Eric Van Young is a major historian of colonial Mexico, now at the point in his distinguished career when a “greatest hits collection” (as one of the blurb writers calls this book) becomes de rigueur. Consisting of seven substantial chapters, including a particularly good one on the neglected question of regionalism, the book covers some 30 years of creative scholarship and charts both Van Young's intellectual trajectory and that of Mexican / Latin American historiography, the two sharing, he plausibly argues, a common trend away from big economic and social (“structuralist”) analysis and toward more individual and elusive cultural themes — a shift, as he puts it, from “materiality” to “interiority” (pp. 2, 10). Thus, economic history and major fields like hacienda studies have atrophied (at least in “Anglophone” scholarship, which pretty much means in the United States; in Mexico, Van Young...

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