The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan
Stanford University Press
, 2009 - History
- 433 pages
The Black Middle is the first full-length study of black African slaves and other people of African descent in the Spanish colonial province of Yucatan, which is today part of southern Mexico. The study is based on Spanish and Maya-language documents from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, found in a dozen different archives (mostly in Spain and Mexico). Restall's goal is to discover what life was like for a people hitherto ignored by historians. He explores such topics as slavery and freedom, militia service and family life, bigamy and witchcraft, and the ways in which Afro-Yucatecans (as he dubs them) interacted with Mayas and Spaniards. He concludes that in numerous ways, Afro-Yucatecans lived and worked in a middle space between—but closely connected to—Mayas and Spaniards. The book's "black middle" thesis has profound implications for the study of Africans throughout the Americas.