The Frontier Mission and Social Transformation in Western Honduras deals with the interaction between Mercedarian missionaries and the indigenous Lenca Indian population of western Honduras during the early sixteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries. Using an anthropological perspective, it relies heavily on previously neglected ecclesiastical archival material in conjunction with preliminary archaeological evidence as an integral source of data.
A fine-grained description of the local processes of missionization in a frontier region examines the organization, operation and goals of the Mercedarian mission province located in the colonial Audiencia of Guatemala. Summary data concerning aspects of Lenca society and physical environment relevant to investigation of mission activities are provided.
The importance of this study lies in its ability to explain mission development in frontier settings as well as to trace transformations within a mission order over almost a 250-year period.
Nancy Johnson Black, Ph.D. (1989) in Anthropology, The University of New York at Albany, is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Social Science Department at Metropolitan State University (Minnesota). She has published on Mesoamerican ethnohistory, archaeology and ethnography.
All those of undergraduate level interested in the history of religious orders in the New World, ethnohistory and colonial history of northern Central America, and anthropological method and theory of socio-cultural change.