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Africans in Colonial Mexico Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640 by Herman L. Bennett

Africans in Colonial Mexico Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640

Part of the Blacks in the Diaspora Series


Africans in Colonial Mexico Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640 by Herman L. Bennett

This book charts new directions in thinking about the construction of new world identities.... Bennett does a masterful job. -Judith A. Byfield, Dartmouth In this study of the largest population of free and slave Africans in the New World, Herman L. Bennett has uncovered much new information about the lives of slave and free blacks, the ways that their lives were regulated by the government and the Church, the impact upon them of the Inquisition, their legal status in marriage, and their rights and obligations as Christian subjects.


Bennett (Rutgers Univ.) relies on church records, especially marriage licenses and Inquisition prosecutions, to reveal aspects of the social and legal lives of Africans and their descendants, slave and free, in colonial Mexico. He begins by establishing the scale of the African presence, saying that Africans outnumbered Spaniards and that early New Spain's black population was larger than Brazil's. He notes, as others have, that Africans participated in the conquest and often served in an intermediary role, supervising indigenous labor and Hispanicizing the Indians. Bennett focuses not on work or living conditions, but on Africans
ability to manipulate power through their understanding of the law. Blacks, being Christians and thus considered persons with souls, enjoyed certain rights. For example, the church granted them the right of conjugality, which superceded their masters

property rights. Africans, Bennett argues, took advantage of these limited rights to make lives for themselves. By manipulating the interstices between canon and property law, Africans carved out niches for themselves and made their lives better. This thorough study informs on a number of historical fields, including the history of slavery, diaspora studies, identity, Spanish imperial history, church history, creolization, and the Hispanicization of Indians. Summing Up: Recommended
. Graduate students and faculty.February 2004 -- S. A. Harmon * Pittsburg State University * Africans in Colonial Mexico by Herman Bennett marks a major advance in the still underdeveloped field of Afro-Mexican history by using Inquisition records to investigate Afro-Creole consciousness in the mature colonial period.40.3 2005 * Latin American Research Review *

About the Author

Herman L. Bennett is Associate Professor of History at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd February 2005


Herman L. Bennett

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Indiana University Press


288 pages


General & world history
Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700



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