In recent years, two important trends have permeated studies of Europe's overseas empires. Scholars such as Ann Laura Stoler and Kathryn Burns have illustrated the historical production of imperial archives and archival collections, while Lauren Benton, Tamar Herzog, and others have articulated the archipelagic and polycentric geographies of early modern monarchies. Sylvia Sellers-García brings together these historical sensibilities to examine a quotidian yet fascinating element of overseas imperial administration: the creation, movement, and storage of documents.

Drawing upon research in Guatemala, Spain, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, Sellers-García asks how inhabitants of colonial and nineteenth-century Guatemala imagined distance and how these perceptions shaped the content and form of the textual sources they produced. She argues that up through the eighteenth century, distance preoccupied imperial and ecclesiastical authorities, who measured it not by geographical proximity but by time...

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