Presentation Title

Hechicería and Hierarchy: Colonial Mexican Women and Subversion of Power Through “Witchcraft”

Faculty Mentor

Kristi Upson-Saia, D. Keith Naylor

Start Date

17-11-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 5:00 PM

Location

CREVELING 85

Session

POSTER 3

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

My research studies women in colonial New Spain engaged in so-called “witchcraft”--a set of religious, sexual, and social behaviors deemed deviant--as a means through which to acquire status and power. I examine specifically how these behaviors empowered women within a stratified and hierarchical power system and against colonial powers, as well as examining how women weighed this empowerment against the persecution, violence, and stigma to which such behaviors exposed them. In exploring this double-bind of rebellion and risk, I seek deeper insight into these women’s creativity, negotiation, and decision-making as they pursued status and power through unconventional and forbidden means. My focus will be squarely on the experiences of women--how they employed unconventional strategies to acquire agency and power, even at the risk of their own peril--more so than on the depictions and representations of them by their persecutors.

The scope of my research focuses on colonial New Spain from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries given the robust primary sources available in this region during this time period, including official court cases and testimonies, personal accounts, treatises, and historical reports. A few scholars in the field whose framework and approach I particularly admire, and whose secondary sources I aim to directly engage with in my work, include Moriah Gonzalez-Meeks, Joan Bristol Cameron, and Laura Lewis. Additionally, I am particularly interested in the intersection of “magic” and sexuality, and thus hope to build off the work of Ruth Behar, Martha Few, and Jacqueline Holler in order to dissect the type and quality of sexual desires and actions that were considered violations of social boundaries.

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Nov 17th, 3:00 PM Nov 17th, 5:00 PM

Hechicería and Hierarchy: Colonial Mexican Women and Subversion of Power Through “Witchcraft”

CREVELING 85

My research studies women in colonial New Spain engaged in so-called “witchcraft”--a set of religious, sexual, and social behaviors deemed deviant--as a means through which to acquire status and power. I examine specifically how these behaviors empowered women within a stratified and hierarchical power system and against colonial powers, as well as examining how women weighed this empowerment against the persecution, violence, and stigma to which such behaviors exposed them. In exploring this double-bind of rebellion and risk, I seek deeper insight into these women’s creativity, negotiation, and decision-making as they pursued status and power through unconventional and forbidden means. My focus will be squarely on the experiences of women--how they employed unconventional strategies to acquire agency and power, even at the risk of their own peril--more so than on the depictions and representations of them by their persecutors.

The scope of my research focuses on colonial New Spain from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries given the robust primary sources available in this region during this time period, including official court cases and testimonies, personal accounts, treatises, and historical reports. A few scholars in the field whose framework and approach I particularly admire, and whose secondary sources I aim to directly engage with in my work, include Moriah Gonzalez-Meeks, Joan Bristol Cameron, and Laura Lewis. Additionally, I am particularly interested in the intersection of “magic” and sexuality, and thus hope to build off the work of Ruth Behar, Martha Few, and Jacqueline Holler in order to dissect the type and quality of sexual desires and actions that were considered violations of social boundaries.