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Name: Natasha Bailey

PhD: History

Thesis Title: Nahua Women in the Pulque Trade of Early Colonial Mexico, 1550-1668


Thesis Description:

This study examines Nahua women’s participation in the production and sale of the alcoholic beverage pulque in early colonial central Mexico from the boom in pulque production of the 1550s to the introduction of increased regulation by the colonial state in the early seventeenth century. As the use of pulque changed from sacred ritual drink among the pre-Hispanic Nahua to a highly popular commodity under the Spanish colonial system, indigenous women had a strong presence in its production and distribution. This project explores how 16th-century Nahua women were not only able to retain an element of their pre-conquest cultural heritage through the pulque trade, but to assert their power in a society that increasingly sought to oppress female autonomy.

My study builds on William Taylor’s suggestion that the continuance of pulque consumption in indigenous communities should be considered in many ways a sign of social continuity and resilience, rather than of social breakdown. By examining women’s active role in facilitating the trading and consumption of pulque during a period of tumultuous cultural change, in which indigenous communities were under great pressure to assimilate, the project will engage with a central debate in the historiography of colonial Mexico: how profoundly Nahua society was transformed by the conquest. My aim is to explore how women were able to use their involvement in the pulque trade to negotiate more favourable conditions for themselves and their communities in colonial society, while simultaneously ensuring the survival of an important indigenous cultural practice in the face of the widespread adoption of Hispanic cultural values.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Deborah Toner (University of Leicester), Dr Amy Fuller (Nottingham Trent University)


Conference Papers:

  • Tochtli's Night Out: Reconstructing Drinking Practices in Prehispanic Mexico through Storytelling
    Digital Story presented at Midlands3Cities Research Festival 2018, 24th May,University of Birmingham
  • “In Octli Veritas?”: Looking at Nahua Responses to Early Spanish Colonialism through Pulque Production and Consumption
    PILAS (Postgraduates in Latin American Studies) Annual Conference 2018, 4th-5th June, University of Liverpool
  • Las mujeres nahuas en el comercio del pulque durante el periodo colonial temprano en México, 1550-1668
    Jornadas 2018: Diversas Visiones en Torno a la Historia, 21st November, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City

Conferences Attended (non-participant)


  • Drinking Studies Network Conference, 3rd-4th February 2018, University of Leicester
  • PILAS (Postgraduates in Latin American Studies) Annual Conference 2018, 4th-5th June, University of Liverpool
  • American Society for Ethnohistory Annual Conference, 11th-13th October 2018, Oaxaca City, Mexico


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


  • Joint organiser of SPLAS Postgraduate Forum at the University of Nottingham, 22nd-23rd June 2018
  • Planning Committee Member, M3C Research Festival, 24th May 2018
  • IDIEZ/University of Utah Summer Nahuatl Program (intensive course in Nahuatl language), Salt Lake City, 21st June-1st August 2018



Funding Bids


  • SDF bid for cost of Spanish tuition- awarded £125


  • CDF bid for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies Postgraduate Community Forum, in conjunction with University of Nottingham PhD students- awarded £1777
  • Society for Latin American Studies Postgraduate Travel Grant- awarded maximum grant of £600 towards travel costs for the IDIEZ/University of Utah Summer Nahuatl Program
  • SDF bid for travel, tuition and accommodation costs of attending the IDIEZ/University of Utah Summer Nahuatl Program- awarded £4100
  • Beca Teixidor from the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)- awarded a monthly stipend of 15000 MXN (approx. 500 GBP) plus 15000 MXN towards flight costs.


Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS)
  • Postgraduates in Latin American Studies (PiLAS)
  • Drinking Studies Network
  • American Society for Ethnohistory


Research Interests:

  • Visual cultures of Latin America
  • Pre-Columbian art
  • Indigenous histories of colonial Mexico
  • History of the Spanish Empire in the Americas
  • Gender history
  • Nahuatl language
  • Social and cultural history of alcohol



University email address:


Twitter: @natashakbailey


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