Bad Christians, New Spains: Muslims, Catholics, and Native Americans in a Mediterratlantic World

1st Edition

Byron Ellsworth Hamann

November 5, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 392 Pages - 57 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367221126 - CAT# K421315
Series: The Anthropology of History


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This book centers on two inquisitorial investigations, both of which began in the 1540s. One involved the relations of Europeans and Native Americans in an Oaxacan town (in New Spain, today’s Mexico). The other involved relations of Moriscos (recent Muslim converts to Catholicism) and Old Christians (people with deep Catholic ancestries) in the Mediterranean kingdom of Valencia (in the "old" Spain).

Although separated by an ocean, the social worlds preserved in the inquisitorial files share many things. By comparing and contrasting the two inquisitions, Hamann reveals how very local practices and debates had long-distance parallels that reveal the larger entanglements of a transatlantic early modern world. Through a dialogue of two microhistories, he presents a macrohistory of large-scale social transformation. We see how attempts in both places to turn old worlds into new ones were centered on struggles over materiality and temporality. By paying close attention to theories (and practices) of reduction and conversion, Hamann suggests we can move beyond anachronistic models of social change as colonization and place questions of time and history at the center of our understandings of the sixteenth-century past.

The book is an intervention in major debates in both history and anthropology: about the writing of global histories, our conceptualizations of the colonial, the nature of religious and cultural change, and the roles of material things in social life and the imagination of time.

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