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Imperial Occlusions: Mestizaje and Marian Mechanisms in Early Modern Andalucía and the Andes


This project explores articulations of mestizaje (various forms of genealogical and social mixing) on the Iberian Peninsula, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and in the legal, cultural, and religious spaces shared by both. By foregrounding texts and contexts often left out of discussions on mestizaje, and incorporating Mestizos into a line of scholarship dominated by comparative studies of Indios and Moros/Moriscos, I argue that, in the Hapsburg Empire, mestizaje was often understood, experienced, and/or represented as a transatlantic phenomenon; and that this transatlantic consciousness engendered certain "mechanisms," common to both the metropole and its colonies, which promoted or marginalized persons, products, and practices that carried supposed markers of mixing. Chapter 1, "Moorish Mestizos and Iberian Incas: From Order to Disorder in Andalucía and the Andes," analyzes how early modern literary and documentary narratives imagined mestizaje in pre-conquest Granada (the last polity of Al-Andalus) and Tahuantinsuyu (the Inca Empire). Chapter 2, "Apellidando libertad: Real and Imagined Rebellions and Exiles of Moriscos and Mestizos," explores the intersecting experiences and interrelated repression of Iberian Moriscos and Andean Mestizos. Chapter 3, "The Cornerstone of Copacabana: Creoles and Indios, Virgins and Wakas in a New Andean Zion," traces how prominent Marian and evangelizing narratives shunned Mestizos in favor of Creole "purity" while simultaneously celebrating the mixed lineage of the Virgin Mary. Chapter 4, "At the hour of our death: Mary, Martyrdom, and Moriscos in the Alpujarra and Beyond," examines ways in which the Virgin Mary was employed in pro- and anti-Morisco rhetoric, both before and after their expulsion from Spain. Through analyses of literary works and archival documents, I will demonstrate that a series of occlusions—expressed through contact, blockage, sorption, and concealment—characterize key mechanisms of mestizaje in early modern Andalucía and the Andes, and that the Virgin Mary is a powerful tool of occlusion in both of these geographies.

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