This article draws comparatively from civil disputes over community authority in eighteenth-century Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as Lima and Trujillo, Peru, to spotlight a turning point within a longer history of the invocation and invention of indigenous legal custom. Early modern Spanish notions of legal custom had two temporal trajectories, one harkening back to a “time immemorial,” the other pointing to repeated community practice. In the late eighteenth century, indigenous litigants and legal officials added another temporal dimension to native custom. This version of custom contained elements we almost never associate with colonial indigenous lawsuits: immediacy, historicity, and precedent. These elements of custom place indigenous lawsuits within a broader unfolding of modern historical thought in the so-called West.
Custom Today: Temporality, Customary Law, and Indigenous Enlightenment
Bianca Premo is Associate Professor of History at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She is the author of Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority, and Legal Minority in Colonial Lima (University of North Carolina Press, 2005) and coeditor of Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America (University of New Mexico Press, 2007). The topics of her published work include the social history of childhood, slavery and gender, and intellectual history. Her current book project, entitled “The Enlightenment on Trial,” focuses on the colonial production of so-called Western, modern legal concepts in the civil courts of eighteenth-century Peru, Mexico, and Spain.
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Bianca Premo; Custom Today: Temporality, Customary Law, and Indigenous Enlightenment. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 August 2014; 94 (3): 355–379. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-2694291
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