In this foundational work of the burgeoning scholarship on colonial Paraguay, Shawn Austin focuses on the Guaraní outside the Jesuit missions, those living in reducciones in Asunción and in areas between the missions. He is the first historian to systematically use judicial files, which show female litigants as well as Africans and their descendants, to examine how the Guaraní interacted with the Spanish and Africans in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Paraguay. Austin successfully demonstrates that encomienda, understood by the Spaniards and the Guaraní through cuñadazgo or tovajá, became the mode of colonial governance. The term tovajá initially named the exchange of women by the Guaraní for gifts given by the Spaniards, but increasingly this term shaped contexts central for expanding colonialism: for the encomienda system subjecting tributaries and also for trade. The marriage of Spanish men into the kinship of Guaraní caciques became central to securing Indigenous tributaries for the...

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