Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez’s work demonstrates convincingly that there is still much to be learned and written about the Spanish conquest of America. In his desire to deepen our understanding of a particular colonial society, the author presents a detailed study of the institution of the encomienda in the Muisca valley of Ubaque in the Andes southeast of Santa Fé de Bogotá. This focused analysis allows him to comment on the sixteenth-century Spanish imperial project and to compare that Hispanic context to other Atlantic systems, as he explores the interactions between particular native leaders (caciques), the encomenderos who were granted access to tribute in the valley, and the colonial church and state. To achieve this, he focuses upon the colonial reorganization of geographic spaces and landscapes, the evolution of a colonial economy in the valley and its eventual integration into the...

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