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Death, Distance, and Bureaucracy: An Archival Story

Death, Distance, and Bureaucracy: An Archival Story

Chapter:
(p.263) 11 Death, Distance, and Bureaucracy: An Archival Story
Source:
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World
Author(s):
Sylvia Sellers-García
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.003.0011

This chapter in two parts considers several legal cases from Spanish America. It argues that geographic distance shaped the pace of proceedings and created bureaucratic distances critical to case outcomes. Geographic distance also shaped document trajectories, influencing how they would be stored and where they would come to rest. Archivists, both in the colonial period and since then, are the vital mediators of these many forms of distance. They were vital to the creation of document content, they determined which documents survived, and they make choices today that influence location and access. The cases being examined are from Guatemala and Mexico; they are drawn from both inquisition files and the secular criminal courts; they take place between 1698 and 1718. All the cases focus on the crimes and perceived transgressions of non-white women: witchcraft, murder, and adultery.

Keywords:   archives, criminal, distance, escribanos, inquisition, legal cases, witchcraft, women

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