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Dr Mario Graña Taborelli

Dr Mario Graña Taborelli is an IAS Visiting Research Fellow in 2024-25.

Mario Graña Taborelli is a historian who works on political and legal cultures and frontiers in the Early Modern Iberian Worlds (16th and 17th centuries). His research is focused on the district of Charcas (present-day Bolivia and Argentina).

Building political density, “equipping" the land: Entangled jurisdictions, political cultures, and law in the construction of the southeast frontier of Charcas in the second half of the sixteenth century

My research project analyses the foundation and settlement of three Spanish villages in the Charcas frontier - Santiago de la Frontera de Tomina, San Miguel de la Laguna and San Juan de la Frontera de Paspaya - in the second half of the sixteenth century, understanding it as a process that involved various groups and multiple agencies, including those of the Spanish, Andean peoples and the Guarani-speaking Chiriguanaes, as well as other natives. This process was done through the practice of government based on jurisdiction, understood as the authority to establish law and deliver justice. The indigenous populations accommodated and adapted to this situation, assimilating such villages and their authorities in their own fashion, resulting in volatile partnerships which went through periods of peace and violence. This fragmentation of the political landscape led to a weak Spanish presence and compromises on the ground. It also led to a stronger monarchy as fragmentation did not mean disintegration. Although multiple and overlapped jurisdictions encouraged political participation, largely through petitioning and litigation, and encompassed urban expansion, they also proved ineffective in stabilising a frontier which remained politically fractured and stayed as a conflict zone. This research is relevant to our understanding of present-day geographical, political and cultural frontiers in Latin America as it can shed light on modern-day localism and regionalism. It is also an invitation to re-think ongoing debates about the presence of the state, governance and legal compliance in geographies that are still remote across Latin America.