After Moctezuma, Indigenous and Self-Government in Mexico City 1524-1730

After Moctezuma – Indigenous Politics and Self-Government in Mexico City, 1524-1730 – Recorded interview with author Dr. William F. Connell (Recording Time- 01:22:45) Recorded September 16, 2011. University of Oklahoma Press


PURCHASE BOOK:After Moctezuma: Indigenous Politics and Self-government in Mexico City, 1524-1730

The first study of indigenous political dynamics in Tenochtitlan after
the Spanish invasion

The Spanish invasion of Mexico in 1519 left the capital city, Tenochtitlan, in ruins. Conquistador
Hernán Cortés, following the city’s surrender in 1521, established a governing body to organize
its reconstruction. Cortés was careful to appoint native people to govern who had held positions
of authority before his arrival, establishing a pattern that endured for centuries. William F. Connell’s
After Moctezuma: Indigenous Politics and Self-Government in Mexico City, 1524–1730
reveals how native self-government in former Tenochtitlan evolved over time as the city and its
population changed.
Drawing on extensive research in Mexico’s Archivo General de la Nación, Connell shows how
the hereditary political system of the Mexica was converted into a government by elected town
councilmen, patterned after the Spanish cabildo, or municipal council. In the process, the Spanish
relied upon existing Mexica administrative entities—the native ethnic state, or altepetl of Mexico
Tenochtitlan, became the parcialidad of San Juan Tenochtitlan, for instance—preserving indigenous
ideas of government within an imposed Spanish structure. Over time, the electoral system
undermined the preconquest elite and introduced new native political players, facilitating social
change. By the early eighteenth century, a process that had begun in the 1500s with the demise of
Moctezuma and the royal line of Tenochtitlan had resulted in a politically independent indigenous cabildo.
After Moctezuma is the first systematic study of the indigenous political structures at the heart of New Spain. With careful attention to relations among colonial officials and indigenous power brokers, Connell shows that the ongoing contest for control of indigenous government in Mexico City made possible a new kind of political system neither wholly indigenous nor entirely Spanish. Ultimately, he offers
insight into the political voice Tenochtitlan’s indigenous people gained with the ability to choose their own leaders—exercising power that endured through the end of the colonial period and beyond.

William F. Connell, an Associate Professor of History at Christopher Newport University, specializes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mexico and Latin America. His articles have appeared in the Colonial Latin American Historical Review and the Journal of Colonialism
and Colonial History.

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