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Land Grant Painted Maps: Native Artists’ Agency and Defense of Communal Heritage in Sixteenth-Century New Spain

Ana Pulido Rull, Harvard University, Junior Fellow 2009/10

During my year as a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks I worked full time on my doctoral dissertation, a project on colonial maps made by the indigenous population of New Spain. I have finished the first two chapters, and I have created a detailed, thirty-page, annotated outline that is the basis of the entire project; this will allow me to continue working on the remaining four chapters during the next academic year.

When I arrived to Dumbarton Oaks last September, I had recently finished research at the archives in Mexico City and was just entering the writing stage of my project. I spent the first months here analyzing the material I had gathered and organizing it into a structured project. I selected the ten maps that would constitute my main corpus and did thorough research on the historical context of the towns where each map was produced. The splendid library resources of Dumbarton Oaks allowed me to find books, articles, and journals on the history of: Coatlinchan, Tetzcoco; Huapalteopan, Coatepec; Pahuatlan, Puebla; Coatepec, Estado de Mexico; Ystlahuacan, Tetzcoco; Maravatio, Michoacan; Yzquyluca, Tenayuca; Cosamaloapa, Veracruz; Quamantla, Tlaxcala; and Ocuytuco, Morelos. This research is now the foundation for each one of the chapters; the chapter on Pahuatlan and Coatlinchan was completed during my stay.

The fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks placed me in a unique working environment, not only because of the library resources and space for thinking it provided, but also because of the opportunity to share my thoughts daily with bright scholars from my field and other disciplines. The introductory chapter of my dissertation owes a significant part of its current shape to the conversations I have had with the fellows. When I first started to write this chapter, I was unsure how to present the main characteristics of this corpus of maps from colonial Mexico, but the conversations I had with the fellows who work on Mesoamerica, as well as other viceroyalties in the Andes, made me realize which features make these paintings unique within the field of colonial studies.

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