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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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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

“The Lord walks among the pots and pans”

“The Lord walks among the pots and pans”

Religious Servants of Colonial Lima

(p.136) 6 “The Lord walks among the pots and pans”
Africans to Spanish America

Nancy E. van Deusen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines Christianity as a lived experience for women of African descent, both in the world and in the cloister. By the seventeenth century, thousands of free and enslaved men and women of African descent lived in monasteries and convents throughout Latin America, including the urban areas of Brazil, Peru, and Mexico. Many served as donados/donadas, legos/legas, or freilas (synonyms for religious servants). This chapter investigates the religious lives of free Afro-Peruvian women who served as donadas in the female convents of seventeenth-century Lima. In particular, it considers how donadas negotiated a hierarchically ordered environment to gain prominence as spiritual beings. It also discusses the matriarchal intimacies of convent life and the positionality of donadas relative to others within the convents as well as their ability to effectuate a spiritual life. It shows that a variety of issues motivated women of African heritage to become donadas, including the desire to ensure their freedom.

Keywords:   donadas, Christianity, convents, Latin America, Afro-Peruvian women, Lima, matriarchal intimacies, spiritual life, freedom, religious servants

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