What place did literacy and education have in the construction and maintenance of a colonial society in New Mexico? The answer to that question is carefully developed for the first time in this book. Gallegos assembles and interprets church and government documents to examine the relationship between literacy, education, and the social order in colonial New Mexico.
This study explores the role of literacy in the process of colonization, focusing on how individuals learned to read and write, to what ends these skills were employed, and the ways that literacy functioned to maintain--and challenge--the social order. Following the military reconquest, misions were re-established among the pueblos. Utilizing a pedagogy common in colonial Mexico, the missionaries raised and educated selected young boys from the Indian Pueblos. After becoming literate, these young men, called doctrinarios, became invaluable to the friars in the indoctrination of the other natives. Moreover, the author examines the many ways in which literacy in a restricted form was used by the civil and religious authorities to establish and maintain social control and by the populace in exercising their political rights and participating in the economic sphere.