The history of enslaved people of African descent in the New World has a tendency to richly concentrate broader salient theoretical issues surrounding identity, comparative race relations, and power and agency. In recent years, contributions from various parts of the Spanish and Portuguese American colonies have become particularly theoretically and empirically thick, with historians distilling from records the meaning and functions of diaspora, governmentality, absolutism, and freedom itself. While many of these works labor within the traditions of social history, almost all rely on legal documents—notarial contracts, marriage records, freedom papers, and suits. Michelle A. McKinley's fine book makes it clear that social history can only benefit from attention to the legal framing of the archive on slavery. Stacking up important insights into little-studied areas of enslaved peoples' legal practices in seventeenth-century Lima, the book reminds historians that, if they wish to...

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