Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

La Cofradia De la Limpia Concepcion De Los Pardos in San Joseph del Parral, 1600-1800: Reconstructing the Historical Memory of African-Mexican Community in the North of New Spain

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

La Cofradia De la Limpia Concepcion De Los Pardos in San Joseph del Parral, 1600-1800: Reconstructing the Historical Memory of African-Mexican Community in the North of New Spain

Article excerpt

In a memoir written in 1948 and titled El Parral de mis recuerdos (The Parral I Remember), Salvador Prieto Quimper describes his life in Parral; a noble provincial city. (1) Through his memories, the author gives glimpses of a community that was, for him, happy and harmonious; with neighbors swapping talk in the town square and beautiful, modest young ladies, but above all: men, real men, honorable men. Such was the case with Doctor Francisco Perches and Don Trinidad Villaverde, whom the author describes as "men with unmistakably Basque surnames. Each and all were like the knights of Calatrava, spotless and flawless, descendants of the most ancient Comarcan families." (2) In other words, for Prieto-Quimper, those men were, "honorable, a privilege inherited from their ancestors." (3)

As has been noted, in the memoirs of this 20th century author, certain values of colonial society still stand out, among them honor: a privilege which, according to him, one inherits. Although the 20th century is not his research focus, the memory of this author serves to make certain values stand out, but more than anything it serves to signal who has been erased from the memory of a mining town in northern Mexico; men and women of African origin who lived in colonial Parral as enslaved people, or spread out among castes as free men and women who in their turn knew how to defend and thus show honor, actively participating in one of the few organizations that colonial society allowed them: the brotherhoods.

Until now, Nicole von Germeten is the only historian concerned with research Black brotherhoods in New Spain. (4) She compares and contrasts the activities of these brotherhood groups in three locations in New Spain: Valladolid, Mexico City, and Parral. And for her, the brotherhood of this last border city didn't have the success of other brotherhoods in central Mexico for several reasons; and among them, she gives special weight to constant attacks by groups of Indians, isolation, poverty, a floating population, and excessive control by a hacienda owner in Parral and his relatives.

The presentation below expresses the belief that the analysis of La Cofradia de la Limpia Concepcion de los pardos needs to be re-evaluated within an Afro-Mexican context, including the cultural influence of Spain and Africa. This kind of approach can help to demonstrate that although those African-Americans could not have counted on a consolidated and recent historical memory such as that of the indigenous groups and Spaniards in southern New Spain, however, in the north they were sufficiently free to remember and publicly show that they enjoyed a kinship that lent to an identity and local status in society, just as they did in the brotherhood in the Parral festivals. And in the same way, more broadly, it is worth adding to Afro-Mexican history, which has been disregarded in Mexican history, and consequently, does not exist in the memory of Prieto Quimper, the 20th century Parral writer.

This hypothesis is an essential part of the thesis which for the moment will limit itself to examining Germeten's study of the brotherhood of Parral together with a historiography of the African presence in Mexico. Thus, here it is germane to examine some of the primary sources used by her, some new ones taken from the Historical Archive of Parral, and thereby propose new paths for a more complete cultural study, within La Cofradia de la Limpia Concepacion.

Historiography

One could say that the first serious study of Mexico about the Afro-Mexican population came about in 1946, under the pen of Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran. In his introduction, he points out that, surprisingly, this ethnic group assumed a "most important" role during the colonial period, "at the exact moments in which biology and culture came together to form a new nationality." (5) Hence, he wishes to show that the Mexican nation was built by mestizo's hands which, beyond being simply "brown," contain a great variety of skin tones. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.