"En todo se hallaron los tlaxcaltecas": The Measure of Conquest in Sixteenth-Century New Spain

Jannette Amaral
Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Columbia University
July, 2014


This dissertation exposes the pivotal nature of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century geographic discourses and practices--both European, indigenous and mestizo --in the articulation of strategies of power, resistance, and negotiation in the kingdoms of the New World. Focusing on the Descripci de la ciudad y provincia de Tlaxcala (1580-1585) by Diego Muz Camargo--a manuscript that is part of the relaciones geogricas de Indias corpus and contains a voluminous alphabetic text written in Spanish and a pictographic text of 156 images--this dissertation proposes to expand our understanding of the rhetorical resources and repertoire of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers in New Spain by studying the cultural innovations produced in the exchange, appropriation, and re-articulation of diverse written and pictographic traditions coming from both sides of the Atlantic. Focusing on geographic discourses--which take the form of prose geography, cartography, map making, land and itinerary measurements, symbols, simulacra, and Mesoamerican ideo-pictographic writing of geographic meaning or value--this dissertation discusses how these innovations are an integral part in the articulation of a Tlaxcalteca discourse of conquest and privilege that seeks to conceptualize and regulate notions of territoriality, movement, and network in the recently globalized world at the end of the sixteenth century.