Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America

Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America

Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America

Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America


"This fascinating book presents the work of nine social historians who seek to reconstruct the elusive and highly personal private lives of colonial Latin Americans. The essays analyze a range of issues from sexuality marriage, divorce, and illegitimacy to sexual witch-craft, conceptions of sin, and confession.... Uniformly engaging, provocative, and well-written, these essays represent some of the most interesting contemporary work on colonial Latin American so-ciety."-Hispanic American Historical Review

"A very welcome contribution to the study of the hitherto little explored personal dimensions of the formation and reproduction of colonial society The essays uncover a rich set of illuminating but until now largely neglected archival sources, throwing light not only on the shifting sexual politics of church and state, the evolution of sexual constraints, and the contradictions between institutional norms and individual practice but also on the private, personal aspects of relations between the sexes with special attention to the experience of women."-Journal of the History of Sexuality

"Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America presents the best work on the subject so far."-The Village Voice

Asunción Lavrin is a professor of history at Arizona State University at Tempe. Her 1995 book, Women, Feminism, and Social Change in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1890-1940, won the Arthur P. Whitaker Prize from the Middle Atlantic Council on Latin American Studies.


In June 1984 Dick Boyer, Ann Twinam, and I decided to gather the three papers we had just delivered at the Berkshire Conference on Women's History and attempt to put a book together on the subject of sexuality and marriage in colonial Latin America. I took over the steering role. Searching for contributions took almost two more years; despite its intrinsic interest, the topic had not been studied in depth by many historians. I believe that the efforts spent in locating the contributors to this book have been amply rewarded. We have now a set of carefully researched and thought-provoking studies on the interaction of the genders in the colonial period. the process that bound men and women in personal relationships before the formation of the family, and the social and religious mechanisms that attempted to regulate them, are examined here from a variety of angles, revealing the intensely human nature of the subject. This is a book about men and women, their loves and hatreds, their inhibitions, their prejudices, their fears and their joys in the process of relating to each other. I hope that the reader will find much here that is new but also much that strikes a cord of familiarity with our own contemporary world. I also trust that the publication of this collection will serve as an incentive to other historians to explore the many nuances and challenging complexities of the subject.

All of us are indebted to many people and institutions for their support and encouragement, and they have been remembered in the acknowledgments for each paper. Here I wish to express my special gratitude to William L. Sherman and Silvia Arrom for their critical comments. the staff of the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress and the Handbook of Latin American Studies deserve a very special mention. They have gone beyond being cooperative and pa-

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