Pueblos Viejos - Pueblos Nuevos: landscape transformation in the north of Michoacán (Mexico) during the Novohispanic period

Authors: Karine Lefebvre*, CIGA - UNAM, Pedro Sergio Urquijo Torres, CIGA - UNAM
Topics: Historical Geography, Landscape
Keywords: settlement patterns, Pueblos de Indios, landscape transformation, hispanic colonization
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the sixteenth century, Spanish conquistadors quickly spread into what is now known as West Mexico. From 1522, the European conquered the Tarascan kingdom and soon began a project of colonization and territorial expansion. From the first decades the Spaniards shaped daily activities to ensure control over the indigenous populations, including evangelization and promoting the economic exploitation of the new territories. One of the first steps was to reorganize Tarascan settlement patterns. On the eve of the conquest, Tarascan settlement patterns were characterized by small villages that were situated on the summits and slopes of mountains. The Spaniards modified the settlement patterns through two main measures: first, the displacement of the old villages (pueblos viejos) into the valleys or nearby plains, in order to prevent the old sites from becoming fortress. Secondly, the Spaniards regrouped the population (congregaciones) into important centers. Beyond the spatial distribution of sites, this transformation entirely affected the space configuration, especially the relationships of people to the landscape and sacred geography. Starting from the example of the displacement of villages in the north of the state of Michoacán, and in particular the case of the pre-Hispanic site of Cuarum and its colonial equivalent San Andrés Cuarum, we will discuss the characteristics of the spatial distribution before and after the Conquest and its implication for the relationship between society and the landscape and the cosmovision of the population.

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