Name: Natasha Bailey
Thesis Title: Nahua Communities in the Pulque Trade of Early Colonial Mexico, 1550-1668
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 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, 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)
Conferences Attended (non-participant)
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