Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva’s study of slavery and freedom in seventeenth-century Puebla de los Ángeles is an important new contribution to the history of African-descent lives in New Spain. Via a very impressive and in-depth use of parish, municipal, inquisitorial, ecclesiastical, judicial, and, most notably and effectively, notarial sources, Sierra Silva narrates the experiences and long-term influence of both the enslaved and freedmen and -women inhabiting the second largest city in the viceroyalty. The book expertly guides readers through the spaces of Puebla, including the dehumanizing slave market, convents that must have felt claustrophobic to their protected but captive servants, brutal obrajes (rudimentary factories, especially for cloth production), and the vibrant entrepreneurialism of the food and secondhand goods markets.

The book starts and finishes with anecdotes relating how Afro-Poblanos passionately supported their families and took advantage of their learned knowledge of Spanish...

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