03 April 2019

BOOK: Christoph ROSENMÜLLER, Corruption and Justice in Colonial Mexico, 1650-1755 [Cambridge Latin American Studies] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). ISBN 9781108477116, £ 75.00

(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press has published a new book on corruption in colonial Mexico during the period 1650-1755.


Corruption is one of the most prominent issues in Latin American news cycles, with charges deciding the recent elections in Mexico, Brazil, and Guatemala. Despite the urgency of the matter, few recent historical studies on the topic exist, especially on Mexico. For this reason, Christoph Rosenmüller explores the enigma of historical corruption. By drawing upon thorough archival research and a multi-lingual collection of printed primary sources and secondary literature, Rosenmüller demonstrates how corruption in the past differed markedly from today. Corruption in Mexico's colonial period connoted the obstruction of justice; judges, for example, tortured prisoners to extract cash or accepted bribes to alter judicial verdicts. In addition, the concept evolved over time to include several forms of self-advantage in the bureaucracy. Rosenmüller embeds this important shift from judicial to administrative corruption within the changing Atlantic World, while also providing insightful perspectives from the lower social echelons of colonial Mexico.


Christoph Rosenmüller, Middle Tennessee State University

Christoph Rosenmüller is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University. His publications include the edited volumes Corruption in the Iberian Empires: Greed, Custom, and Colonial Networks (2017), 'Dávidas, dones y dineros': aportes a una nueva historia de la corrupción en América Latina desde el imperio español a la modernidad (2016), and the book Patrons, Partisans, and Palace Intrigues: The Court Society of Colonial Mexico, 1702–1710 (2008).


List of maps, Tables and figures
A note on terms
List of abbreviations
1. Empire of justice
2. From judicial to administrative corruption
3. 'This custom or better said corruption': legal strategies and the native trade with the Alcaldes Mayores
4. 'Vile and abominable pacts': the sale of judicial appointments and the great decline of viceregal patronage
5. Criminal process and the 'judge who is corrupted by money'
6. Guilt and punishment for fraud, theft, and the 'grave offense of bribery or corruption'
7. The politics of justice: Francisco Garzarón's Visita (1716–1727)
Conclusion: approaching historical corruption

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