In Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico, Tatiana Seijas untangles complex ethnic terminologies, juridical debates, and economic demands to show how Asian passengers of the Manila galleon, slave or free, came to be designated under Spanish imperial law as indios, as subjects of the Spanish crown who could not be deprived of their liberty.

Like others, Seijas was drawn to further historical research by the intriguing China Poblana, a folkloric figure whose origin has often been misattributed to a seventeenth-century chino slave and popular saint, Catarina de San Juan. Through a close reading of Catarina's two hagiographers (chapter 1), Seijas connects the pious beata's story to the monograph's wider themes: slaving networks in Asia, the Manila slave market, transpacific trade, legal pursuit of manumission, and the close identification between chinos and the native indios of New Spain.

The establishment of...

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