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Lives of the Bigamists: Marriage, Family, and Community in Colonial Mexico Hardcover – May, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Boyer lets these Mexican people speak for themselves about how they got into trouble with the Inquisition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Boyer is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University and the author of a book on seventeenth-century Mexico City as well as a number of articles on colonial Mexico.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; 1st edition (May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826315712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826315717
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,618,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By hmf22 on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
The research project was marvelously imagined: Richard Boyer examined the records of the Spanish American Inquisition and used testimony in bigamy trials (which were common in colonial Latin America) as a window onto the family lives and social networks of ordinary colonists of all races. The study is naturally centered on marriage, but it extends to many other aspects of everyday life, including childhood, education, work, sexual initiation, and individuals' decisions to migrate from Spain to the New World. At only 160 pages, it's a quick read. A detailed appendix of the bigamy files Boyer used in his research provides an interesting window onto colonial New Spain; I was struck by what a large proportion of his subjects married people of other races.

Colorful though Boyer's material is, I found his analysis rather predictable. I didn't learn much about social life in colonial Mexico that I couldn't have guessed from my knowledge of early modern societies in Europe and North America, and I was surprised that Boyer never pointed out that many of the social patterns he observed were common elsewhere in the Atlantic world. I also found the book a bit choppy. Boyer alludes to concubinage without ever explaining how concubinage worked or what role it played in Iberian society, and his description of the Council of Trent, which is central to his narrative, is astonishingly cursory. Still, I enjoyed Lives of the Bigamists, and I think it would be suitable to assign in advanced secondary and college courses on colonial Latin America, as long as one is willing to fill in a little of the historical background that Boyer elides.
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