“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.