Barrios de mulatos in the Izalcos Region of Colonial Guatemala

Author(s): Kathryn Sampeck

Year: 2018


While much scholarship has focused on indigenous-Spanish relationships in the construction of colonial Mesoamerica, a substantial and growing part of the population of colonial settlements were people of African descent. This trend was equally true in the Izalcos region of colonial Guatemala, what is today western El Salvador. This region was a crucial center in the developing trans-colonial economy because of its early leading role in the production of cacao, the tree whose seed is the main ingredient for chocolate. Because of the extraordinary place of the Izalcos in this colonial moment, the region experienced intense social, political, and economic pressures. One expression of colonial anxiety was the development of a social classification system known as castizaje. While some casta terms are part of the sixteenth-century vocabulary, the system of castas was not systematic until the eighteenth century. Censuses and other documentary evidence indicate that discrete barrios in Izalcos region towns were mostly Afro-Central Americans. This paper presents evidence of their material worlds, including spatial arrangements and portable material culture from the sixteenth to eighteenth century, the time of the development of racial ideologies in Spanish America.

Cite this Record

Barrios de mulatos in the Izalcos Region of Colonial Guatemala. Kathryn Sampeck. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445272)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.471; min lat: 13.005 ; max long: -82.969; max lat: 21.78 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20653