Dr. Christoph Rosenmüller

Professor

Dr. Christoph Rosenmüller
615-898-2638
Room 277, Peck Hall (PH)
MTSU Box 23, Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Degree Information

  • PHD, Tulane University (2003)
  • MA, University of Hamburg (1998)

Areas of Expertise

Latin American and Atlantic History. Colonial Mexico. Teaching Experience in U.S., European, and World History

Biography

I am a historian of Latin America, and I am primarily interested in colonial Mexico within the Atlantic World. I am currently starting a new book project called “Indigenous Lawsuits of Colonial Mexico in a Global Perspective.” Natives frequently sued Spanish officials for demanding unjust labor services or forcing them to buy undesirable goods. Historians have usually read these court records as ethnographic evidence of local practices. This approach remains important, but the law...

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I am a historian of Latin America, and I am primarily interested in colonial Mexico within the Atlantic World. I am currently starting a new book project called “Indigenous Lawsuits of Colonial Mexico in a Global Perspective.” Natives frequently sued Spanish officials for demanding unjust labor services or forcing them to buy undesirable goods. Historians have usually read these court records as ethnographic evidence of local practices. This approach remains important, but the lawsuits also reveal legal strategies designed to convince the judges. To understand the strategies, we have to comprehend early modern judicial culture, which included customs, royal law, and the concepts rooted in the medieval Church and the classical Roman law. The canon and Roman laws and their legal interpretations written in Latin circulated globally among the empires and connected Mexico to Europe, Asia, and Africa. My aim is to scrutinize the Native lawsuits for the interdependence of global legal content and local customs. This approach clears a path to uncover Native ideas about fairness, while curbing false assumptions about local culture.

Previously, I published on historical corruption. Corruption is clearly an important challenge for the entire world. In Latin America, millions have marched in the past years to oust corrupt governments. Yet less is known about early modern practices. Much of what is now illegal was not considered as such, while in some ways early modern and current notions overlap. For example, bribing judges to change a sentencing was overwhelmingly seen as illegal, just as today. Defendants often argued that they had merely accepted gifts from friends and family, but royal inspectors usually rejected this stance. In addition, some views on corruption have disappeared. For instance, privileged social groups in the Iberian Empires argued that common people were "corrupted by ambition and avarice and shamed by their blood" (ambitione & avaritia corruptis & sanguine infamibus). Their lowly upbringing portended corrupt acts in office. These elites groups held that people of mixed indigenous, African, or Jewish descent were likely to be corrupt, and they sought to exclude these upwardly mobile groups from jobs and resources. In the period from roughly 1675 to 1755, the early modern state negotiated with these popular groups to downplay the innate tendencies of the judges and to emphasize good conduct in office. While the idea of corruption had originally been confined to magistrates, the performative concept of compliance expanded and included all of the administration. To understand these changes, I am pulling together various perspectives that are perhaps too often treated as discreet: the views of diverse ethnic communities, the elites, and the concerns of the empire.

My earlier work focused on patronage. This give and take between clients and patrons sustained the social fabric of early modern societies. In particular, I focused on the court of a Mexican viceroy called the Duke of Alburquerque (1702-1710) who lent his name to the city in New Mexico. He steered New Spain, as colonial Mexico was known, through the rocky times of the War of Succession (1702-1713/15). At the same time he took bribes so liberally that he fell from grace. The duke paid just under 700,000 silver pesos to the king to be absolved. This unheard-of indemnity portended larger changes in the imperial framework.

 

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Publications

Books

Justice and Corruption in Colonial Mexico, 1650–1755. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/corruption-and-justice-in-colonial-mexico-16501755/F495BBF52DFE0441B927DB4A0254B1F8

Editor of Corruption in the Iberian Empires. Greed, Custom, and Colonial Networks. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2017.
https://unmpress.unm.edu/books/corrupti...

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Books

Justice and Corruption in Colonial Mexico, 1650–1755. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/corruption-and-justice-in-colonial-mexico-16501755/F495BBF52DFE0441B927DB4A0254B1F8

Editor of Corruption in the Iberian Empires. Greed, Custom, and Colonial Networks. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2017.
https://unmpress.unm.edu/books/corruption-iberian-empires/9780826358257

“Dávidas, Dones, Dinero:” Aportes a la nueva historia de la corrupción en América Latina, desde el imperio español hasta la modernidad. Co-edited with Stephan Ruderer. Frankfurt/Madrid: Vervuert Iberoamericana, 2016.
www.iberoamericana-vervuert.es

Patrons, Partisans, and Palace Intrigues: The Court Society of Colonial Mexico, 1702-1710. Latin American and Caribbean Series, No. 6. Christon Archer, series editor. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2008.
https://press.ucalgary.ca/books/9781552382349

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“Despojando ‘la langosta que arruina:’ Indios, curas, virreyes, y los conventos del clero regular (mitad del siglo 18) [Despoiling the ‘ruinous locust:’ Indians, Priests, Viceroys, and the Monasteries of the Regular Clergy in Mid-Eighteenth Century Mexico.” Forthcoming in the journal Historias (Mexico City).

“Propuesta para Nueva España: El plan de 1752 del conde de Revillagigedo para reorganizar el virreinato.” Estudios de Historia Novohispana 60 (2019): 161183.

“Zweihundert Schläge mit brennenden Ocote-Zweigen:“ Recht und Vergehen der Amtsleute an den kolonialen Gerichtshöfen von Guadalajara und Mexiko-Stadt (Two Hundred Lashes With Burning Ocote-Twigs: Officials Breaching the Law at the Colonial Courts in Guadalajara and Mexico City).” Südostforschungen (SouthEast Research, Regensburg, Germany) 77 (2018): 3050.

“Two Kingdoms in a Multi-Tiered Empire: New Spain and New Galicia in the Mid-Eigtheenth Century.” Max Planck Institute for Legal History Research Paper Series.
https://ssrn.com/abstract=3272113

"'Corrupted by Ambition:' Justice and Patronage in Imperial New Spain and Spain, 1650-1755." Hispanic American Historical Review, 96.1 (2016): 1-37.

“'Torpes y abominables pactos:' La política del beneficio de las alcaldías mayores novohispanos al fin del siglo XVII y al principio del XVIII. ['Abusive and Despicable Pacts.' The Politics of Selling Judicial Appointments in Mexico at the End of the Seventeenth and the Beginning of the Eighteenth Centuries].” In Mérito, venalidad y corrupción en España y América, siglos XVII y XVIII, edited by Francisco Andújar Castillo and Pilar Ponce. 173–192. Valencia: Edición Albatros, 2016.

"Mexico in Spain's Oceanic Empire, 1519-1821." In Latin American History: Oxford Research Encyclopedias.
http://latinamericanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/ acrefore/9780199366439.001.0001/acrefore-9780199366439-e-28.

"'El grave delito de...corrupcion.' La visita de la audiencia de Mexico (1715-1727) y las repercusiones internas de Utrecht ['The Serious Crime of...Corruption.' The visita of the Audiencia of Mexico (1715-27) and the Internal Repercussions of Utrecht]." In Resonancias imperiales: America y la Paz de Utrecht de 1713 [Empire's Resonance: The Americas and the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713], edited by Ivon Escamilla, Matilde Souto, and Guadalupe Pinzon. 79-118. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Mora/ UNAM, 2016.

"'The Indians...long for change:' The Secularization of Regular Parishes in New Spain, 1749-1755." In Early Bourbon Spanish America. Politics and Society in a Forgotten Era. Edited by Ainara Vazquez Varela and Francisco A. Eissa-Barroso. 143-164. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013.

"The Power of Transatlantic Ties: A Game-Theoretical Analysis of Mexico's Social Networks, 1700-1755." Latin American Research Review, 44:2 (2009): 8-36.

"Friends, Followers, Countrymen: Viceregal Patronage in Mid-Eighteenth Century New Spain." Estudios de Historia Novohispana (Mexico City), 34 (2006): 47-72.

"Assayers and Silver Merchants: The visita of 1729/1730 and the Reform of Mexican Coinage." The American Journal of Numismatics. Second Series 16-17 (2005): 179-193.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

"La Sociedad Cortesana y los Precursores de las Reformas Borbónicas, 1700-1755: Estudio Preliminar (A Preliminary Study on the Court Society and the Precursors of the Bourbon Reforms, 1700-1755)." in XIV Congreso Internacional de AHILA, Castellon, Spain, 20-24 Septiembre 2006 (Proceedings of the XIV Congress of the Association of European Historians of Latin America). Panel 1: Los Borbones en las rocas: la construccion y el naufragio de las reformas borbonicas, edited by Manuel Chust and Ivana Frasquet Miguel, 1-8. Madrid: Fundacion Mapfre, 2008.

"The Struggle for Mexico, 1700-1755: A Game-Theoretical Analysis of Transatlantic Social Networks." Working Paper No. 07-04, International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, Harvard University, 2007. 1-25.

Book and Article in Progress

"El séquito de los virreyes novohispanos en el siglo XVIII: un declive con variaciones (An Unsteady Decline: The Viceregal Entourages in the Eighteenth Century), an article under review for a reader to be published by the Pontificial Catholic University of Peru.

Mexico in the Empire at Mid-Eighteenth Century. A book project; the research and most of the writing are complete.

 

 

 

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Awards

Fulbright Specialist for Research and Lecturing in Spanish on Indigenous Justice and Grant-Writing at the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH), San Cristóbal de las Casas, May–June 2019..

Fulbright - Karl Franzens University of Graz, Spring 2018, Visiting Professor in Cultural Studies (Austria) for teaching and research on Habsburg Cultures of Law. Atlantic and Local Justice Between Graz and Mexico City c. 16501700.

Gerd...

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Fulbright Specialist for Research and Lecturing in Spanish on Indigenous Justice and Grant-Writing at the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH), San Cristóbal de las Casas, May–June 2019..

Fulbright - Karl Franzens University of Graz, Spring 2018, Visiting Professor in Cultural Studies (Austria) for teaching and research on Habsburg Cultures of Law. Atlantic and Local Justice Between Graz and Mexico City c. 16501700.

Gerda Henkel Foundation (Düsseldorf) Research Grant, July 2017–August 2018, Visiting scholar at the Colegio de México for research on the project The Abominable Crime:’ Justice and Corruption in Colonial Mexico, 1650–1755.

Research fellow at the Max Planck Institut For Legal History (Max-Planck-Institut für Europäische Rechtsgeschichte) Frankfurt, Germany, July 2016-June 2017 

Fulbright Specialist for research and lecturing on Imperial Justice at the Colegio de Mexico and the UNAM, and giving a teacher workshop at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), December 2015-January 2016.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Stay for University Academics and Scientists, University of Münster, Germany, September-October 2015.

Fulbright Garci­a Robles Research Scholar, August 2014-May 2015 at the Colegio de Mexico for research on book project Justice and Corruption in Imperial New Spain and Spain, ca. 1650-1755.

MTSU Faculty Research and Creative Activity Grants 2005-08, 2011, 2013 for archival research in Mexico, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lisbon, and Seville.

Fellow of the History of the Atlantic World Seminar August 6-16, 2007 at Harvard University Cambridge, MA.

MTSU Faculty Development Grants 2008, 2011.

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In the Media

Interview with Canal 22 – Mexican Television on “Corruption in Colonial Mexico.” 13 January, 2016

The interview is here: https://youtu.be/JY-1Gkr5_vU

Courses

Undergraduate Courses Taught History 1110, World Civilization I History 1120, World Civilization II History 2010, Survey U.S. History I History 4490, Mexico and the Caribbean History 4520, Modern Latin America History 4480, South America History 4510: Colonial Latin America

Graduate Courses Taught HIST 6020 Seminar in Historical Research Methods; HIST 6304, Topics in Global History (Graduate Seminar on Latin America)