Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico

Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico

by Herman L. Bennett

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Overview

Asking readers to imagine a history of Mexico narrated through the experiences of Africans and their descendants, this book offers a radical reconfiguration of Latin American history. Using ecclesiastical and inquisitorial records, Herman L. Bennett frames the history of Mexico around the private lives and liberty that Catholicism engendered among enslaved Africans and free blacks, who became majority populations soon after the Spanish conquest. The resulting history of 17th-century Mexico brings forth tantalizing personal and family dramas, body politics, and stories of lost virtue and sullen honor. By focusing on these phenomena among peoples of African descent, rather than the conventional history of Mexico with the narrative of slavery to freedom figured in, Colonial Blackness presents the colonial drama in all its untidy detail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253223319
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 11/29/2010
Series: Blacks in the Diaspora
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 988,094
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Herman L. Bennett is Professor of History at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and author of Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640 (IUP, 2003).

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Writing Afro-Mexican History
1. Discipline and Culture
2. Genealogies to a Past
3. Creoles
4. Provincial Black Life
5. Local Blackness
6. Narrating Freedom
7. Sin
Epilogue: Colonial Blackness?
Bibliography
Index

What People are Saying About This

"What light is shed upon old topics when new sources are examined! In this major work on Afro-Mexican and, really, general Spanish American history, Bennett (CUNY) prowls through the neglected Mexican archival records dealing with marriages (matrimonios) and religious peccadilloes (bienes nacionales, inquisicion). Essentially ignoring the traditional topics of enslavement, labor laws, work discipline, and resistance, Bennett uncovers a vibrant black community developing its own customs and practices. The author focuses on the years 1622-1788, in the process covering the often-overlooked 17th century, in which New Spain had the largest collection of individuals of African descent in the New World. Bennett reveals a black society in which creolization took place rapidly, Christianization happened so fast that Afro-Mexicans accepted and manipulated with aplomb church regulations on marriage and family, and a community existed that could mobilize a legion of grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, and godparents as witnesses for routine legal questions. In place of a weak, shattered individualistic society dealing with the so-called "social death" caused by slavery, Bennett's Afro-Mexicans were a community that soon counted a majority of freedmen living in an urban setting. What a contrast with the Afro-Cuban slave society evolving to the east in the Gulf of Mexico! Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. — Choice"

Brown University - Robert Douglas Cope

"Bennett challenges his readers to rethink the black experience in colonial Mexico. . . . He persuasively argues that exploitative labor systems, violence, and social hierarchy cannot, by themselves, define Afro-Mexican history; past studies . . . have flattened out and simplified our view of people of color, ignoring their private lives and their efforts at community formation. To put it another way, the slavery paradigm has overwhelmed alternate narratives of 'freedom' and 'blackness.' Bennett seeks to bring these hidden narratives to light."

Johns Hopkins University - Ben Vinson

"A powerful piece of revisionist history."

J. A. Lewis

"What light is shed upon old topics when new sources are examined! In this major work on Afro-Mexican and, really, general Spanish American history, Bennett (CUNY) prowls through the neglected Mexican archival records dealing with marriages (matrimonios) and religious peccadilloes (bienes nacionales, inquisicion). Essentially ignoring the traditional topics of enslavement, labor laws, work discipline, and resistance, Bennett uncovers a vibrant black community developing its own customs and practices. The author focuses on the years 1622-1788, in the process covering the often-overlooked 17th century, in which New Spain had the largest collection of individuals of African descent in the New World. Bennett reveals a black society in which creolization took place rapidly, Christianization happened so fast that Afro-Mexicans accepted and manipulated with aplomb church regulations on marriage and family, and a community existed that could mobilize a legion of grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, and godparents as witnesses for routine legal questions. In place of a weak, shattered individualistic society dealing with the so-called "social death" caused by slavery, Bennett's Afro-Mexicans were a community that soon counted a majority of freedmen living in an urban setting. What a contrast with the Afro-Cuban slave society evolving to the east in the Gulf of Mexico! Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. — Choice"

New York University - Barbara Weinstein

"Colonial Blackness makes a crucial contribution to the burgeoning literature on persons of African descent in Spanish America. Focusing on the "middle period" of colonial rule, Herman Bennett challenges us to rethink the cultural history of Afro-Mexicans in ways that go beyond deterministic frameworks of enslavement and oppression. This is an innovative work that will prove fascinating reading for anyone studying colonial Latin America or the African Diaspora."

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