"A well conceived and researched study that makes a significant contribution to central discussions in a growing field of Mexican history--the Afromexican experience. Beyond that, it will add to our overall understanding of how complex racially, ethnically, gender, and class based societies socially develop. . . . [and] to our understanding of the Afromexican experience within the context of the broader colonial Mexican society."--Patrick J. Carroll, Texas A&M University
"A unique and exhaustively researched institutional study that opens up the social dimensions of religious life amongst Afromexican populations, [this book] challenges us to rethink the process of racial assimilation in Mexico. It powerfully argues that black diasporic religious practices need not always be thought of as marginal, magical, or deviant, but can be seen as 'mainstream' in ways that helped uplift peoples of color into the social world of the dominant classes."--Ben Vinson III, Pennsylvania State University
Celebrating the African contribution to Mexican culture, this book shows how religious brotherhoods in New Spain both preserved a distinctive African identity and helped facilitate Afro-Mexican integration into colonial society. Called confraternities, these groups provided social connections, charity, and status for Africans and their descendants for over two centuries.
Often organized by African women and dedicated to popular European and African saints, the confraternities enjoyed prestige in the Baroque religious milieu of 17th-century New Spain. One group, founded by Africans called Zapes, preserved their ethnic identity for decades even after they were enslaved and brought to the Americas. Despite ongoing legal divisions and racial hierarchies, by the end of the colonial era many descendants from African slaves had achieved a degree of status that enabled them to move up the social ladder in Hispanic society. Von Germeten reveals details of the organization and practices of more than 60 Afro-Mexican brotherhoods and examines changes in the social, family, and religious lives of their members. She presents the stories of individual Africans and their descendants--including many African women and the famous Baroque artist Juan Correa--almost entirely from evidence they themselves generated. Moving the historical focus away from negative stereotypes that have persisted for almost 500 years, this study is the first in English to deal with Afro-Mexican religious organizations.
Nicole von Germeten is assistant professor of history at Oregon State University.
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"An impressively researched project on a difficult and important topic. It will be of interest to specialists of Afro-Mexican history as well as scholars of the larger African Diaspora in the Iberian colonial world."
--Colonial Latin American Historical Review
…a fascinating analysis…
…adds to the understanding of African-descended people in New Spain.
"This book should not be pigeonholed as relevant only to scholars of Latin America or colonial Latin America. Interesting insights and perspectives should arise for scholars interested in issues of race in general."
--The Latin Americanist
"Contributes significantly to the longstanding discussion of issues of race and class in New Spain."
"This book has much to offer to readers interested in church history and race and class in New Spain."
--American Historical Review
" Nicole von Germeten has shed light on a number of complex fatcors related to the social movement of Afro-Mexicans during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The importance of von Germeten's book stems in large part from her proof that Mexico has an African heritage. Von Germeten successfully uses the confraternities to establish patterns of social mobility for the Afro-Mexicans she studied. She has established without a doubt that Afro-Mexicans played active roles during the colonial era."
--Hispanic American Historical Review
"Afro-Mexican religious practice has, until now, barely appeared in the literature on the African Diaspora. Von Germenten's exhaustively researched study both accounts for that gap and begins to fill it in."
--Religious Studies Review