New Book | Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met

Posted in books by Editor on November 1, 2020

From UNC Press:

Jeffrey Alan Erbig, Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met: Border Making in Eighteenth-Century South America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2020), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-1469655055 (ebook), $20 / ISBN: 978-1469655048 (paperback), $25 / ISBN: 978-1469655031 (hardcover), $90.

During the late eighteenth century, Portugal and Spain sent joint mapping expeditions to draw a nearly 10,000-mile border between Brazil and Spanish South America. These boundary commissions were the largest ever sent to the Americas and coincided with broader imperial reforms enacted throughout the hemisphere. Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met considers what these efforts meant to Indigenous peoples whose lands the border crossed. Moving beyond common frameworks that assess mapped borders strictly via colonial law or Native sovereignty, it examines the interplay between imperial and Indigenous spatial imaginaries. What results is an intricate spatial history of border making in southeastern South America (present-day Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) with global implications.

Drawing upon manuscripts from over two dozen archives in seven countries, Jeffrey Erbig traces on-the-ground interactions between Ibero-American colonists, Jesuit and Guaraní mission-dwellers, and autonomous Indigenous peoples as they responded to ever-changing notions of territorial possession. It reveals that Native agents shaped when and where the border was drawn, and fused it to their own territorial claims. While mapmakers’ assertions of Indigenous disappearance or subjugation shaped historiographical imaginations thereafter, Erbig reveals that the formation of a border was contingent upon Native engagement and authority.

Published with support provided by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Jeffrey Alan Erbig Jr. is assistant professor of Latin American and Latino studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


List of Figures, Maps, and Tables

1  An Archipelago of Settlements and Tolderías
2  Projecting Possession
3  Mapping the Tolderías’ Mansion
4  Simultaneous Sovereignties
5  Where the Lines End


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