In this well-researched book, Laurent Corbeil offers the story of how a complex mix of indigenous migrants from central areas of Mexico moved beneath the structures of colonialism and actively contributed to the creation of a flourishing economy and society during the first forty years of the city of San Luis Potosí. In sorting out these multiethnic northward migrations, concepts of mobility and identity thread through his analysis.

How does this study fit into a larger narrative that has highlighted the migrations of many thousands of indigenous peoples to New Spain’s northern frontiers from the sixteenth century onward? To date, the two most documented patterns of this migration involve indios conquistadores, who accompanied early Spanish expeditions and homogenous Tlaxcalan “colonies,” financed by the crown to assist Spaniards in acculturating the north’s mostly nonsedentary natives. A third pattern concerns the migrants who...

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