Indigenous Eroticism and Colonial Morality in Mexico: the Confession Manuals of New Spain

Indigenous Eroticism and Colonial Morality in Mexico: the Confession Manuals of New Spain INDIGENOUS EROTICISM AND COLONIAL MORALITY IN MEXICO: THE CONFESSION MANUALS OF NEW SPAIN SYLVIA MARCOS Summary This article explores the impact of the Conquest on eroticism and the place of the feminine in 16th century indigenous society in Mexico. It shows how this most intimate area of human experience became the battleground of a war that amounted in part to a cultural annihilation. The article analyses one aspect of the missionaries' well-intentioned "battle to save people's souls". Like in previous, internal forms of violent subjugation of one culture by another, the Spaniards destroyed local gods and temples. However, unlike previous "conquerors" who superimposed their beliefs upon local customs, the newcomers demanded a complete eradication of those customs, as if they only could save the Indians by destroying their identity, their culture's relation to reality and their very concept of time, space and of the person. By condemning indigenous erotic practices and imposing unprecedented restraints on them, the missionaries altered the roots of ancient Mexican percep- tions of the body and the cosmos. Particuliar attention is paid to the confession manuals, written as an answer to the Spaniards' discovery "that lust was the Indian's most frequent sin". These manuals http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Numen Brill

Indigenous Eroticism and Colonial Morality in Mexico: the Confession Manuals of New Spain

Numen, Volume 39 (2): 157 – Jan 1, 1992

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1992 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0029-5973
eISSN
1568-5276
D.O.I.
10.1163/156852792X00014
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

INDIGENOUS EROTICISM AND COLONIAL MORALITY IN MEXICO: THE CONFESSION MANUALS OF NEW SPAIN SYLVIA MARCOS Summary This article explores the impact of the Conquest on eroticism and the place of the feminine in 16th century indigenous society in Mexico. It shows how this most intimate area of human experience became the battleground of a war that amounted in part to a cultural annihilation. The article analyses one aspect of the missionaries' well-intentioned "battle to save people's souls". Like in previous, internal forms of violent subjugation of one culture by another, the Spaniards destroyed local gods and temples. However, unlike previous "conquerors" who superimposed their beliefs upon local customs, the newcomers demanded a complete eradication of those customs, as if they only could save the Indians by destroying their identity, their culture's relation to reality and their very concept of time, space and of the person. By condemning indigenous erotic practices and imposing unprecedented restraints on them, the missionaries altered the roots of ancient Mexican percep- tions of the body and the cosmos. Particuliar attention is paid to the confession manuals, written as an answer to the Spaniards' discovery "that lust was the Indian's most frequent sin". These manuals

Journal

NumenBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1992

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