Using cases documented in the colonial Spanish judicial archives of Central America, this essay considers litigants' depositions as a form of collaborative life-narrative, recorded on paper by government notaries in a court system that functioned according to dominant social ideologies. An analysis of the transcribed narratives of certain rape survivors suggests that other rapes were never recorded. Pointing to the ways that legal culture determined which charges would be brought and which cases would be heard in the courts, Komisaruk illustrates both contested and cooperative collaborations between colonial institutions and colonized subjects. These collaborations produced a historical record of Spanish American life, but also created silences where histories went unrecorded, notably in cases of sexual violence.


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pp. 369-396
Launched on MUSE
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