Africans in Colonial Mexico

Africans in Colonial Mexico

Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640
Herman L. Bennett
Distribution: World
Publication date: 02/23/2005
Format: Paperback 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21775-2
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This book charts new directions in thinking about the construction of new world identities.... The way in which [Bennett] integrates race, gender, and the tension between canon and secular law into his analysis will inspire re-examination of earlier studies of marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean." —Judith A. Byfield

Colonial Mexico was home to the largest population of free and slave Africans in the New World. Africans in Colonial Mexico explores how they learned to make their way in a culture of Spanish and Roman Catholic absolutism by using the legal institutions of church and state to create a semblance of cultural autonomy. From secular and ecclesiastical court records, Bennett reconstructs the lives of slave and free blacks, their regulation by the government and by the Church, the impact of the Inquisition, their legal status in marriage, and their rights and obligations as Christian subjects. His findings demonstrate the malleable nature of African identities in the Atlantic world, as well as the ability of Africans to deploy their own psychological resources to survive displacement and oppression.

Author Bio

Herman L. Bennett is Associate Professor of History at The Graduate Center, CUNY.


“. . . a remarkable feat in reconstituting the lives of New Spain’s early African population . . . and in offering a new vantage point from which to study this important component of the African Diaspora.”
 — net

“..Bennett’s book represents a significant contribution to the scholarship on the African experience in colonial Mexico and to our understanding of the interface between the public domain of church and state and the private one of personal lives. ”
 — net

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Africans, Absolutism, and Archives
1. Soiled Gods and the Formation of a Slave Society
2. "The Grand Remedy": Africans and Christian Conjugality
3. Policing Christians: Persons of African Descent before the Inquisition and Ecclesiastical Courts
4. Christian Matrimony and the Boundaries of African Self-Fashioning
5. Between Property and Person: Jurisdictional Conflicts over Marriage
6. Creoles and Christian Narratives
Selected Bibliography