The author’s wealth of data demonstrates the chaotic state of rural settlement and population distribution, change in composition, and structure in late eighteenthcentury New Granada. The repeated earlier colonial attempts to divide Indians in segregated settlements (here called resguardos) had clearly failed, and the crown decided to send a series of inspectors into the field both to report on the situation and to propose and implement solutions. The central fact was the obvious penetration and occupation of the resguardos by non-Indians, including those on haciendas and a host of settlers termed vecinos or libres in the documentation of the period. Some saw in this as an alienation and abridgment of Indian land and rights, while others recognized it as a means of development and profit, vital to opening and privatizing land in order to accommodate the ever-increasing mestizo population.

In almost all...

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