especially
parenthood are put under the microscope by Jean E. Mangan in an
attempt to establish how paternity and its obligations were
acknowledged, ignored, demonstrated, withdrawn, negotiated, or
Among the many changes brought about by the Spanish colonization of
the New World, family, an enduring cultural creation founded on the
notion of Catholic marriage promulgated at Trent in 1563, became an
institution through which new social actors and their emerging
practices were understood. Mangan focuses on the first century of
Spanish domination, when different populations and cultures collided
and negotiated the conquest of territories and bodies through power,
political, sexual, and sentimental alliances, while forging new
social hierarchies as well as new identities. The author has
collected and used a wide range of sources to penetrate the intimate
relations and feelings of those exercised parental rights.
The book is divided into six chapters. In the first, "Matchmaking,"
Mangan introduces the mixed unions and the colonization of family
trees that resulted when elite Indian women and Spanish conquistadors
engaged in consensual relationships that did not result in marriage.
Indian women of high status who never married their Spanish partners
gave birth to famous mestizos of the first generation. Family, blood,
status, culture, legacy, and acknowledgment characterized the
well-known examples of Gómez Suárez de Figueroa (Garcilaso de la
Vega Inca), doña Francisca Pizarro, and Doña Francisca's cousin of
the same name. Other cases, like the marriage of conquistador
Francisco de Ampuero to doña Inés Huaylas Yupanqui (Quispe Sisa,
before baptism), show how leading conquistadors continued to exercise
peninsular seignorial rights on their men, the conquered land, and
its assets. Doña Inés was a former lover of the marquis Francisco
Pizarro, who gave her to one of his men, Ampuero, at the same time
bequeathing on him a significant patrimony as a reward for his
services during the conquest. Mangan argues that while the Crown
favored and promoted marriages between Spaniards to indigenous
peoples, consensual relations between conquistadors and women
descendant from the Incas hardly crystallized in marriage. It
would have been productive for Mangan to reflect on how peninsular
prejudices on race and religion may have affected personal and
intimate relations in the Spanish colonies. During the century of
discoveries, racial, cultural, and religious intolerance crystallized
in the inevitable quest of _limpieza de sangre_ (clean blood), a
concept that identified those who did not possess any trace of
Moorish or Jewish blood, peoples with whom Spaniards had maintained
centuries of _convivencia_ (living together) without integration.
This cultural background could open new avenues to interpret the
relationship with the new "others" stressed by the right of conquest
that resulted in the access to land, labor, and bodies.
Chapter 2, "Removal," focuses on mestizo children and their fathers'
attitudes and rights toward them. Mestizo children were initially a
novelty; as their numbers increased, they became a problem to Spanish
colonial rule. Conquistadors and _encomenderos _(holders of an
_encomienda_, indigenous grantees), most of whom arrived in Peru with
their sons who had been born in Mexico or Nicaragua, demonstrated
affection and a sense of paternal responsibility to their offspring.
The scions' illegitimacy affected their rights to inherit, enjoy
offices, and succeed their fathers in _encomiendas_. Some mestizos
born around 1530, living apparently at ease at their fathers' homes,
were well aware of their lack of rights and planned a failed revolt
in 1567. If successful, it would have challenged the very
post-Incaic alliances by shaking families, parenthood, adaptation,
and negotiation among their Indian and Spanish relatives. Plotters
were sent to Spain to be judged and to live apart from their
homeland. This fact adds other reasons for mestizos to have traveled
and resettled in their fathers' country. Events like the failed
mestizo revolt introduced conflict and tensions in what seems to have
been a harmonious _convivencia_ between mestizos and their bicultural
colonial families. On the other hand, it is true that some fathers
provided legitimacy for their mestizos by giving them access to their
assets; however, some decisions on the matter remained solely in the
hands of high-ranking officers, like viceroys, who sometimes
succeeded in gaining control over these heirs and their patrimony.
_Vida maridable_ (a marital duty that was much more than living
together) was a sine qua non to Catholic marriage. Yet male
immigrants traveled to Peru without their spouses and children, who
remained for years in the metropole, trying to survive abandonment as
they pressured authorities to bring their husbands back to accomplish
their duties as heads of the family. Chapter 3, "Marriage," relates
to _vida maridable_ and its regulations in a transatlantic context.
Emigrants maintained contact with their peninsular families, sending
financial aid, letters, and requests to join them in the colony.
Others took advantage of emigration to use transatlantic distance to
get out of undesirable marriages and obligations in Spain, while
maintaining new relationships that often resulted in adultery and
bigamy. Mangan analyzes several decrees on _vida maridable_ with
plenty of examples. They show how marital obligations were delayed,
contested, and mediated by colonial officers who could jail husbands
or oblige wives to make the long and perilous journey to Peru to
reunite with their husbands.
Transatlantic voyages and family reunions are the subject of chapter
4, "Journey." For a variety of bureaucratic, financial, and practical
reasons individuals and families traveled to Peru. After one or more
months' voyage, those going to live as a family, single women looking
for marriage opportunities, merchants, and all sorts of individuals
searching for a better fate embarked and arrived in Peru, no doubt
with enormous expectations. The author gives examples of mestizos
traveling frequently to live with their fathers' families in the
mid-sixteenth century. By the end of the sixteenth century, the Crown
limited the necessary licenses requested by mestizos to travel from
Peru and Mexico to the metropole. On the other hand, the sons of
conquistadors, like the Pizarro mestizo children, were encouraged to
resettle in Spain to discourage potential political unrest in the
colonies led by disaffected scions of conquistadors. Family networks
were an important factor in migration and settlement in Peru. Yet
migratory enterprises were also guaranteed by fictitious or symbolic
kinship. Fellow countrymen born in the same region, _señorío
_(manor), or village considered themselves brothers and sisters,
forging bonds of partnership, clientelism, and nepotism by keeping a
common agency sustained by a strong sense of hierarchy and
belonging. Mangan breaks new ground in her discussion of female
migration and the quest of honor. Historians have typically described
the pursuit of honor by men, but here Mangan describes how honor,
which is at once a virtue and a status that denotes class, with all
its attendant pretentions and prejudices, was sought by women. The
loss--or absence--of honor put the social standing of the individual
as well as the family in jeopardy.
The purpose of "adaptation" (chapter 5) is to link the experience of
migration with _mestizaje_ in order to detect the ways families
adapted to this new era. Mangan navigates around the notions of
_mestizaje_, mestizos, and a kind of mestizo colonial family that
allow the perception of bicultural family networks built through
horizontal ties. This chapter also reveals how indigenous couples
legitimized their unions through the use of Catholic baptism and
marriage. Baptism did not necessarily mean conversion nor did
Catholic marriage prevent polygamy. The long road to adaptation had
to be completed through divorce requests; litigations on _vida
maridable_; and judicial presentations on absenteeism, mistreatments,
and adultery. All these crimes reveal the myriad ways in which
indigenous actors used Spanish laws to get rid of undesirable
spouses, separate, request divorce, and change partners, showing
cultural adaptation and traces of previous practices. _Mestizaje_ and
illegitimacy were common among the conquistadors and their crew who
arrived in Peru with children born out of wedlock. Some
conquistadors and _encomenderos_ procreated children with several
Indian women while others had theirs during long lasting
relationships with their indigenous partners. Again, fellow
countrymen (_paisanos_) provided dowries to mestizas whose fathers
died during the Civil Wars (1538-54) or without leaving a testament
to safeguard or help to face their future. Some conclusions
reached in this chapter need to be revisited. Spanish and indigenous
men and women had children before marriage. Virility and warlike
attitudes were highly appreciated among hidalgos whose values were
extended to the whole society. Children born out of wedlock were
commonplace in Spain. Mestizos incorporated in elite families and
mestizo families occupied different steps in the complex social
colonial hierarchy according to class and _calidad _(social standing
Chapter 6, "Legacy," is perhaps the most controversial fragment of
this research. A considerable amount of data, mainly wills, reveals
the many strategies and options parents used to favor their natural
and illegitimate descendants. Regardless the affection and fondness
for an illegitimate child, the quest of inheritance was included in
laws and codes that favored legitimate descendants over natural and
illegitimate offspring. Yet appropriate Spanish laws and codes are
not mentioned in this research. The Fuero Real (1255) only considered
heirs the legitimate descendants, excluding the possibility of
granting the natural sons more of the fifth of the free disposal.
But, if no legitimate children existed, the naturals could become
heirs. The example of _encomendero_ Nicolás de Almazán clarifies
the matter; knowing that "children [illegitimate] were excluded from
inheritance according to divine law and the laws of these Kingdoms"
and that his bequest could be contested, Almazán made arrangements
with his legitimate heirs to protect his illegitimate daughter (pp.
163-164). Close to death, when dictating their testaments,
responsible fathers would decide to _remediar_ their natural
offspring. In this case, _remediar_ means to provide financial aid to
solve the difficulties an illegitimate child could face along life,
whether in marriage or in making a living. The Leyes de Toro
(1505) confirmed the Fuero Real. When a father died without leaving a
will (_ab intestato_), the legitimate heirs (the living wife, their
children, and grandchildren) received all the assets. Natural
children only could claim a sixth share (_la sesma parte_) of their
parent's patrimony if they died _ab intestato_. Laws favored
legitimate heirs (parents, siblings) in Spain when a relative died in
the colonies. Major shares reverted to the legitimate relatives in
Spain while the natural children--included those
acknowledged--received minor shares.
Mangan has made a great effort to reveal the transatlantic bonds
maintained between immigrants and their peninsular families, while
excavating in the foundations of colonial family. However, her
analysis would have been strengthened and some of the conclusions
would have been different if the author had attended to the prolific
literature on colonial family history, concubinage, _mestizaje_,
mestizos as _passeurs_ or cultural mediators, inheritance, and family
networks produced by American, Latin American, and European scholars
who are going to be surprised to learn that "the dynamic family
structure of an emerging colonial society remained unexamined" (p.
. Berta Ares Queija, "Mancebas de españoles, madres de mestizos:
Imágenes de la mujer indígena en el Perú colonial temprano," in
_Las mujeres en la construcción de las sociedades iberoamericanas_,
ed. Pilar Gonzalbo Aizpuru and Berta Ares Queija (Madrid: Consejo
Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-El Colegio de México,
2004), 15-39; Berta Ares Queija, "Relaciones sexuales y afectivas en
tiempos de conquista: La Española (1492-1516)," in _Cristóbal
Colón, 1506-2006: Historia y Leyenda_, ed. Consuelo Varela (Palos de
la Frontera, Huelva: Universidad Internacional de Andalucía,
Ayuntamiento de Palos de la Frontera, CSIC-EEHA, 2006), 237-256;
Berta Ares Queija, "El Inca Garcilaso y sus 'parientes' mestizos," in
_Humanismo, mestizaje y escritura en los Comentarios Reales_, ed.
Carmen de Mora (Madrid: Vervuert Iberoamericana, 2010), 15-29; and
Berta Ares Queija and Serge Gruzinski, eds., _Entre dos mundos:
Fronteras Culturales y Agentes Mediadores_ (Seville: Escuela de
Esudios Hispano-Americanos, 1997).
. A clue on the matter could be found on page 110: "Men and women
had to prove they were _cristianos viejos_ (Old Christians), using
documents of testimonies from their birthplace, since the Crown
prohibited men and women form passing to the Indies if they had any
Jewish or Muslim ancestry."
. Aurelio Miró Quesada, "Ideas y proceso del mestizaje en el
Perú," _Revista Histórica_ 28 (1965): 9-23.
. Ana María Presta, "Orígenes de los linajes de La Plata
(Audiencia de Charcas), 1540-1640: Extremadura y América en clave
mestiza," _Revista de Estudios Extremeños_ 61 (2005): 591-604; and
Ares Queija, "El Inca Garcilaso," 23-26.
. Ana María Presta, _Encomienda, familia y negocios en Charcas
colonial: Los encomenderos de La Plata, 1550-1600_ (Lima: Instituto
de Estudios Peruanos-Banco Central de la Reserva del Perú, 2000),
179-180; Ana María Presta, "Acerca de las primeras 'doñas' mestizas
de Charcas colonial, 1540-1590," in _Las mujeres en la construcción
de las sociedades iberoamericanas_, 41-62; and Ana María Presta,
"Entre la vara y los indios: La sociedad de Charcas frente a parejas
imposibles (1560-1580)," _Allpanchis_ 71 (2008): 113-139.
. Presta, _Encomienda_, 20, 30, 34, esp. chap. 3; and Presta,
"Orígenes de los linajes," 592, 596-599.
. Presta, _Encomienda_,_ _101, 110, 111, 121.
. Ibid., 61, 67; and Presta, "Orígenes de los linajes," 596-598.
. Presta, _Encomienda_, 73-74; and Presta, "Orígenes de los
. Adopting Nancy van Deussen's translation of _remediar_ for
another matter, in this context Mangan translates the action as "to
reform," interpreting a father's moral responsibility owed to an
illegitimate daughter instead of an economic legacy (p. 151).
Citation: Ana María Presta. Review of Mangan, Jane E.,
_Transatlantic Obligations: Creating the Bonds of Family in
Conquest-Era Peru and Spain_. H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews. October, 2016.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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