Indigenous Masculinities and the Tarascan Borderlands in Sixteenth-century Michoacán

Daniel Santana, University of Texas at El Paso


This dissertation studies the hypermasculine narratives related to the expansion of the Tarascan state and its borderlands in early colonial Michoacán. Colonial texts such as the Relación de Michoacán and the relaciones geográficas depict the ascendance of the powerful Uacúsecha dynasty whose solar deity and male rulers oversaw the conquest of the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin and succeeded in holding back the Mexica (Aztecs) from penetrating their territories. The dissertation pays particular attention to how contemporary political events, namely the Spanish conquest of Michoacán, endemic warfare in center-west Mexico, and political rivalries amongst Indigenous elites, influenced these accounts. Consequently, these narratives elaborated in colonial texts such as the Relación de Michoacán and relaciones geográficas seemed to portray a “patriarchal,” male-centered history of the Tarascan peoples that often overlooked the roles of Indigenous women. I problematize these androcentric narratives by analyzing them as a hypermasculine performance of Tarascan elites. I argue that during the sixteenth century, the Tarascan borderlands were sites where Indigenous hypermasculinities were constructed, reimagined, and performed in ways that were often superficial and reflected the contemporary political moments in which they were produced.

Subject Area

History|Latin American history|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Santana, Daniel, "Indigenous Masculinities and the Tarascan Borderlands in Sixteenth-century Michoacán" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27668096.