Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse

Douglas Ubelaker and Keitlyn E. Alcantara

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse

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  • Regional and Area Studies
  • History of the Americas


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The post-contact demographic collapse is firmly documented in Latin America but not fully understood. Much academic discussion has appropriately concentrated on the numbers. Assessments focusing on population size at contact and timing and dimensions of the populational nadir have struggled with obtaining accurate and realistic population counts, with the gradual realization that the nadir varied throughout Latin America. An understanding of this variation calls for comprehensive and integrated information on the nature of epidemic disease, genetics, history, human skeletal biology, archeological evidence, and cultural factors. Such an understanding must avoid superficial, naïve generalizations but rather seek synthesis of the diverse relevant data with an appreciation for regional variation and nuance. This bibliography was compiled with these general considerations in mind. The resources begin with Edited Volumes, because many syntheses originate from such broad, interdisciplinary efforts. Primary sources then present a sampling of the type of evidence used for historical evaluation (Source Material for Population Estimates). Precontact Culture and Society provides some sense of the cultural and demographic landscape on the eve of European contact. Precontact Morbidity and Mortality adds important detail from studies of human skeletal biology, and ethnohistoric and archival records. Early Historical Demography examines variations of the population-size impact of initial European contact. Because this scholarly area has proven controversial, Debates in Historical Demography presents different points of view on the methodology employed. Regional Population Estimates reveals how assessments have been made within different areas of Latin America employing a range of academic approaches. History of Contact by Region evaluates the effect of timing and circumstances on contact throughout Latin America. Vectors of Disease provides a scholarly examination of the nature of the influential diseases themselves. Regional Patterns of Post-Contact Disease documents the varied ways that disease affected aboriginal populations throughout Latin America. Cultural Implications of Conquest and Region-Specific Cultural Factors focus on important cultural factors that influenced demographic collapse and contributed to regional variation. Skeletal Studies examines the evidence for morbidity and mortality presented by the skeletal remains of the affected populations. Finally, Post-Contact Genetic Admixture documents contributions from population genetics. This selection of predominantly English works is not intended to reflect the available literature but rather material that can be used to establish a solid overview of the topic. Many Spanish-language sources provide detailed, region-specific studies and should be consulted for more intensive scholarly research. Similarly, while online resources certainly exist, at this time the following sources were thought to provide the most appropriate material for the topic at hand.

Article.  10598 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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