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Name: Natasha Bailey

PhD: History

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


Thesis Description:

This study examines the participation of indigenous Nahua communities 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 mid to late 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, the trade was initially almost entirely the province of native communities, before its adoption by wealthy creole and Spanish elites. This project explores how Nahua communities were not only able to assert their rights as citizens of the colonial state, through their participation in the pulque trade, but to retain an element of their pre-conquest cultural heritage in a society hostile to any remnants of pre-Hispanic tradition.

My study builds on William Taylor’s suggestion that the continuance and probably expansion of traditional alcohol production in indigenous communities should be considered in many ways a sign of social continuity and resilience, rather than of social breakdown. By examining communities' active production and trading 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.


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



  • Associate Tutor- HS1001 Barbarism and Civilisation: Medieval and Early Modern Europe (c. 800-1700)


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


  • Christianity in Pictures: Indigenous Visual Language and Hybridity in Early Colonial Mexican Catechisms
    School of History, Politics and International Relations (HyPIR) Postgraduate Conference 2019, 9th May, University of Leicester
  • “That None Shall Cause Her Any Grievance”: Native Women, Litigation and Power in the Colonial Mexican Marketplace
    Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies PGR Community Forum 2019, 21st-22nd June, University of Nottingham

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


Events Organised


  • Organiser, SPLAS Postgraduate Forum, 22nd-23rd June, University of Nottingham
  • Planning Committee, M3C Research Festival, 24th May, Maple House, Birmingham


  • Organiser, HyPIR Postgraduate Conference 2019, 9th May, University of Leicester



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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