In her survey of the indigenous cacicazgo (lordly estate) in New Spain, Margarita Menegus Bornemann (2005) asks why previous studies of this hybrid Indian/Spanish institution have emphasized property and neglected the owners' seigniorial relations with their subject commoner populations. This paper attempts an answer to this question for the Mixteca Baja region in southern Mexico, positing a shift in cacicazgo management away from direct involvement in local government and patronage networks and toward a more impersonal style of (often absentee) landownership. I assess the significance of these trends for the changing status of cacique in the eighteenth century.

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