Rereading the Conquest: Power, Politics and the History of Early Colonial Michoacán, Mexico, 1521-1565 JAMES KRIPPNER-MARTÍNEZ: Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

Amos Megged


Fifteen years have passed since the publication of Selected Subaltern Studies, a groundbreaking book that initiated an entire field of thought and analysis: the deconstruction of history and historiography, and especially what "colonialism" has meant. Since Edward Said, Americanists, such as José Rabasa and Jorge Klor de Alva, as well as a growing number of others, have chosen this road, leaning heavily on what has already been learned from the field of literary criticism and, more recently, from the "new" intellectual history, and combining this with the methodology of post-Structuralism. Their general tenet is re-reading the texts, the sources, the discourse, in order to 'decipher' the innermost encoded predispositions that might have prompted the diverse colonial authors and actors to structure their contemporaneous scene in accordance with their own wishful and biased thinking. An entire debate began on the viability of those methods, and much of it was echoed in two editions of the Hispanic American Historical Review. Obviously, as in any other discipline, there are good and bad studies, and this should be the only way to judge their value and choice. Nevertheless, what one often asks oneself is: does the particular method or tool chosen bring about an innovative approach, or is a fruitful outcome reached after reviewing the sources from a different angle?

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