Friendship is not a common topic of historical research, especially for Spanish American history, despite the fact that Spaniards called their Indian allies “friends” and despite increasing attention over the last three decades to Indigenous-European alliances in the conquest of the Americas. The Intimate Frontier offers an innovative approach to this phenomenon. Rather than focus on diplomacy (masterfully explored by James Brooks, Juliana Barr, and Pekka Hämäläinen), Ignacio Martínez poses that the political arena's foundation is friendship, which includes structures of social exclusion and subordination as well as the webs linking individuals and communities across ethnic boundaries at the Spanish empire's violent edges.

Martínez's central argument is that the ideals, logic, rhetoric, and emotions of friendship helped structure in New Spain's northern borderlands an early form of civil society that eventually comprised Indigenous and mixed-race people alongside European and New World–born Spaniards...

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