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Fictive Conquest: The Spanish State, State Agents, and Indigenous Forms of Resistance in Eighteenth-Century New Mexico


This thesis maintains that the ongoing conflicts between Spanish and indigenous peoples in the frontier region of the Kingdom of New Mexico in the eighteenth century demonstrated Spaniards' inability to achieve conquest. Spanish colonizers conceptualized a successful conquest in the Americas to include access to land and control over its resources. Nevertheless, analyzing this material mode of conquest on its own reveals an incomplete process. The Spanish state did not fully realize its ambition to occupy New Mexico with Spanish colonizers since the Apache, Comanche, and Pueblo refused to internalize Spanish values in the eighteenth century. Spanish colonizers resorted to discursive forms of conquest as a means to create a legal-religious discourse that justified their presence in the region. The Spanish labeled indigenous peoples such as the Pueblo variously as sodomite, heretic, and adulterer in order to remain in New Mexico. This thesis employs forms of textual analysis, qualitative content analysis, and discourse analysis of the primary sources from New Mexico including, letters, diaries, travelogues, and Inquisition testimonies written by Spanish colonizers in order to illustrate the ongoing contestations between the Spanish and indigenous peoples for control over a network of exchange in the frontier region of the Kingdom of New Mexico.

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