Organized under Iberian municipal conceptions and practices, the Jesuit missions were the basic institution with which the Spanish expanded their dominion toward the east of South America. Established in the oriental borders of vice-reigns of Santa Fe and Peru, the missions of Maynas (starting from 1638) and Mojos (1682) consolidated, in regular urban spaces, the production of several items as cocoa, tallow, wax, cotton, sugar and "drogas do sertão". The chiefs were integrated into indigenous councils ("cabildos indigenas"), institution through which they participated in the management of temporal goods, application of justice and enforcement of labor and customs of the common Indians. This research focuses on the last decades of the colonial period and analyzes the use that the Indians of Maynas and Mojos did of the "cabildo" and other municipal institutions to express their reactions to the enlightened reforms. The reason for proposing a comparison between the missions of Mojos and Maynas lies in the fact that, although there were notables similarities between them (linguistic and cultural heterogeneity, ecological and geographical difficulties and pressures of the Portuguese colonization), while the missions of Mojos prospered during the eighteenth century, the decadence of the missions of Maynas began at that time of the Jesuits, and the effects were partially avoided by the reformist governors. This research attempts to explain these differences, and proposes an analysis of the participation of the Indians in the Iberian municipal institutions, as a way to understand the construction of their identities. The hypothesis sustains that experience in the municipal institutions not led to the emergency of a homogeneous identity, but multiple identities that were activated by the Indians in each level of colonial administration. To use institutions in own benefit, the Indians elaborated, without breaking up with old traditions, identities that were congruent with administrative roles.
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