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date: 11 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that although colonial authorities and church officials in the Iberian Americas limited Afro-Latin American participation in Catholic religious practices, men and women of the African Diaspora shaped colonial Latin American Catholicism. The Iberian Crowns, as well as early modern colonial clerics, profited from the transatlantic slave trade and the labor of enslaved Africans and their descendants. As a major financial and political institution of the early modern world, the Catholic Church participated in and developed the idea that black people could be sold and purchased because of their racial identity. Furthermore, early modern clerics, as well as the Spanish Crown, engaged in a Foucauldian governmentality of incorporation and control that included Afro-Latin Americans, enslaved and free, as Catholic subjects. Nevertheless, men and women of the African Diaspora in colonial Latin America employed Church structures to organize their communities. Africans and their descendants placed the worship of black saints at the center of colonial municipal celebrations and called on Iberian ecclesiastical courts to defend their families against the definitions of property by slaveholders. As a result, Afro-Latin Americans played a central role in the formation and development of Latin American Catholicism.

Keywords: slavery, Catholicism, confraternities, Inquisition, African Diaspora, Latin America

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