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Africans to Spanish AmericaExpanding the Diaspora$
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Sherwin K. Bryant and Rachel Sarah O'Toole

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036637

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036637.001.0001

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Afro-Mexican Saintly Devotion in a Mexico City Alley

Afro-Mexican Saintly Devotion in a Mexico City Alley

Chapter:
(p.114) 5 Afro-Mexican Saintly Devotion in a Mexico City Alley
Source:
Africans to Spanish America
Author(s):

Joan C. Bristol

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036637.003.0005

This chapter examines Afro-Mexicans' level of involvement in colonial society and religious life as well as their desires to gain social power as defined by colonial authorities. An important form of Christian practice for Africans in the Diaspora came through membership in Catholic confraternities, lay groups that were organized around venerating saints and often served as mutual aid societies for their members. This chapter considers the case of a group of black men and women who performed clandestine religious ceremonies in the alleys of late seventeenth-century Mexico City and claimed to be religiosos (clerics) and religiosas (nuns) of Saint Iphigenia. In particular, it analyzes the possible meanings such gatherings held for the congregants. The case demonstrates how Afro-Mexicans asserted their right to worship as Christians on their own terms, deployed their understandings of Christianity around the prescribed tenets of religious orthodoxy, and interpreted the language of hierarchy and power embodied in religious objects and rituals.

Keywords:   religious life, Afro-Mexicans, social power, religious ceremonies, Mexico City, religiosos, religiosas, Christianity, power, religious objects

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