The Intimate Frontier: Friendship and the Social Development of Northern New Spain, 1680-1767
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe following dissertation considers social relationships along New Spain's northern frontier during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. With a specific emphasis on the Pimería Alta, an arid and inhospitable region located along the northern periphery of modern day Sonora, I address the broad intellectual and social category of friendship as it was understood, performed, and manipulated by residents of this far-flung province. In this multi-ethnic realm, friendship functioned as an effective medium through which missionaries, settlers, soldiers, and Indians could navigate social space. Mobility for both Europeans and natives was of prime importance for a host or reasons. Friendship, or at least its performance, made this freedom of mobility possible. In this difficult terrain, friendship was conceived at both the macro (group) and micro (individual) levels. It also became a conceptual space through which Spaniards attempted to colonize the frontier by establishing self-serving standards and ideals of amity. These idealized conceptions of fellowship, however, met up against the practical realities of survival and negotiation on the frontier. Over time, friendship took on a more practical and somewhat engineered functionality, yet never fully divorcing itself from its idealized counterpart. Pima Indians became extremely efficient at both adopting these European standards of friendship while at the same time manipulating them in an effort to counter the negative effects of colonialism. For them, friendship, while at times authentic, could also be a hidden and thus extremely useful from of resistance; a false friend could be a very dangerous enemy. To such nefarious ends, friendship was often feigned and performed in an effort to gain access to goods, respect, and social and physical mobility. This dissertation looks at the ways in which Spaniards and Indians utilized friendship to their respective ends, while attempting to ascertain the codes of behavior and rituals associated with it.
Degree ProgramGraduate College