Beyond First Encounters: Mechanisms of Social Transformation at the Colonial Port of Veracruz

Author(s): Krista Eschbach

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "After Cortés: Archaeological Legacies of the European Invasion in Mesoamerica" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Port of Veracruz was significant not only as the landing site of Hernán Cortés, but also as a central gateway for European colonists and African slaves entering New Spain. First encounters between immigrants and natives had significant long-term consequences, but initial interactions were only a starting point for centuries of sociocultural change. Historians have identified at least three macroscale shifts in the social structure of colonial Mesoamerica. Colonists initially borrowed Iberian ideals for organizing colonial society. Varied historical settings, local interactions, and reciprocal responses by officials and institutions led to the development of the casta system by the seventeenth century. The casta system, in turn, began to decline a century later. Drawing on the work of sociologists and political scientists, I take a "mechanismic" approach for explaining local changes in social relations and the development of durable social categories as seen at the Port of Veracruz. My focus is on relational mechanisms that modified reoccurring patterns of interaction and concatenated into processes of categorical change. I identify mechanisms that were at work in pluralistic neighborhoods at the port through analyses of census data, use of urban space, and the production and consumption of material culture from archaeological contexts.

Cite this Record

Beyond First Encounters: Mechanisms of Social Transformation at the Colonial Port of Veracruz. Krista Eschbach. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450623)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -98.987; min lat: 17.77 ; max long: -86.858; max lat: 25.839 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25301