Cultural Politics in Colonial Tehuantepec represents a welcome addition to the regional ethnohistories that constitute an important genre in the history of early Mexico. It concerns the Zapotecs of the southern Isthmus, an arid coastal region that is known today for its distinctive ethnic identity and vibrant political culture. An archaeologist by training with decades of fieldwork and archival research in the region, Zeitlin is interested in the historical roots of this unique provincial culture, tracing how native adaptations to Spanish colonial rule helped create a legacy of political resistance and cultural autonomy that continues to characterize the region today.

The book begins circa 1500 with the mature Zapotec conquest state, established at Tehuantepec some time in the previous century when (in response to Mixtec encroachments in the Valley of Oaxaca) the dynastic rulers of Zaachila conquered the region, with its (limited) irrigated agriculture, valuable salt...

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