Colonial Spanish bureaucracy produced masses of “autobiographical” texts ('relaciones de méritos and servicios') which forced/invited individuals to present themselves as perfect subjects of the King in order to be rewarded. Bureaucracy produced the officials of the colonial regime, and, at the same time, it provided individuals with the possibility of exploring the literary potential of writing one’s curriculum vitae. This book helps contextualize a body of often-used yet understudied historic sources; it indicates that the fabric of early modern society was held together by a pervasive economy of 'mercedes' (rewards); and it shows that the tension between state-induced production of autobiographical documents and the individual’s endeavor to outsmart this system is at the origin of modern forms of literature.
Robert Folger, Ph.D (1999) in History, University of Rostock, and Ph.D. in Spanish literature (2001), University of Wisconsin-Madison, is Professor of Spanish at Utrecht University. He has published on a broad range of topics in Spanish and Latin American literatures and cultures, with a particular focus on the medieval and early modern period.
Writing as Poaching carefully scrutinizes the complex nature of a prevalent genre of writing from the colonial era to offer a nuanced critical understanding of its interior and exterior dynamics. Particularly useful to colonial Latin American literary historians, Folger’s book is an important contribution to this growing scholarly field." – Anna M. Nogar,
University of New Mexico, in:
Renaissance Quarterly 65/4 (Winter 2012), pp. 1294-1295 [DOI:
Table of contents
List of Figures ...ix
1. Introduction ...1
2. Strategic Interpellation and Tactical Writing in Colonial Historiography (Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries) ...13
2.1. Introduction ...13
2.2. Relaciones de méritos y servicios ...16
2.2.1. The Bureaucratic Dispositif: The Allocation of Offices and Privileges ...18
2.2.2. The Archive: La Historiografía Indiana and the Monopolization of Historiographical Discourse ...52
3. Tactical Appropriations ...67
3.1. Dorantes de Carranza: Memoria y Papeles ...67
3.2. The Arduous Work of Writing History: Alonso Borregán ...95
3.3. Self and Archive: El Carnero de Juan Rodríguez Freyle ...108
Epilogue: The Hallucinatory World of Bureaucracy ...133
Works Cited ...139
Specialists and students working in early modern Spanish and colonial culture, historiography, and literature. All those interested in the history of colonial Latin America and the relation between state institutions, society and culture in the early modern period.