Three generations after the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican aristocracy maintains a remarkable awareness of itself as a social class. In The Wages of Conquest, anthropologist Hugo G. Nutini sets out to study this social institution, which has shown an unparalleled continuity in structure, form, and content since its beginning with the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
While historians have paid some attention to the Mexican aristocracy and the inordinately powerful role it has played for over 450 years, most social scientists, and especially anthropologists, have ignored its importance, particularly since the demise of the ancient regime. Nutini provides a blanaced and integrated account that places the institution in socio-anthropological perspective and considers its importance in the global context of a national state.
The first part of the book gives an outline of Western social stratification from Greco-Roman times, through the Dark and Middle Ages, to the transition from estate to class after the French and American Revolutions. Focusing on social mobility, expression – the behaviors and practices that identify members of different groups – and various combinations of social, ruling, and political functions, Nutini demonstrates that Western aristocracies constitute a unitary system.
In the second part, Nutini explores the particular case of the Mexican aristocracy, giving a detailed description of its inception, development, flowering, and decline. As he explores the transformation of Mexico throughout Colonial and Republican times he clarifies why despite its loss of political and economic power the Mexican aristocracy is still an institution to be reckoned with.
This volume will interest sociologists, historians, political scientists, and anthropologists who study Latin America, where several local aristocracies have played powerful roles until recently. Its thorough examination of the development of Western aristocracies will make it urgent reading for students of social stratification in general.