Counting heads: Indigenous leaders in the guarani-jesuit missions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Using eighteenth-century census data to examine indigenous leadership in the Guarani missions, this chapter shows that cacique succession transitioned from a flexible interpretation of hereditary lineage according to Guarani practices to rigid primogenitor (father to eldest son) lineage according to Spanish ideals. Adherence to primogenitor succession did not consider a candidate's leadership qualities, and thus, caciques served primarily as placeholders for organizing the mission population into cacicazgos for easier governance. Concurrently, an assortment of new positions provided leadership roles for non-caciques who possessed leadership qualities, but not the proper bloodline, and such positions also opened new opportunities for more capable caciques. By considering leadership qualities and not just descent, these positions provided flexibility and reflected continuity with pre-contact Guarani ideas about leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Rio de la Plata from Colony to Nations
Subtitle of host publicationCommerce, Society, and Politics
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030603236
ISBN (Print)9783030603229
StatePublished - May 20 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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