A Flock Divided: Race, Religion, and Politics in Mexico, 1749-1857

A Flock Divided: Race, Religion, and Politics in Mexico, 1749-1857

by Matthew D. O'Hara
ISBN-10:
0822346397
ISBN-13:
9780822346395
Pub. Date:
11/23/2009
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
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Overview

A Flock Divided: Race, Religion, and Politics in Mexico, 1749-1857

Catholicism, as it developed in colonial Mexico, helped to create a broad and remarkably inclusive community of Christian subjects, while it also divided that community into countless smaller flocks. Taking this contradiction as a starting point, Matthew D. O’Hara describes how religious thought and practice shaped Mexico’s popular politics. As he shows, religion facilitated the emergence of new social categories and modes of belonging in which individuals—initially subjects of the Spanish crown, but later citizens and other residents of republican Mexico—found both significant opportunities for improving their place in society and major constraints on their ways of thinking and behaving.

O’Hara focuses on interactions between church authorities and parishioners from the late-colonial era into the early-national period, first in Mexico City and later in the surrounding countryside. Paying particular attention to disputes regarding caste status, the category of “Indian,” and the ownership of property, he demonstrates that religious collectivities from neighborhood parishes to informal devotions served as complex but effective means of political organization for plebeians and peasants. At the same time, longstanding religious practices and ideas made colonial social identities linger into the decades following independence, well after republican leaders formally abolished the caste system that classified individuals according to racial and ethnic criteria. These institutional and cultural legacies would be profound, since they raised fundamental questions about political inclusion and exclusion precisely when Mexico was trying to envision and realize new forms of political community. The modes of belonging and organizing created by colonialism provided openings for popular mobilization, but they were always stalked by their origins as tools of hierarchy and marginalization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822346395
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 11/23/2009
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Children of Rebekah 1

Part I. Institutions and Ideas

1. Geographies of Buildings, Bodies, and Souls 17

2. An Eighteenth-Century Great Debate 55

Part II. Reform and Reaction

3. Stone, Mortar, and Memory 91

4. Invisible Religion 123

Part III. Piety and Politics

5. Spiritual Capital 159

6. Miserables and Citizens 185

Conclusion. The Struggle of Jacob and Esau 221

Notes 239

Bibliography 281

Index 303

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