Public Ceremonies and Mulatto Identity in Viceregal Lima: A Colonial Reenactment of the Fall of Troy (1631)

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, History, Media Archive on 2011-06-29 02:14Z by Steven

Public Ceremonies and Mulatto Identity in Viceregal Lima: A Colonial Reenactment of the Fall of Troy (1631)

Colonial Latin American Review
Volume 16, Issue 2 (2007)
pages 179-201
DOI: 10.1080/10609160701644490

José R. Jouve-Martín, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies
McGill University, Montreal, Québec, Canada

Colonial Spanish America was a highly ritualized society. From single events to cyclical celebrations, the numerous civic and religious ceremonies that took place throughout the year helped legitimize European authority over religious and administrative matters of fundamental importance for the conservation of the colonial order. While these ceremonies fostered social cohesion by promoting collective participation, the various groups present in colonial society also saw them as an opportunity to affirm their trade, race or social position (Diez Borque 1985; Acosta 1997). However, not all saw their actions equally immortalized in the pages of history. When describing these events, historical sources lend to locus particularly on the ruling classes and to minimize or disregard the participation of other groups. This can be explained in two ways: Firstly, the amount of money that the privileged classes were able to spend on the organization of their festivities greatly surpassed that of other, less fortunate sectors of society, which lacked the resources to match these more extravagant displays. Secondly, the historians and chroniclers in charge of narrating these events often belonged to the European elite, and their texts were usually commissioned or read by those in the upper echelons of society, most of whom showed very little interest in the cultural and social life of the lower castes. Only in cities and towns with a sizable indigenous population such as Cuzco or Quito did chroniclers describe the participation of mestizos and indios in public ceremonies on a regular basis, as illustrated by the studies of Fspinosa (1990) and Dean {1999), among others. Other castas, particularly those of African origin, are almost never mentioned in the so-called relaciones de fiestas, or chronicles of festivities, and, if they are, it is usually only in passing. Nevertheless, it is in part due to such brief references that we know that blacks and mulattos attended public civic and religious ceremonies in Spanish colonial America not only as silent spectators, but also as active participants.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,