Publications - Individual

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Faculty Member Publications

Listed below are some of the publications from Brian P. Owensby , Professor .

Intimate Ironies

Modernity and the Making of Middle-Class Lives in Brazil
( Stanford, January 2001 )

"Intimate Ironies" represents a novel approach to the history of urban middle classes in the twentieth century. Most studies of the middle class have concentrated on culture or political behavior; rarely have the two been brought together. By linking everyday life and politics, the book reinvigorates the study of political history and class in modern Latin American societies, in the process complementing recent studies of organized labor and the industrial elites in LatinAmerica. And by telling an unorthodox story of the middle class, the author challenges the very possibility of a linear, progressive narrative of social development.

Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico

( Stanford, May 2008 )

Empire's Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico shows how Indian litigants and petitioners made sense of Spanish legal principles and processes when the dust of conquest had begun to settle after 1600. By juxtaposing hundreds of case records with written laws and treatises, Owensby reveals how Indians saw the law as a practical and moral resource that allowed them to gain a measure of control over their lives and to forge a relationship to a distant king. Several chapters elucidate central concepts of Indian claimants in their encounter with the law over the seventeenth century—royal protection, possession of property, liberty, notions of guilt, village autonomy and self-rule, and subjecthood. Owensby concludes that Indian engagement with Spanish law was the first early modern experiment in cosmopolitan legality, one that faced the problem of difference head on and sought to bridge the local and the international. In so doing, it enabled indigenous claimants to forge a colonial politics of justice that opened up space for a conversation between colonial rulers and ruled.

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