In a scholarly convergence of historiography and anthropology, Danna Levin Rojo's study has achieved what both disciplines have fallen short of: a more profound understanding of the collaboration of Spaniards and Mesoamerican Indians that enabled the conquest and settlement of northern New Spain. She demonstrates that Nuevo México—the vast northern realm, contiguous but not equivalent with the modern state—had to be jointly invented as a “transcultural object of desire” before it could actually be located and colonized (p. 176).

Sixteenth-century documents make only scant and passing mention of the participation of legions of indigenous warriors and settlers in colonial projects. So historians have largely avoided speculation on what could have possibly motivated these natives. And the exotic and mythical qualities of postconquest codices such as the Lienzo de Tlaxcala have frustrated anthropologists in assessing their historicity. Levin Rojo offers a comprehensive, encyclopedic...

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