Studies in the Administration of the Indians in New Spain: III The Repartimiento system of Native Labor in New Spain and Guatemala

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Author: Simpson, Lesley Byrd (1891-1984) inscribed from the library of Professor Donald Worcester

Year: 1938

Publisher: University of California Press

Place: Berkeley


vii+161 pages appendix. Royal octavo (9 1/4" x 6 1/4") bound in original publisher's wrappers. Inscribed by the author. From the library of Professor Donald Worcester. Ibero-Americana: 13. First edition.

The Repartimiento was a colonial forced labor system imposed upon the indigenous population of Spanish America and the Philippines. In concept it was similar to other tribute-labor systems, such as the mita of the Inca Empire or the corvée of Ancien Régime France: the natives were forced to do low-paid or unpaid labor for a certain number of weeks or months each year on Spanish-owned farms, mines, workshops (obrajes), and public projects. With the New Laws of 1542, the repartimiento was instated to substitute the encomienda system that had come to be seen as abusive and promoting unethical behavior. The repartimiento was not slavery, in that the worker is not owned outright being free in various respects other than in the dispensation of his or her labor and the work was intermittent. It however, created slavery-like conditions in certain areas, most notoriously in silver mines of 16th century Peru. In the first decades of the colonization of the Caribbean the word was used for the institution that became the encomienda, which can cause confusion. It was a way for people to pay tribute by doing laborious jobs for the mother country.

Donald E. Worcester (1915-2003) was an American historian who specialized in Southwestern United States and Latin American history. He was president of the Western History Association from 1974-1975. Worcester graduated from Bard College in 1939. He received an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1941. He then served in the US Naval Reserve in World War II. He received a PhD. from Berkeley in 1947. From 1947 until 1963 he was a professor at the University of Florida. He then was a professor at Texas Christian University and history department chair. From 1960 until 1965 he was managing editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review. Worcester's view that history is made of complexities, not dualities, is seen as foundational for much of the understanding by later scholars of Southwest United States history.


Inscribed by by Simpson to title. Worcester's name on half title page, edge and spine ends chipped.

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