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Luis Sánchez-López

Ph.D. candidate in Latin American history, UC San Diego

Residency: September 2016 – May 2017

Research Project: Constructing the Nation: Zapotec Indians and Customary Law in Postcolonial Oaxaca, 1857-1917

Research Interests: state formation, citizenship, popular politics, indigeneity, social movements and autonomy


Luis Sánchez-López is a Zapotec (Benizaa) historian from Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca, Mexico, who has conducted research in various archives and special collections libraries in the U.S. and Mexico. He holds a B.A. in history from UCLA and an M.A. in Latin American history from UC San Diego.

His dissertation traces the evolution of indigenous republicanism among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca from the mid-19th century to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. When Oaxaca’s state government granted municipalities the right to create their own municipal ordinances in 1857, Sánchez-López argues it paved the way for the development of a “customary law regime,” a form of governance that allowed statesmen to incorporate indigenous communities into the nation by recognizing their traditional forms of local rule. Despite this political incorporation, however, Sánchez-López notes state actors continued to view Indians as “uncivilized” and, therefore, unfit for citizenship.