Historical Social Research

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Eric A. Johnson, Ricardo D. Salvatore & Pieter Spierenburg, Murder and Mass Murder in Pre-Modern Latin America: From Pre-Colonial Aztec Sacrifices to the End of Colonial Rule, an Introductory Comparison with European Societies [Abstract]

Over the past several decades, the study of violence and homicide in a number of pre-modern and modern European societies has become an area of considerable scholarly focus. Through the painstaking efforts of many scholars, we now can state with considerable confidence that the long-term trajectory of homicide rates in most European societies has undergone a dramatic decline over the centuries. Indeed homicide rates on average in European societies appear to have declined by a factor of fifteen to twenty times from the late 15th century to the present, with the biggest drop taking place in the years between roughly 1450 and 1750. In this special Focus of Historical Social Research six scholars from five different countries and three different continents collaborate to discern if similar trends took place during these same years in violent behavior in Latin American societies. Although only some parallels are immediately apparent, this collaborative and comparative effort marks perhaps a beginning scientific step toward an understanding of patterns of Latin American and global violence over the long haul of history.